A Wrinkle in Time is a film that demands a very pointed perspective, and while that may not be the kiss of death for what is clearly a family-oriented story, it needn’t have been the case. With that in mind, this is a film that divides its audience and renders itself enjoyable only for those who are young enough to be mesmerized by glittery landscapes and floating and/or flying creatures.
Those young enough to find themselves enraptured by the general sense of wonder that simply is storytelling will likely find much to enjoy, but even still the overall effect is closer to that of an amusement park ride than something that truly has a story. Meg (Storm Reid) is likable enough and “everygirl” enough that audiences will quickly find themselves rooting for her, and the Mrs. trio (Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon) are odd and magical enough to instill a sense of adventure in the target audience. That’s all the film needs to win over viewers, but it isn’t enough to turn something into a treasure that those viewers will continue to cherish.
For anyone that would be kept away if we upped the rating to PG-13, the film is more of a cheat sheet on what stories are than an actual story, and Disney Parks Star Tours is too hard to differentiate from the adventure. There’s a journey we’re going on, an excuse to take that journey, seemingly random points along the way that don’t really mean anything, and something to avoid. Huzzah. We made it to the end. What’s next?
The movie makes virtually no effort to authentically establish its characters, or even its themes, leaving it to the viewer to bring the story in with them, and instead spends all its time striving for the most impressive still shots it can manage. The synopsis is the same as that of the book, but there the similarities end and the single-minded focus on the magical look sucks all the magic out of it.
All of that is to say that for younger audiences this is still probably only 8 out of 10, because there is too much out there that delivers a much more meaningful story. You don’t keep coming back for pretty. The older you are the faster this falls, and that seems to be by design, which is odd for a film that is surely going to have fans looking for a trip through a story they have loved for decades.
The result is really just as one might expect from Director Ava DuVernay, who is clearly the kind of director who often has an amazing vision of a project, but is prone to getting lost in it.
As questionable as the film may be, the Blu-Ray release delivers on another level, although its biggest fans may be hoping for a little more that is aimed directly at them.
The best bonus you get on the home release is a Behind-the-scenes/interview featurette, A Journey Through Time. This is one of the better such treatments you’ll see and clocks in at right around 30 minutes. It’s equal parts look behind the lens and interviews with the film’s stars, and runs through visual effects, the vision of putting together the look of the film, stunts, and more. Probably most interesting are the snippets of Winfrey, Witherspoon, and Kaling talking about playing their characters. While such features may not always be of interest to younger audiences, this one showcases the younger stars a fair amount, and details the creation of the various planets visited during the film.
The release also features a commentary track, but it’s one that is perhaps busier than those who actually listen to these things will be used to, and doesn’t exactly lend itself to younger audiences. The commentary features Director Ava DuVernay, Producer Jim Whitaker, Co-Screenwriter Jennifer Lee, Production Designer Naomi Shohan, First Assistant Director Michael Moore, Editor Spencer Averick, and VFX Supervisor Rich McBride. That’s a lot going on for a commentary track, and unfortunately, it’s the sort of group that doesn’t always offer much for the film’s biggest fans. There is certainly a lot that’s interesting in the mix, especially the further away you get from those things that might interest younger audiences.
The release also features a selection of deleted scenes with optional director audio commentary – Ant on a String, Aunt Beast, Meg Learns About Calvin’s Dad, and Papergirl – and there is really no question that fans will wonder why these scenes were dropped. That adds to the relevance of the commentary, but as is almost always the case, they were largely cut for time, or slight difficulties incorporating them into the larger picture, as opposed to any dramatic shifts in the telling of this classic story.
Finally, the release includes two original songs/music videos – “I Believe” performed by DJ Khaled featuring Demi Lovato, and “Warrior” performed by Chloe x Halle