Is “A Wrinkle In Time” Any Good?

By Chris Narloch

We shall see if “A Wrinkle In Time” unseats “Black Panther” as the top film at the box office this weekend. I doubt that will happen, but Disney’s latest release should at least come in a strong second to “Panther.”

Believe it or not, there are other movies currently playing in theaters as well, although you wouldn’t know it, given the enormous hype around those two blockbusters. Read on for my latest film reviews.

A Wrinkle In Time
Young girls will probably enjoy Ava DuVernay’s new live-action, big-screen version of “A Wrinkle In Time,” but adults may feel, like I did, that this adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s book is a disappointment.

A great deal of money was spent on the film’s special effects and its high-powered cast, but the result isn’t the magical ride I had hoped for, given the talent involved.

Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mindy Kaling are the ostensible stars of the film, but their roles are actually supporting ones, and the three young actors cast in the movie have the responsibility of carrying the film.

I wish I could report that they succeed, but only Storm Reid (as Meg) is up to the task. Luckily, Reid has the largest part in “A Wrinkle In Time,” as a young girl who time travels through the cosmos in search of her long-missing father.

There is no denying the integrity of the movie’s multi-cultural cast and its girl-power message, but I found the overuse of CGI in the film more than a little irritating.

Gringo
If you are in the mood for a nasty, pitch-black dark comedy, then by all means check out “Gringo,” an action-packed if ultimately hollow thriller starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, and Joel Edgerton, who seems to be on half the nation’s movie screens this month.

Oyelowo is terrific as a mild-mannered middle manager at a company that markets a cannabis pill who gets in way over his head while on a business trip to Mexico.

After his character learns that his job is going to be eliminated, he fakes his own kidnapping and then – you guessed it – gets kidnapped for real (repeatedly).

The cast, which also includes Amanda Seyfried and Thandie Newton, is first-class, especially Oyelowo and Theron -- the latter playing a stunningly beautiful uber-bitch who asks a man to pull out his dick inside a bar and show her what he’s “working with” before she will agree to go home with him.

Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence may need a time out (or maybe a new agent?) if she wants to avoid the dreaded “Oscar curse,” which can derail a young actor who receives acclaim and awards and then starts to take themselves too seriously.

We all know that Lawrence can act. She deserved the Oscar she won for “Silver Linings Playbook,” and she was also excellent in “Winter’s Bone,” “American Hustle,” and even the “Hunger Games” films.

Her last three movies, however, have been real bummers: “Passengers,” “Mother!” and now “Red Sparrow.” The actress is so wacky and wonderful on talk shows that I know she could make a funny film, but I guess those witty scripts are hard to come by.

Instead, we again have Lawrence trying to impress us with her intensity, which has already been proven onscreen in her other movies. C’mon girl, lighten up and make a comedy already!

“Red Sparrow” is anything but a comedy, with Lawrence as a former ballerina who gets pimped out by her own relative and turned in to a sexual spy for the Russian state.

The movie’s violent premise is meant to be edgy and sexy, but I found the story boring and depressing until hunky Joel Edgerton (as the love interest) stripped down to little black briefs and ran around, which woke me up momentarily.

Annihilation
Of the newer movies in theaters, this is the one I would actually pay to see, after you’ve checked out “Black Panther,” that is.

A mostly female cast kicks butt in director Alex Garland’s follow-up to his excellent 2015 feature, “Ex Machina.” Garland likes to mix genres together, with elements of sci-fi, drama, horror, and psychological thriller all jumbled together.

That strategy doesn’t work quite as well with “Annihilation” as it did in “Ex Machina,” but the new film is still a cut above the average American thriller, and I really enjoyed watching the movie’s eclectic “girl power” cast, which includes Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Sexy Oscar Isaac plays the smaller male role in “Annihilation,” as Portman’s husband, who comes back from a mysterious mission changed (and not in a good way).

Portman and her “sisterhood” endeavor to find out what happened to her hubby by entering Area X, the location of his mission, which has been covered in a strange translucent bubble called the Shimmer.

When the team begins to have hallucinations during their journey, they (and we) aren’t sure what is real and what is not, and the movie climaxes with a freaky, sci-fi head-trip that is the best part of the film.



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