“A Wrinkle in Time” Is the Disney Movie That Could Have Been Perfect

When Disney decides to spend more money than some national banks have on a single film, you wonder why they don’t have better CGI, or I know, an absolute shocker, build unbelievably magical sets.

I long for the times of set design and real backdrops. When Reese Witherspoon on a neon planet turns into a flying piece of lettuce out of a PBS children’s cartoon, you ask yourself, “Why?”  None of it looks like any attempts to look real. You can tell the animators were rushed up, “Everyone, finish on time!”

The film’s CGI does well on other parts of the movie. The end titles with the glitter are beautiful! 

The story, great makeup, and acting alone, all ruined a bit by the bad CGI,  capture Walt Disney’s dreams of filmmaking. When I watched this film, my first feeling was, “Mr. Disney would be proud.” I felt that when I watched Meet the Robinsons  and rewatched it reviewing it for my website. The recent Disney material fluctuates between trendy and trying to be everything to everyone. Along the road, Disney doesn’t always work to what Mr. Disney might have himself agreed on funding when he was alive. I’m glad this one did.

A Wrinkle in Time  was on my assigned reading materials when I was younger. My mind doesn’t remember much about the book aside from the giant brain controlling the evils of the universe. When I read the book, I imagined if I were to make a movie, and yes I was so bored in class I tried to make reading assignments fun imagining my homework were to adapt these into movies when I was older, I thought about making the brain this huge creepy thing but real. A big brain set all ooey gooy in a room. When you see this film’s interpretation, Meg and her brother look like they’re stepped on a sloppy cave with electric eels zapping them. Nowhere does the film shove it in your face, brain! Little kids in the audience probably missed that. 

I feel terrible that Eva Duvernay, A Wrinkle in Time ’s director, was stuck working with all the nasty CGI ruining her film. A requirement now, it seems. Ms. Duvernay pulled out a heartfelt performance from our Meg, played by Storm Reid. To be that young and have so much charisma is probably a natural gift. And, as a director, helping Ms. Reid know how to use it in a prominent role, very scary for anyone and as a young girl, who wouldn’t be scared the world will see your acting in a Disney work, well, impressive! Storm Reid carries the film.

A second point I loved about the movie was the young people looked like real young people. In our newer films, the young people are sexualized in minor wardrobe choices. Meg is like many of my friends when I was that age. She may have played in the makeup drawer, yet it’s after school right now. She doesn’t care about makeup or trendy attire; no impressing classmates she has a crush on with her appearance. She wears stuff she thinks is fun and is herself as she naturally is. 

The action truly starts around the very end of the first hour. Too bad. When the movie gets going, it’s a great movie. I wish we spent less time focusing on Reese Witherspoon changing CGI clothes and the every move of a CGI gimmick. Spoken as true intent, it felt like watching a Pixar work at times when the animation was really good and a quickly burned out Nickelodeon or PBS show when the animation wasn’t as good. And rather than the focus being on the people learning about evil or the flowers talking, a three minute scene stretched into fifteen minutes. As a director or screenwriter, one can slash things and move it around. You can add  things to the story! They added a line about “OutKast” to freshen up the screenwriting for today’s young people. Why not add more elements of modernity and thicken the story? The script itself is great in scenes like the creepy beach area.

On my movies podcast, you’ll hear me talk about how few filmmakers ever make a 10/10 perfect movie. Many if we are lucky can make 9.8/10 films. Something is always left unsaid, undone, a “could’ve been better.” I’m said watching A Wrinkle in Time  seeing what is really a 10/10 movie with a great cast and production crew destroyed by good things gone wrong.

The makeup team deserves an Oscar nomination for this. They did a great job at making people look far from themselves to play these roles. When you’re famous like a certain lovely talk show hostess acting here, and popular for years being yourself, you need to look as far from the real you to have a good acting performance.