As I walked out of the theater, and through the parking lot back to my car after watching this movie, I found myself just so disappointed. The movie was boring, poorly executed, with bad acting.
The movie is just so, soft. Anything from the book that could be considered dark, was ripped out. For a movie where the villain is literally the darkness, the story itself never gets dark. It never pushes any boundaries the way the book did. It sugarcoats a rich and tense story. This movie is just so safe, and well, spineless. It constantly talks about how powerful love is, and how special everyone is but doesn’t earn it. I can be fine with a sappy feel-good movie if it feels earned if it feels genuine. Paddington 2, for instance, felt sincere. But because Wrinkle in Time is based on a novel with some darker tones, it did not feel right in this movie.The lead character in the movie is supposed to be pretty hard to like. She is very intelligent, but she is also bitter, angry, and depressed. This movie never shows that. They show she is depressed about her father leaving, sure, but they never really show her anger except for a couple outbursts. Her anger is toned down, and it hurts the morale of the story. She just comes off as a moody ungrateful teen, not a flawed genius.
See the story has a great, and unique moral, about embracing our faults. But the faults of Meg in the movie are put on the back burner. Throughout almost the entire movie all they want to celebrate are her strengths, like her intelligence, and bravery. The fault they focus most on is not her anger or self-doubt, but her sadness about her father. So when Meg is told that her faults are her strength, I was left asking, “What faults?” So she is depressed about her father? Anyone would be. We were vaguely told she was struggling in school, but we did not really get the ramifications of it. We see she is bullied, but we only see her response to it once. If we can not see her faults, then we do not care when she overcomes them or learns to love them. The movie wants to tell you she has faults but does not want to undermine her character, so they stop short of ever showing them.
As a movie, it fails to impress. The CGI is often fake looking, or just bland. Much of the acting is awful, especially the acting of the youngest actor, who played Charles Wallace. I know he is a little kid, but he got so much screen time, and every time he spoke I just felt bad for the young actor struggling to deliver his lines in a believable way. The adults and teens were not much better. A lot of the bad acting may be attributed to the writing, because most of the characters were written so bland that it would be hard to give a good performance.
Oprah’s character, Mrs. Which, has nothing to say all movie except inspiring language. There is little to no character there, just a plot device to inspire Meg. Much of the dialogue feels artificial, as much of it is just the same uplifting diatribes, with no real nuance.
The character of Calvin has no purpose in the movie. We are told he is supposed to come along because he has diplomatic skills, but he never gets to use them in the movie. He plays a major role in the book. He helps inspire Meg, and he serves as the voice of the group in several conflicts. But he is just background here. In making Meg seem less flawed, more heroic, his purpose became null. T She does not need him to speak for her because without her anger she is more than capable of speaking for herself. They even prettied up his backstory. In the books, his family is very poor, and he is forced to wear ill-fitting clothing, and sometimes even women’s clothes. The only real development we get from him is one random scene where we learn his dad can be verbally abusive and have expectations that are too high. It seems the character was an afterthought because they removed almost any impact he had on the story.
It also falls victim to tired tropes, like flashbacks. While it is not visual, at the end, when our hero Meg figures out she has to use her faults, the movie felt compelled to replay the line from Reese Witherspoon’s character Mrs. Whats-It about using her faults. But we did not need to hear the line again. It was obvious that was what Meg was thinking, but the movie felt the audience was not smart enough to pick up on this. It also tries to pull the trope of, some characters are talking trash about a person while that person is conveniently just off screen and can hear them. Can we not find new and fresh ways to present scenes? Do we have to keep re-using the same tired tropes?
There is no real tension in the movie. The main villain, The It, has no impact on the movie. The first two acts of this movie are literally just all set up, and once the third act comes around and we finally get to some action, even that falls flat. The movie never gripped me. I was never more than mildly interested in anything happening on the screen because with the few conflicts there are, the resolutions seem to come quick. There is even an entirely pointless scene, that is supposed to be tense, but goes nowhere. When they arrive on the IT’s planet, they encounter a small town and see a bunch of children bouncing balls. One of the children’s mothers invites them in for food, but Meg realizes it is probably a trap and says no. That is the scene, I suppose it is supposed to show an example of how the world will try and trick them. But then in the very next scene, they arrive on a beach, and another person offers them food, and they accept. WHAT? Did you forget the lesson of the last scene this quickly? Why even put that first scene in? Why are these characters so simple that they would fall for such an obvious trap? Things like this make me care so little for what is going on.
So with all these flaws, I left the movie disappointed. It was uninspiring and bland. It was definitely the Disney version of this story, but in the past, Disney has done a better job adapting dark stories for children. They did not remove all the dark parts of Hamlet before adapting it to Lion King. They removed a lot of violence and other adult subjects, but still tackled to the core of the story. Here, they prettied it all up and were left with a story that had no tension.
The movie is fine for families. Kids may like the movie, and the parents are used to watching boring kids movies. But I had much higher expectations for this movie than this. This should be a movie that plays for everyone. It should be a classic that presents adult themes that children can understand in learn. But the movie is too safe to do that. It takes no chances, so it ended up being a story for kids that adults will be struggle to sit through.
(EDIT) I originally gave this movie a 5, but after sitting on it, I decided to lower the rating.