Dora and The Lost Movie Badly Told

SHORT TAKE:

Disjointed mess of a movie based upon a cartoon with no real effort to make a live action worthwhile. Choppily written and poorly acted, what is not cliché looks like a weekend effort to produce an advertisement for the Dora the Explorer cartoon series.

WHO SHOULD GO:

There’s nothing inappropriate for children but nothing of merit to keep their attention either.

LONG TAKE:

In the movie Daddy Day Care, while meeting one of their newest six-year old charges, they discover the kid can speak Klingon. Steve Zahn’s character, Marvin, who plays the resident geek of everything television, translates then asks, shocked, “How much television does this kid WATCH?!” I wondered the same thing about the filmmakers of Dora. It felt written by someone whose childhood was spent absorbing WAAAAAY too many television visual and sound bites OR who had zero confidence in their audiences’ ability to maintain any attention span whatsoever. That, with the rushed weekend-shoot quality, bad acting from even the likes of Michael Pena and Eugenio Derbez, and the TV movie unrealism of wearing clean white pants after 2 days sleeping rough, made it impossible to relate to this movie.

The structure, such as it was, never settled down. I had whiplash 20 minutes in as Dora kept changing the direction of the story.

This movie is all over the place. Dora can’t decide if it wants to be The Lego Movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a kid version of Indiana Jones, a live action cartoon, or a spoof of her origin animation.

It opens as though you’re watching an episode of a live action Dora The Explorer, with a six year old Dora dancing and skipping in pristine clothes through a jungle full of arguably dangerous animals, like a poisonous frog. Then we cut to discover it was all in her imagination as she sits in a plywood race car with her cousin, Diego. Then during dinner she repeatedly looks off in the distance to empty air asking “Can YOU say _________” filling the blank in with a previous spoken word or scientific reference. Even her Dad thinks this is weird and her mom assures him she will outgrow it.

Diego leaves with his parents to America and we cut 10 years later to Dora, now played by Isabela Moner, (wonderful in Instant Family), whose talents are excruciatingly wasted in this movie, singing her way through the jungle with a talking monkey – which turns out NOT to be part of her imagination, even though the rendering of the chimp is decidedly unrealistic.

And then, despite everything else being more or less based on real life, there is the walking, talking fox with a thief mask who interacts with humans as though he wandered in from a sequel to the awful Incredible Mr. Fox. Even the chimp is not openly this anthropomorphized, except in one sequence alone with Dora, which COULD have been a moment of Dora’s overactive imagination. So the presence of Swiper among the troop of entirely human bad guys is just — odd — as though SOMEone had inhaled a bit too much of the hallucinogenic pollen which makes all the characters – for about 5 minutes of the movie – think they ARE cartoons.

For a while I kept expecting this to all be a continued figment of her imagination, ala Lego Movie. But it was just weird bad writing.

Dora is portrayed as an aggressively cheerful Pollyanna who seems oblivious to most social customs, all attributed to the fact she was homeschooled by her professor parents as they explored the jungle.

Then we switch to a “fish out of water” story as Dora is sent to live with her aunt, uncle and now grown and civilization-acclimated cousin, Diego (Jeff Walhberg) so her clueless parents (the usually scene stealing Michael Pena – adorable in Antman and heartbreaking in Collateral Beauty) and Eva Longoria can go look for the City of Gold. Pena tries over hard to quirk up the movie but an interminable minute of his beat box “Rave” music imitation is more painful than amusing.

Walhberg, nephew of Mark Walhberg, spends most of the movie looking embarrassed. It was hard to tell whether his pained expression came from his character’s embarrassment over his awkward cousin’s behavior, or the actor’s own personal humiliation for signing on to this poor outing. Dora is sent to a traditional institutional school where, despite her obvious education and intelligence she can not grasp the art of “fitting in”.

THEN, cobbling together an excuse for a Jumanji-style misfit group – the jealous class pet, Sammy (Madeleine Madden), the geeky infatuated boy, Randy (Nicholas Coombe), Dora’s cousin, Diego, and Dora – are all kidnapped and brought to the jungle as hostages to convince Dora’s parents to help the bad guy treasure hunter, ala Indiana Jones, find a lost city of gold. Dora’s parents are purist explorers who would never seek to prosper from their educational finds, yet never explain how they can afford to spend all their time in comparative luxury out in the wilds.

