FlixChatter Review: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

guestpost

A Wrinkle in Time is a visually stunning film with a solid backbone and an incredible lead actress (Storm Reid). Due to a few unfortunate choices, it is a disappointing movie that I will nonetheless recommend to everyone.
Because A Wrinkle in Time is one of the first pieces of science fiction that I ever read, my expectations were high. I got teary watching the trailer because seeing a formative story told such amazing women was an exciting prospect.

It is hard to live up to a piece of art so steeped in nostalgia. Time and time again I was disappointed by elements of the story that were abridged or cut out entirely. Of course, the skeleton remained. A Wrinkle in Time is a fun science fiction romp through surprising landscapes that help a young person grow into herself. And I know that it is unfair to expect every page to make the final cut, but there were so many heavy handed moments where the the writers (Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell) forced plot points into the mouths of characters because they must not have felt like they had the time or space to share that information with the audience.

Visually A Wrinkle in Time rivaled my childhood imagination. Costume design, CGI, and careful attention to cinematographic detail paints a moving picture that it is hard to peel your eyes away from. The costumes and makeup that Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) cycle through are stunning – even Mrs. Whatstit’s first outfit, which is supposedly made of bedsheets, is beautiful.

My one beef with the visual element of the movie is the giant, flying, lettuce shaped thing that Mrs. Whatsit transformed into. It is mind bogglingly bad in both execution and premise. Especially when you know that Mrs. Whatsit was supposed to be a centaur. Let me repeat that. Witherspoon was supposed to be a centaur and they made her an oversized piece of lettuce. I understand modesty concerns for a kid’s movie, but a bra flew across the screen when she transformed, so good luck convincing me that they couldn’t have put a bra on their centaur and called it a day.

Despite a cast that looks good on paper, I was mostly disappointed. At the top of my list of disappointments was Zach Galifianakis, who actually put on one of my favorite performances as the Happy Medium. In an otherwise incredibly diverse, female-focused cast, it was a disappointing surprise to see Galifianakis playing a role that was written as female originally.

On top of that, the school teachers were some of the worst featured actors I have ever seen, Mindy Kaling barely had any material to work with, Witherspoon turned a character I remember imagining as a likable but very oblivious person into a pretty rude character, and Deric McCabe was the most sympathetic of train wrecks.

No one wants to shit on a kid’s performance, but McCabe (playing Charles Wallace) left a lot to be desired. Charles Wallace is unique: a highly intelligent, empathetic kindergartner with a major shift in character toward the end of the movie. McCabe’s performance is passable early on, but at he seems visibly uncomfortable on screen. It is so disappointing that he, a nine year old, did not get better coaching for scenes that clearly stretched his acting ability.

Storm Reid redeemed everything else, though. She gave an incredibly riveting performance as Meg. I cannot wait to see what she does in the future: she clearly has the skills to have a long career if she wants it. In spite of its flaws A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story about loving yourself even if you don’t feel lovable. Meg is relatable: a teenager who hasn’t quite figured out how to love herself and has absorbed the meanness of her peers. The diverse cast and inspiring take away, described by is well worth supporting and the gorgeous set and costume design are well worth the price of a movie ticket.


hollyHolly P. is a twenty-something millennial who enjoys shouting at people on the internet, riding her bicycle, and overbooking her schedule. She prefers storytelling that has a point and comedy that isn’t mean. Her favorite movies are Aladdin, the Watchmen (even though the book was way better), and Hot Fuzz.  She’s seen every Lord of the Rings movie at least a dozen times. You can follow her @tertiaryhep on twitter or @hollyhollyoxenfreee on Instagram. She’s also on Tinder, but if you find her there she’ll probably ghost on you because wtf is dating in the 21st century.


Have you seen ‘A Wrinkle In Time’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: PAN (2015)

PAN2015Hollywood’s obsession with origin stories continue with this latest reimagining of Peter Pan story. The story is set during the WW II Blitz era London and centers on the 12-year-old orphan Peter (Levi Miller) who lives in cheerless orphanage run by heartless and cunning nuns. But of course we know he won’t stay there for long as he will soon be whisked way to the magical world of Neverland to fulfill his destiny [yawn].

