Madeleine L'Engle's Newbery Medal-winning fantasy was quite unusual for its time: a loquacious children's novel that blends discussions of quantum physics and upper-echelon mathematics with a Christian subtext likely inspired by C.S. Lewis. So much so that, at times, these CGI tricks threaten to dwarf the kids at the heart of this story. But Ava DuVernay, given the option to make a high-budget genre spectacle, has gone down a different path, a lot like her longtime friend Ryan Coogler did with Black Panther. The best way to appreciate what she has done is in the company of a curious and eager 10-year-old (as I was fortunate enough to do).
Much of the acting is stiff and clumsy, and Ramin Djawadi's relentlessly maudlin orchestral score - which never, ever lets up - makes one want to scream for relief.
REID: (As Meg) Can you help us find him please? And they all proved to be polarizing movies with a great many fans and detractors who love and hate the adaptations with equal and opposite levels of passion. Since that insecurity is worn like a shroud, she's naturally a target for mean-spirited classmates. Because of her low self-esteem, Meg can not seem to fathom why anyone would compliment her or think that she is special. She's a marvelous heroine. Meg's father (Chris Pine), a brilliant and ambitious scientist, has disappeared, leaving behind Meg; her brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe); and their mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is also a brilliant and ambitious scientist. One can but wince. And the strength she had to have to do that, from the moment I read that book I kept it with me and my daughter was reading it when I started writing this and we had endless conversations about this.
Stuff just happens here, for neither rhyme nor reason, building to an ultimate confrontation between ... well, the same two sides that concerned C.S. Lewis. The fact that Charles Wallace's adopted identity is both central to the story and irrelevant to the love that Meg has for her little brother is one of the best parts of the film.
LEVI MILLER: (As Calvin) I can't tell what they're saying. When the movie finishes, one feels like they've been taken on a journey, but not an especially fulfilling one. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. I liked the flying flowers, the interior of what looks like a cosmic golf ball, and Meg's descent to Earth on silken strands that might be a sort of visual pun on string theory.
She was spotted sharing some celebratory dance moves and a sweet hug with her co-star Reese Witherspoon. Kaling, Winfrey and Witherspoon bring nothing to the party here; their interpretations are interchangeably contrived, freakish and clumsily unconvincing.
Now, as the film kicks into gear, it's four years later.
The eventual confrontation between the children and IT, on Camazotz, is the book's most thrilling portion.
Ryan Coogler has praised his "big sister" Ava DuVernay for "making the impossible look easy".
The movie doesn't really come out of its New Age snooze until the Three Whatevers profess themselves too exhausted to continue and inform Meg and the others that they must face off against the IT by their lonesomes. (Then again, the line does not appear in the movie, possibly because the filmmakers knew they had sabotaged said theme.) Also, it's unfortunate that the film eliminates the novel's references to Christianity that resulted in it being banned from some libraries.