On top of everything else Dora sings her way through different moments – not like a musical but with the kind of singsong childish skipping pieces one might hear in a —- 10 minute cartoon.  She even makes up a “poo song” for a city friend who must abide by a call of nature outside for the first time in her life. 90 minutes of this had me rooting for the bad guys.

The last scene indulges in a Disneyfied-Bollywood dance sequence. The energetic choreography in Indian-sourced movies are usually my favorite parts. The dances in the true Bollywoods are meant to enhance the demonstration of emotional bonding which has progressed throughout the movie. In Dora, it’s more like sending disappointed kids off from a poorly planned and rained out celebration with soggy party bags, it just doesn’t help make anyone feel better about the event.

And it’s a shame because such a good movie could have been made out of the idea of a rugged homeschooled kid providing guidance literally and socially to a bunch of institutionalized kids to help them think outside of the box and become better people. Sadly, this is NOT that movie.

I suppose it could have been worse given the lead writers were Cliff Gifford who, as creator of the Dora cartoon,  has, previously, not really written for people and Matthew Robinson whose major screen credits up to now have involved movies titled Sex Surrogates and Jerked.

In short, don’t waste your time on this nearly two hours of drivel.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: A MIXED BAG – BUT ANOTHER PUZZLE PIECE IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE OVERALL PICTURE

SHORT TAKE:

Flawed selfish characters in a plot full of holes, but even faulty Marvel hero films are fun. If you do go – STAY FOR TWO IMPORTANT END CREDIT SCENES!

WHO SHOULD GO:

I'd advise parental discretion here. There is a lot to commend it as a fun action-adventure. But while Ant-Man is altruistic and focused on his family, the Pyms are selfish and unconcerned about the damage they do to others. And there is a sprinkling of mild "cuss" words as well as one very inappropriate strong profanity, especially for a child's film, uttered by Hank in a moment of stress.

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LONG TAKE:

Before I start my review, let me just say that I LIKED Ant-Man and The Wasp. The story and characters are very flawed, but like the oddly cut, and hard to place piece in a jigsaw puzzle, it fits into its own little niche.

TRIED NOT TO SPOIL BUT SOME REFERENCES INEVITABLY IMPLY THINGS SO HEREBY BE FOREWARNED

The Pyms are the singularly most flawed enhanced individuals in the Marvel Universe. I don't call them "heroes" because during the course of the entire movie they don't do one heroic thing. Lang and his ex-cons are another story, as they risk their lives, livelihood and freedom to help the Pyms. But outside of Loki and pretrained Dr. Strange, the Pyms are the most selfish "good guys" we've met. Strange reforms and Loki is at least witty and has spectacular style.

Even Thanos THINKS what he's trying to do is for the good of the Universe and is willing to make personal sacrifices for others – no matter how colossally and tragically misguided Thanos' intentions are.

And DEADPOOL! While, admittedly, Deadpool has an agenda of vengeance, his goal is to take out bad guys, which is to the benefit of innocents everywhere, AND he is willing to sacrifice his otherwise potentially immortal life for a kid he hardly knows. When Deadpool is a better moral example than the Pyms, you know the Pyms have issues.

Here's another way to look at it.

Whether Ant-Man AKA Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the Wasp AKA Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are good guys or bad guys kind of depends upon whether or not their universe is full of NPC's. For those of us not video gamers, an NPC is a non-player character, a critter or human which is really just part of the landscape serving as a decoration, target, or information access. Their deaths are irrelevant to the game's outcome.

The premise of Ant-Man and The Wasp concerns the Pyms who are trying to retrieve Janet Pym, (Michelle Pfeiffer), the wife of Hank and mother of Hope, from the quantum realm in which she was lost three decades before during a mission to disarm a nuclear weapon.

To accomplish this they kidnap Scott from his house arrest 3 days before he will have served his full term, which sentence resulted from his participation in the events of Captain America: Civil War. This kidnapping puts Scott at risk of getting him thrown in jail for the next 20 years and missing his daughter's entire youth. During the course of the movie the Pyms shrink and enlarge everything from cars to buildings to Pez dispensers and humans. In the real world many of these activities, especially when accomplished during car chases on busy highways and in populous areas, would have resulted, inevitably, in the collateral deaths of many bystanders.

All this in order to rescue one adult human, who, though lost performing a heroic act, volunteered knowing exactly what would happen to her. While their goal is admirable, the lengths to which they go are not. I understand WHY they do what they do but it does not justify their actions.

