Film Review: A WRINKLE IN TIME (USA 2018)

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A Wrinkle in Time Poster
After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.

Director:

Ava DuVernay

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jeff Stockwell (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

 

A WRINKLE IN TIME is the new Disney family fantasy based on the 1962 science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle.   The book won the Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.  This is Disney’s second film adaptation following the 2003 TV movie.

The film follows daughter, Meg (Storm Reid) who with the help of Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Whatsis (Reech Witherspoon) and accompaniment of adopted brother (Deric McCabe) search for her 4-year missing scientific father, known as Dr. Murry (Chris Pine).  They encounter different characters and strange animals and things before finally  rescuing the father after wining the fight of light vs. the darkness.

Music and soundtrack are not impressive.  The ending song “I believe (in me)” by DJ Khaled is the typical ‘America is great, I can do anything’ mentality that President Trump so often engages that non-Americans are sick of. The soundtrack has the ‘wowing’ sound that is supposed to enhance at the audience’s ’wow’ factor.  The music also goes up and down in mood as if to constantly remind the audiences how to feel during the film.

The script and film concentrate more on the rescue of Dr. Murry that on the universal fight of good vs. evil.  The result is a rather sappy film.  The family reuniting scene does not bring tears into the audience’s eyes as the film is bad that there is little emotion to be felt anywhere.

The film delivers mixed messages among them: “Be a warrior:” “I can do anything”; and others.  But unfortunately the negative message of putting work before family also comes through.  There is also an odd moment when the camera shows that Meg has forgiven her taunting schoolmate, Veronica.

The cinematography By German D.P. Tobias A. Schliessler is impressive and the film looks occasionally stunning though all this would be put better into perspective if the film was not all over the place.

The film is enough to give one a splitting headache.  Besides the screeching children – young actor McCabe has an especially high-pitched shrill voice.  If he not taunting his sister when ‘possessed’  he will certainly be taunting the audience with his voice.  The other scene is the bouncing ball scene whee a dozen or so boys in a neighbourhood simultaneously bounce their basketball as they go: “Thump, thump, thump…” indefinitely.

A WRINKLE IN TIME is noticeable for making a point of having a higher percentage of African Americans and women working in the film.  Director DuVaernay’s resume includes only one past documentary MIDDLE OF NOWHERE and SELMA, quite different for big budget sci-fi films.  Making the Murry family mixed, the husband white (Chris Pine) and the mother black (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) for no apparent reason except to be currently politically or racially correct, does not really work either.  

Disney has had a solid string of hits, the latest being the Oscar winning animated COCO and the box-office hit BLACK PANTHER.  A WRINKLE IN TIME, which is plain awful puts a huge wrinkle in this trend of hits.  It is noticeable worse than the second of Disney’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND movies and prove that good intentions do not necessarily turn out good movies.  The element of wonder is missing in this fantasy picture.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4U3TeY2wtM

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Film Review: SING (USA 2016) ****

sing_movie_poster.jpgDirected by Garth Jennings

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly

Review by Gilbert Seah

Garth Jennings, director of the not-so-successful THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and the excellent SON OF RAMBO seems an unlikely choice for director of the 3D computer-animated musical comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment (the DESPICABLE ME films). But Jennings who also voices the old secretary Matilda, the glass-eye popping iguana in the film, proves a worthy choice.

The age-old plot of SING involves the protagonist, here in the form of a cute koala (Matthew McConaughey) putting up a show in order to save his failing theatre. He comes up with a brilliant scheme to save his stage: put audience members on it. “Real talent from real life,” Buster declares. Buster is determined to host the world’s greatest singing competition, and, given the overwhelming response to his call for participants, the show might just lay claim to that title. After an exhaustive (and entertaining) audition process, his lead contestants left are an exhausted mother of 25 piglets, a timid adolescent elephant, a porcupine with punk, a rodent con artist with Sinatra-esque chops, and a gangster gorilla eager to change careers. Each is as desperate to change their life as Buster is to rescue his business. Who will win? It doesn’t really matter as all eventually do their part to save the theatre. Jennifer Saunders of ABS FAB does the voice of ex-diva a sort-of patron for Moon’s theatre as she is rich beyond means.

SING is undeniably a feel-good movie with an extra coating of sweetness that stretches credibility to the limit. If the film was not animated, it would never get away with the premise. But animated feature are supposed to be totally crazy and not matter how unbelievable, any crazy premise will always work to its favour.

Water has always been difficult if not impossible to animate. Disney’s THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (from FANTASIA) with Mickey Mouse demonstrated that. But now with computer animation, all is possible. In SING, Buster Moon decides to create an elaborate lighting sequence for his show using squids in a huge water tank that ends up leaking and blowing up. All this is an excuse to showcase the studio’s impressive modern animation with computer aid using water. No complaints here, as the sequence is one of the film’s best animated, as in the time lapse rebuilding of Moon’s theatre near the end of the film. Disney and Pixar are faced with stiff competition here.

The impressive cast of actors and singers include Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, Seth MacFarlane as Mike, a small white crooning mouse with a big Frank Sinatra-esque voice and an arrogant attitude, Scarlett Johansson as Ashley, a crested porcupine punk rocker, John C. Reilly as Eddie Noodleman, a Suffolk sheep and Buster’s partner, Tori Kelly as Meena, a teenage Indian elephant with an exquisite voice, and severe stage fright,Taron Egerton as Johnny, a Cockney-accented mountain gorilla, who wants to sing and Nick Kroll as Gunter domestic pig and Rosita’s German-accented, very optimistic and bubbly dance partner.

SING is by no means a faultless feature. It falls into the trap of having too many characters for its own good and not knowing when to shorten its story. The film also hurdles at too fast a pace, as in the father gorilla escaping jail to see his son perform.

The film features more than 85 classic songs from famous artists all more than adequately performed by the animated characters as well as a few catchy original songs.

Like Moon going all out to save his theatre, one cannot help but root of writer/director Jennings in his worthwhile effort and awarding him an “A” for effort.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7uGHY-t80I

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