Pardon my dread there, but really, there have been a plethora of ‘chosen one’ storyline done in the past, and this one doesn’t really add nothing new. One of my pet peeves is whenever I hear ‘it’s your destiny’ or something along that line, I just can’t help to roll my eyes as it’s just so darn clichéd. Well, despite all the pixie dust we see in this movie, it lacks a certain kind of magic that would fill me with wonder.

PAN_still2

Don’t get me wrong, I think Joe Wright has a way with creating unique spectacle on screen. The 3D looks bright, colorful and panoramic, and feature some stunning camera work, especially the moment we get to Neverland and introduced to its flamboyant pirate leader Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Here we’ll see how Blackbeard’s plucked a bunch of kids from orphanages all over the world to work as slaves in his mine. So yeah, this movie is VERY loosely based on J. M. Barrie’s classic story, but that’s what you get from a reimagining adaptation. The quarry visual is reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road and the rousing rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is rather amusing as it’s so unexpected.

In Neverland, Peter also encountered James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) who’s still working as one of Blackbeard pixie dust mine minions. Hedlund‘s basically channeling John Wayne-style cowboy and though he’s fun in parts, he’s rather devoid of real charm. There’s all the teasing that Peter and the would-be Captain Hook would not be friends later on, and there’s deliberate *suspense* over when Hook would lose his hand to a crocodile. There’s even a giant CGI croc leaping across your screen, just one of a plethora of sound and sight oddities throughout. Did I mention Cara Delevingne also makes a cameo as a mermaid triplets?

PAN_still5

The relentless CGI-fest will no doubt engulf your senses. At times the effect felt like a huge sugar rush overload. There is only so much eye-popping effects your eyes can handle, I actually had to close my eyes a few times just to recharge my senses. But no amount of visual spectacle can replace a heartfelt story and I think that’s what’s lacking here. There are moments later in the film between Peter and his long-lost mother that’s quite moving, but that emotional resonance is so few and far between.

I think one of the worst moments is between Hook and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) which is just so awkward and pointless. In fact, the entire sequence in the island of the tribe that protect the fairy kingdom feels haphazard with garish colors and absurd battle action. Not to mention the fact that the casting of Mara as a Native American princess is just egregious. I read one reviewer who said ‘…Rooney Mara was crushed by a United Colours of Benetton ad’ Ouch! Ok so there is one character played by a non-white actor Adeel Akhtar, but he’s relegated to comic relief purpose and not much else.

PAN_still4

You won’t expect any subtlety in this movie and I don’t think Wright even tried. What’s also not-so-subtle is the fact that the film seems to be made to launch a franchise. Yet the script by Jason Fuchs is already stretched so thin, with minimal character development. It doesn’t help that it gets lost in the extravagant, noisy special effects. The film’s already a massive box office flop as it’d be a struggle to even make up the $150 million budget. But hopefully this means Wright will return to making intriguing dramas like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice.

PAN_still3

As far as performances go, I have to say that Jackman’s theatrical background is put to good use as Blackbeard. I know the role likely begets over-the-top performance, but all the scenery chewing gets irritating fast. Just like the movie, all the makeup/costume is so showy and circus-y but the character itself isn’t all that interesting. I do like Levi Miller as Peter though, I think he has that expressive face that reminds me of the young girl in the first Jurassic Park movie. Apparently Wright traveled to the UK, the United States, Canada, and Australia and looked at thousands of kids before he found Miller.

Overall, all the well intention of the filmmakers involved is swallowed up by overwhelming action and CGI spectacle. It also went on for far too long at nearly 2-hours, but too short on humor and whimsy. Like a rollercoaster in an amusement park, there are up and down moments, if only there were more ups than downs.

2halfReels


Did you see PAN? Well, what did you think?