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Reviews » 4K UHD Reviews » A Wrinkle in Time (2018) (4K Ultra HD) (4K UHD)
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) (4K Ultra HD) (4K UHD)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // June 5, 2018 // Region 0
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted June 15, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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THE FILM:

I will consider A Wrinkle in Time a huge misstep for otherwise talented director Ava DuVernay (Selma), and will remember Madeleine L'Engle's novel fondly despite this disastrous big-screen adaptation. Colorful, vacuous and dreadfully acted, this $100-million-plus adaptation fails in nearly every way. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling bumble annoyingly through the film's 109 minutes, and manage to make their astral-traveler characters both uninteresting and incomprehensible. Another huge problem is the kids searching for their lost father. Young actors Storm Reid and Deric McCabe play Meg Murry and her gifted younger brother, Charles Wallace, respectively, and are not enjoyable protagonists. Reid is especially annoying, and turns what should be a bright, iron-willed character into an incessant whiner. If you enjoy ugly, green-screen sets and ruined childhood classics, this is your ticket!

DuVernay's movie is the equivalent of those ugly Vera Bradley Easter-bunny-vomit purses. It's expensive, obnoxiously colorful, oddly constructed and full of a bunch of shit, like sticky sentimentality, dime-store virtues and diet familial drama. I really did hate this movie. What a missed opportunity to craft a resonant fantasy with human drama to anchor the science-fiction elements. A more straightforward approach may have improved the final product, and it was a curious decision to create a movie stuck in such a fantastical reality. The "real world" elements are no better, and I cannot help but wonder at which point director DuVernay realized the project had gotten away from her. A Wrinkle in Time is proof positive that a talented director, A-list cast, cash-rich production company, and excellent source material mean nothing without appropriate guidance.

Those familiar with the novel will recognize the basic storyline: Dr. Alexander Murry (Chris Pine), an astrophysicist, disappeared while studying astral travel and something called a "tesseract." His daughter Meg and her adopted brother Charles Wallace live with their mom Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and suffer due to the absence of Alexander. Meg gets in fights at school, and hits bully Veronica (Rowan Blanchard) in the face with a basketball when she makes fun of Charles Wallace. A strange woman shows up in the Murry house one night and introduces herself as Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon). The kids join her and meet Mrs. Who (Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey), who eventually explain that they are astral travelers who can take the children to different planets in search of their father. Along their journey, Meg and Charles Wallace, alongside their friend Calvin (Levi Miller), see wondrous sights but are threatened by a malevolent entity known as "IT."

I have seen a lot of praise for this film's ambition, and I cannot say DuVernay was content to deliver a pedestrian product. Unfortunately, the misguided way in which she weaves this story cripples the film. Instead of creating young heroes with mystical mentors, A Wrinkle in Time sticks spoiled brats with rambling loonies. The visuals and Tobias A. Schliessler's cinematography are less beautiful than seizure inducing, and at times you can easily forget you are not watching an animated film. And do not get me started about big Oprah. This laughable effect did nothing but take me completely out of the action. This is a huge disappointment and missed opportunity for all involved. The Disney hype machine tends to steamroll any naysayers, but A Wrinkle in Time is one flick that should quickly be placed in the vault.

THE 4K ULTRA HD:

PICTURE:

Disney releases the film with a 2.39:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 transfer with HDR10 capabilities. Shot at 3.4K on ARRI Alexa cameras, this is a slight upscale to 4K resolution that nonetheless offers impressive visuals. Compared to the excellent Blu-ray presentation, this 4K disc excels in color saturation and contrast. The visuals may be misguided, but they certainly look great in 4K. Clarity and sharpness are both excellent: Fine-object details, facial features and fabric textures are readily visible, and wide shots are clean and precisely rendered. Black levels are inky, shadow detail is abundant and highlights never bloom. In fact, there are some bright outdoor scenes in which the image is much more detailed in this 4K transfer. Colors are bold and perfectly saturated. There is very minor aliasing in a scene or two, but I did not notice any other overt flaws.

SOUND:

The included Dolby Atmos mix, which I sampled as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, exhibits the same volume-level issues that have plagued other recent Disney releases, but, when turned up, sounds quite good. The spatial effects are appropriately robust, and there are plenty of sound pans to excite surround-sound fans. Dialogue is crisp and clear, whether delivered from the center channel or directionally. Ambient and action effects are appropriately integrated, and the score is nicely executed. I was disappointed in the slightly anemic bass, but there are no huge problems here either. English, French and Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus mixes are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the 4K Ultra HD disc, a Blu-ray and a digital copy. The discs are packed in a black 4K case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Although there are a couple of bonus features on the Blu-ray, I would hardly call this an "Ultimate Collector's Edition..." A Journey Through Time (30:28/HD) is a making-of that touches on the novel, direction, casting and filming. There are also four Deleted Scenes with optional director's commentary (9:36 total/HD); an Audio Commentary from DuVernay and a host of others; two Music Videos (7:48 total/HD); and Bloopers (1:36/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Disney's new live-action adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's novel is as colorful as it is meaningless. A disjointed, irritating science-fiction trainwreck with poor acting and ugly visuals, A Wrinkle in Time is a huge disappointment for director Ava DuVernay and all involved. Skip It.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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