Welcome back. This week's blog post is a double feature review for A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider. Both of these movies have a big emphasis on adventure, but beyond that, I wouldn't say they have much in common. What film impressed me more? Read this post to find out. Let's charge ahead!
I really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, even though it has some issues. It was based on the book of the same name by Madeleine L'Engle. The film focuses on a girl named Meg Murry and her brother, Charles Wallace. Both of them are struggling to adjust and move forward after their father disappeared. He was a brilliant scientist who wanted to uncover a method of traveling through space and time. Three interdimensional beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which take the Murry children on a wild adventure to rescue their father from an intergalactic darkness. It's definitely not a conventional fantasy.
Firstly, I'm glad to see a movie with such a positive message. It promotes self-acceptance, love, courage, strong family values, and compassion. The story also points out many difficulties that young people face in the real world. It's the type of film that could help an audience connect emotionally and spiritually with the characters. Overall, it was a really good effort from the film makers.
Let's take a moment to point out some key performances. Storm Reid was fabulous as Meg Murry, the story's protagonist. She really knocked it out of the park with a strong and emotional performance. It might be easy for young ladies to identify with her character and she has a lot of positive qualities. Deric McCabe was entertaining as Charles Wallace. Meg's younger brother is a child genius who's quirky, funny, eccentric, socially awkward, and overly trusting. McCabe does a really good job of bringing out these elements. In fact, Storm Reid and Deric McCabe make a really fun duo. I also got a kick out of the three interdimensional beings who were played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. They're very strange, but cool in an odd way. The three characters bring out a lot of great fantasy elements and bind all of the central themes together.
A Wrinkle in Time has amazing world building elements. It's a great fantasy that has many similarities with classics like The Neverending Story and The Chronicles of Narnia. I have to admit some technical weaknesses in the visual effects, but they're still very creative and awesome. This movie brings a unique cosmic fantasy to the viewer and I doubt we'll a similar film in the near future. The visuals have a decent amount of depth. Some scenes are very bright, warm, and fun. Other scenes are darker, more suspenseful, and a little bit scarier. Ava DuVernay directed A Wrinkle in Time and I appreciate her effort. This is not an easy adaptation to film and DuVernay brought out a lot of creativity.
I can't ignore some noticeable issues with this movie. Even though I appreciate the uplifting message, it becomes very preachy and redundant sometimes. The film makers are hitting the viewer on the head with a hammer. It's not subtle at all and I assume a handful of audiences will resent this approach. The characters have a lot of exposition and awkward dialogue that point out this problem.
The writing is one of the film's biggest weaknesses. It has significant plot holes and some elements just didn't come together very well. I'm not saying the movie is confusing, but it doesn't answer certain questions and some of the scenes are very peculiar. The third act also falls apart to a certain extent. A better screenplay would help the characters transition from one scene to another without making the audience dizzy.
Unfortunately, this film isn't very accessible to adults. I liked it, but many adults will think it's just a kid's movie. Certain franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Wars find ways to entertain both children and adults. There are many ways to make it work, but A Wrinkle in Time can't seem to find enough middle ground.
I noticed some major flaws with Calvin O'Keefe, played by Levi Miller. He goes on the journey with Meg and Charles Wallace. This boy has a huge crush on Meg, even though they hardly know each other. He's literally awestruck by her without much of a reason. Calvin is a generic sidekick and he also serves as a damsel in distress. The film easily could have survived without him. However, I have to point out some good things about his character. Calvin is a really good kid with a big heart. It's refreshing to a see a trustworthy boy who isn't a delinquent.
Don't get overly turned off by my criticism. I believe A Wrinkle in Time makes a terrific family outing. Will hardcore fans of the book like this movie? I'm not totally sure. Some fans of the original story might feel disappointed. Others might appreciate Ava DuVernay's creative vision and uplifting themes. I recommend this film, except small children might find a few scenes a bit frightening. Despite its flaws, I'm willing to be forgiving because it has many good elements.
