Oh, how sad.

March 2, 2010

A good book dramatization is effortless. It tells the story you know from the book but the plot is the least of its importance.  Some dialogue will be missing, some new transitions tossed in but the spirit should feel consistent.  But it also adds: a silent glance between people conveying worlds of meaning, a landscape straight out of imagination, a swelling orchestral score at just the right moment.  They can all be magical.

A bad one, on the other hand, is painful. A Wrinkle in Time (2003) is cringe-worthily banal.  Its not at all surprising – I didn’t think it could possibly be good but in the end I couldn’t resist my own curiosity.  The handwriting was on the wall in the opening scene in which Meg stands outside the house flashing back on days with her father and neither of them is wearing glasses.  That actually puts it a rung or two below movies where the female lead is initially nerdy but then takes off her glasses in her miraculous transition into a babe.  Meg and Charles Wallace’s mother is reduced from beautiful and brilliant scientist soldiering on to raise four kids alone to a soccer mom.

Which is not to say that it doesn’t have its points.  I’m a sucker for the cliche – Meg and Calvin are going to be magical no matter how poorly executed.  And Calvin O’Keefe strongly resembles the boy I had a crush on from 7th grade until well into my college years.  On the whole, however its just horrid and I’m not even factoring in the terrible effects.  The acting is tepid, the dialogue thin and the plot continues to throw in random complications – when they find their father he has a broken leg tied up with a ripped shirt although he’s been there for a year.  It makes for an interesting role reversal – instead of father carrying Meg out of the crystal column while wearing the glasses, he limps out supported by his theoretically empowered daughter.  But actually it just seems wrong.  And they can’t resist throwing in their own pseudo philosophical additions: “all seen things are impermanent and all unseen things are eternal.”  A logical fallacy if ever I heard one.  In the end I guess I just have to wonder why they bothered to make it into a movie.  Either Disney callously chose it for its cult classic status in the hopes of selling little plastic disks (which is sad) or someone loved it enough to marshal all the necessary resources, people and time and then … created this (which is much sadder).  I just hope the new Alice in Wonderland will be a better specimen of the type.

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