A Wrinkle in Time

March 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon
Directed by: Ava DuVernay (“Selma”)
Written by: Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Jeff Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”)

Adapted from the 1962 fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle, the cinematic version of “A Wrinkle in Time” is a massive mess. It’s unfortunate, especially since rising filmmaking star Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), who is breaking barriers for women of color behind the camera, will have to chalk this one up as her first dud in a young but impressive career that started with the 2012 award-winning sleeper drama “Middle of Nowhere.”

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a convoluted fairy tale that attempts to turn its nonsensical narrative into something compelling. Sadly, the story, which was considered by many in the industry to be unfilmable (so was “Life of Pi,” and that turned out brilliant), is a bad combination of technobabble plotting, underwritten characters and overdone and unrealistic CGI effects.

When scientist Mr. Murray (Chris Pine) finds a wormhole allowing him to time travel billions of light years, he makes the leap, but gets lost for four years somewhere, we suppose, in all the wrinkles. When his daughter Meg (Storm Reid) finds out she is the only one that can bring him home, she makes a journey to find him inside the depths of time with her little brother, friend and three enchanted beings – Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).

Far from a future classic, “A Wrinkle in Time” will be relegated to the category where forgotten fantasy family fare like “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” takes up space.

Frozen

November 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad
Directed by: Chris Buck (“Tarzan”) and Jennifer Lee (debut)
Written by: Chris Buck (“Surf’s Up”) and Jennifer Lee (“Wreck-It Ralph”)

The late Howard Ashman, lyricist behind the songs in such contemporary Disney classics as “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” had a deceptively simple formula for building the backbone of a movie musical. Paraphrasing from the documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” Ashman’s Broadway-honed process involved writing four or five show-stopping songs first with the story strung in between. While it doesn’t make for terribly original storytelling, the songs were powerful and memorable enough to push through their rather basic fairytale trappings.

“Frozen” begins with two young princesses, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), sneaking out of bed for some late-night frolicking in the castle. There’s something special about the sisters’ playtime, though: Elsa has the power to create ice and snow from her fingertips, and turns a ballroom into a winter wonderland. When an accident caused by Elsa’s powers nearly kills Anna, the girls’ parents lock Elsa away from Anna. The years pass and as Elsa is set to ascend to the throne as queen, incidents at her coronation lead Elsa to lose control and cast the kingdom into a never-ending winter.

Brassy and beautiful, “Frozen” resurrects the Disney animated musical, a genre left for dead when the quality waned and upstarts like Pixar and Dreamworks started pumping out clever, computer-generated cartoons that didn’t rely on cornball songs shoehorned in every 10 minutes or so. While the marketing may overly-emphasize the lovably goofy magical snowman Olaf (Josh Gad in an incredibly endearing performance), this is first and foremost a Broadway-bred fairytale told with soaring songs and crystalline CGI beauty. The romantic in me decries the demise of traditional 2D animation, but the frosty landscape rendered digitally here wouldn’t have been nearly as jaw-dropping had they been rendered in old-school ink and paint.

“Frozen” is a polished and exhilarating film, and Disney is surely hard at work lining up the characters for wintertime theme park takeovers from now through the next century. Get used to it, everyone: the Mouse House is back in the game of churning out instant classics.