The reviews are in for Disney's A Wrinkle In Time, one of the biggest and most anticipated releases of the year.
A Star-Studded Adaptation
Selma director Ava DuVernay's celeb-stuffed adaptation, which stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Mindy Kaling in key roles, hits theaters Friday.
The movie also played an interesting role in the 90th Academy Awards, as host Jimmy Kimmel invaded a screening across the road alongside stars including Gal Gadot and Ansel Elgort.
This isn't the first adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's celebrated 1962 fantasy novel. Alfre Woodard and Alison Elliott starred in a 2003 TV movie for ABC, which L'Engle wasn't a fan of, famously telling the press it met her expectations by being terrible.
Now, it seems, DuVernay's big-budget film might be getting the same treatment. Critic Todd McCarthy, of The Hollywood Reporter, pointed to the film's bagginess and less-than-ideal structure.
"Most scenes are dominated by far too much cutting. ... One's engagement with the likeable enough characters starts flagging in the final third as the air escapes the balloon. On top of that, the bromides about the primacy of family and being true to yourself are signaled, but not earned," he wrote.
The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg discussed her difficulty in separating A Wrinkle In Time the movie from DuVernay's worth as an activist and political commentator.
"Some directors become sufficiently important figures that it can feel as though commenting on their work is inseparable from commenting on the worthiness of their larger intellectual project," she wrote in her review of the movie.
Still An Important Step
She doesn't think the film is any good, but Rosenberg is also filled with regret that she has to say as much. DuVernay is expressing, through this flawed film, a vision of Hollywood to which we all should, and could, aspire.
The Boston Herald's James Verniere is more cutting, pointing to the movie's weaknesses in sci-fi plotting and decent visuals, as well as its reliance on stunning audiences with costuming.
"[DuVernay] imagined the book's central family as multiracial, brings her keen sense for acting talent to the film's casting, if also a weak eye for science-fiction and fantasy visuals. ... Less effort on hair, wardrobe and hugs and more on dialogue and originality, I say," he wrote.
A Wrinkle In Time drops Friday and is a major coup for movies made by people of color. As a Disney project, it stakes a claim for being the first $100 million film production directed by a black woman and for featuring a highly multicultural cast. Hopefully, more film companies will produce similar movies in years to come. It also signals changing attitudes in Hollywood.