Tomb Raider is a lot different than A Wrinkle in Time. It's an action film that's based on the video game series of the same name. Specifically, it takes many influences from the reboot games that kicked off in 2013. This movie has a very different target audience than A Wrinkle in Time. It primarily caters to adults, gamers, and fans of the action genre.
Here's a basic layout of the plot. Lara Croft is the daughter of a corporate tycoon and adventurer. He disappeared seven years ago and she strongly believes he's still alive. She examines his menagerie of documents and discovers plans to search for a mythical tomb. Queen Himiko of Yamatai supposedly caused death to anyone who touched her hand and she was entombed alive to save countless lives. Richard Croft (Lara's father), disappeared while he was searching for Himiko's resting place. Lara finds a map that will lead her to the tomb, giving her a chance to find out what happened to her father. Her situation becomes dire when she encounters a band of mercenaries who work for a mysterious organization called Trinity.
I wish this film was more impressive, but it has some merit. It definitely has great action sequences. The action scenes are exciting and quickly paced with decent editing. There's also a good variety of action. You might expect all of the action scenes to look alike. However, each scene is different with various outcomes. Much of the action is taken straight out of the video game series. That's actually not a bad thing. It translates to live action cinema surprisingly well.
Alicia Vikander is a great fit for Lara Croft. Her performance is very convincing and she seems like a real person. She's brave and determined, but not flawless. Lara makes several mistakes along the way and learns from the experience. I feel like Vikander's performance is authentic and believable. A lot of action heroes seem fearless and far too perfect for any sense of reality. Vikander is very athletic and her character undergoes a lot of training, including MMA fighting and archery. So, the action builds off the character's skills and instincts.
Unfortunately, the story is pretty thin and predictable. It would work fine in video games, but we usually expect something more substantial on the big screen. The story follows the typical tropes in the Tomb Raider franchise and just moves from one puzzle or obstacle to the next. It has some plot holes and could benefit from a little more complexity.
The other characters weren't particularly impressive. Daniel Wu plays Lu Ren, one of Lara's allies. He's a decent action hero, but not the best actor. Lu Ren just seems like a generic sidekick who knows how to fight. I felt really disappointed with Walton Goggins who portrays Mathias Vogel, the film's antagonist. He's one dimensional, bland, and basically a typical video game villain. Vogel has very little character development and he's simply uninteresting. These characters would have benefited from better directing and writing.
I also have some criticism about the visual elements. The budget for this film was around ninety-four million dollars. But it seems like the visual effects were somewhat cheaper. Most of the visual effects seem artificial and a step backward from today's technology. A lot of the CGI is grainy and unpolished. I have a problem with some of the lighting too. We should expect a tomb to be dark, but the audience should still see what's happening without a lot of trouble. Certain scenes were dark to a fault and it took a while for my eyes to adjust when the movie finished.
Does this movie fix the video game dilemma? The short answer is no, but it's a step in the right direction. This version of Tomb Raider has a strong lead actress, entertaining action scenes, and it's not hokey or goofy. I'm just not sure if Tomb Raider works in cinema. Some stories are fine for games and it doesn't always work in a movie. Personally, I believe film makers are picking the wrong game adaptions. They should take games with more complex and intriguing stories. Games like BioShock, The Last of Us, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Evil Within might be better film adaptations. That's just my personal opinion. Although Rampage is coming out next month and it might blow everyone away. We'll see what happens.
I would rank A Wrinkle in Time slightly above Tomb Raider. Both films have comparable quality, even though they come from different genres. I enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time somewhat more, partly because it has such an uplifting message. It's definitely nice to see strong female leads. That seems to be a big trend in 2018 cinema. Ironically, both of these films feature missing fathers and strong willed daughters who need to recue them. It's an interesting, although unimportant observation. All together, I would like to see better writing and visual effects. That was a noticeable weakness in both movies.
You're probably going to see a double feature review of Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One in the near future. I hope both of those films are going to be really fun. Have you seen A Wrinkle in Time or Tomb Raider yet? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Thanks for visiting my blog again and enjoy your night at the movies. Bye!
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