A WRINKLE IN TIME
Starring: Storm Reid (Sleight), Levi Miller (Pan), Deric McCabe (Stephanie), Oprah Winfrey (The Colour Purple), Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Mindy Kaling (Inside Out), Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Michael Pena (Ant-Man), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Director: Ava DuVernay (Selma)
Writers: Jennifer Lee (Frozen) and Jeff Stockwell (Bridge to Terebithia)
Runtime: 1 hour 49 minutes
Release Date: 9 March (US), 23 March (UK)
A Wrinkle in Time is a difficult novel to adapt, as it needs to impart a lot of complex scientific and emotional concepts whilst still being easily consumable for its target audience of young minds. Ava DuVernay proves with her adaptation that she not only understands and is passionate about the material but, after years on the indie scene, she is more than capable stepping into the blockbuster realm; I cannot wait to see what she does with The New Gods. However, Wrinkle shows more potential than a complete proof of concept, as the final product is rough around the edges.
DuVernay’s intentions are clear and noble, but the film’s delivery is somewhat haphazard in how it accomplishes them. The screenplay does a solid job of moulding the novel’s story into a more conventional adventure narrative, but the stop-start pacing in the first half means the film takes far too long to find a solid groove. The dialogue also comes off as cumbersome at times, with characters switching between well-enunciated technobabble and witty remarks in between lines, which often makes light of the artifice far more than the film’s outlandish design work ever does.
But even in spite of the narrative shortcomings, DuVernay’s command over the film remains strong, and the film is at its best when it abandons the spectacle and goes straight for the heart. The way the film imparts its core themes of unconditional kindness and pursuing light in the darkness is sure to inspire its young viewers and bring tears to the eyes of their elders. The impressive cast, led ably by relative newcomer Storm Reid in a star-making turn as Meg, further buoys the feels along. The Three Mrs as played by Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling go hard on their oddball characters but thankfully stay on the endearing side of kooky, whilst Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine help ground the story back into reality.
All in all, A Wrinkle in Time doesn’t fully stick the landing but it hits hard where it counts, delivering a sweet and timely sci-fi adventure for all the little warriors in us.
FINAL VERDICT: 7/10
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING
Starring: John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Scott Eastwood (Fast & Furious 8), Cailee Spaeny, Tian Jing (Kong: Skull Island), Rinko Kikuchi (47 Ronin), Burn Gorman (Crimson Peak), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
Director: Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil)
Writers: Steven S. DeKnight & Emily Carmichael & Kira Snyder (The 100) and T.S. Nowlin (The Maze Runner)
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes
Release Date: 23 March (US, UK)
The original Pacific Rim was first and foremost a juicy slab of popcorn entertainment for sure, but it was far more complex than most give it credit for. Guillermo Del Toro’s film was indeed chock full of giant robots fighting giant monsters, but it also imparted a strong globalist message about uniting to save our planet and better ourselves in the process. But without the now Oscar-winning director at the helm here, that balance has been definitely swung away from its intellectual undertones. Luckily, that doesn’t stop it having a blast in spite of that.
Uprising touches on similar beats and concepts from the first film, focusing more on developing the series mythology rather than character or theme. The story as a result rests a lot on tropes and is more an excuse to string together all of the new creature concepts and action sequences they’ve come up with. At times, the experience is so simplistic that it honestly feels more like the first few episodes of a non-existent animated series strung together. It fully embraces its anime and tokasatsu inspirations and goes straight for the awesome factor, and when the action is that passionate and imaginative, intellectual shortcomings can be forgiven.
John Boyega is a fantastic new face for the franchise, bringing a fairly generic character on paper to life with a double dose of charisma and enthusiasm. Newcomer Cailee Spaeny is also a lot of fun as Boyega’s rebellious trainee, and this is easily the most appealing Scott Eastwood has ever been as a performer. In regards to returning cast, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman’s chemistry is as strong as ever, best recapturing in their brief scenes the energy of Del Toro’s original, whilst on the flipside finding little to do for Rinko Kikuchi than quickly pass the torch to Boyega.
Pacific Rim: Uprising often feels more like a product than a feature film, but it retains enough of its forbearer’s soul to be worthwhile for fans. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in charm and fun, so it’s ultimately up to you if that’s enough.
FINAL VERDICT: 7.5/10