There is a Biblical truism which warns that no goal, no matter how good, can be justified with even a single evil act. While granting that rule must be temporized with common sense, someone committing a small sin to further the noblest goal would still have to take responsibility for their actions. And there is no doubt that wrecking havoc on an entire city and putting hundreds, if not thousands, of other people's lives in danger for the benefit of a single person, is neither a small sin nor an admirable plan.

In addition, Hope Pym is another in a growing list of tiresome, condescending, feminist, "I can do anything better than you can," chip-on-their-shoulder, self-absorbed, female characters which have most notably reared their ugly heads in the Star Wars franchise, as well as movies like Oceans 8. (Click on the names to access those reviews.)

All that being said Ant-Man and The Wasp is, kind of obviously even from the title, a fantasy science fiction. If we can keep that in mind, for the sake of this review, and the fantasy in which such stories live, let us presume that at least no innocent person, by some miracle, was harmed during the course of the movie and that all property damage was duly compensated by the Pyms using some kind of techno gizmo.

If you think that's absurd, then consider that we are discussing a movie wherein the characters can shrink themselves down to quantum level size and enlarge themselves to the height of tall buildings in a moment and with no permanent ill-effects.

I can live with that.

Moving forward from there, I can safely say that Ant-Man and The Wasp is a very fun movie. It is a family-friendly action adventure with a couple of provisos. Scott Lang and his crew of lovably goofy but well intentioned fellow ex-cons, Luis (Michael Pena), Kurt (David Dastmelchian), and Dave (Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. aka T.I. shortened and altered into initials from the nickname "Tip" which his grandfather gave him), appropriately enough, run a security company. Who better would know how to stop a thief than another thief? They risk their new business to help the Pyms.

The dialogue is often tongue and cheek, such as when cliche comments are taken literally and responded to in kind. An example is a prolonged and funny discussion between Luis and the villain Sonny (Walton Goggins) as to whether or not the torture drug they are about to administer to Luis should be properly referred to as truth serum and then the Shrek style Pinocchio recitation Sonny gets from Luis of irrelevancies in response to asking where Scott is.

Little is taken really seriously so I suppose the car chases and suddenly and constantly expanding and shrinking buildings and people shouldn't be either.

The plot is interesting, especially as there are multiple sets of conflicting interests. The Pyms wish to save Janet. Scott wants to help the Pyms but stay out of jail. Sonny wants the Pym's tech to sell. Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) needs the Pym tech to solve her chronic state of quantum flux inflicted on her as a child when her father's experiment goes awry, an accident she blames on Hank Pym. Foster has his own agenda. The Fed, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), wants to catch SOMEbody — ANYbody!. And the ex-con friends are just simply agog to be involved with super hero "stuff". Frankly, given all the contrasting interests involved, the ONLY thing that maintains Hank's priority of use of the tech is the fact that he invented and owns the technology.

Everyone believes their cause justifiable but only Sonny is seen as the real bad guy . Hwever, since Scott, the Pyms and their friends are the ones through whose eyes we see the proceedings, they are the ones for whom we are supposed to root.So we are to ignore when bystanders are put at risk……………??

OK.  I'm fine with that. This is, after all, a science fiction fantasy. I mean, come on, the guy's riding an ant.

Violence is cartoonish and the language is pretty clean until Hank lets loose with at least one over the top profanity I could have done without in a child's movie. For parental guidance I am quick to seek information from www.screenit.com. Membership is cheap and well worth it.

The rest is what we've come to expect from a Marvel Superhero Movie, with lots of exciting special effects which worked really well with 3D by the way. I'm not normally a big 3D fan but the flying-fighting scenes were ratchted up at least a half a notch by the glasses. The flashbacks featuring a younger Michelle Pfeiffer were the best I've ever seen, though Douglas suffered from the typical overly smoothed face and peculiar facial expressions common to this cinematographic magic trick. I think it is something about the mouth that just doesn't look right most of the time. I'm not singling out Douglas. I am aware of his medical issues and that is not the problem because this is universal to any time older actors are "youthened" by CGI.

 Also, Pfieffer's character is the point of one of the biggest plot holes – how did she survive 30 years in a hostile environment with zero resources? Food? Water? Bathroom? She aged and referenced being aware of the passage of 30 years time. She didn't even have a pack of cards so even if she didn't have to eat or drink, how did she manage not to go insane? This is completely glossed over without mention and I've found no precedent for answers even from comic book geeks on the net.

Another one that bugged (sorry about the pun) me was the physics which operated conveniently to the plot. On the one hand, being shrunk seems to afford some survivability not usually possible – like falls and impacts which would destroy a normal unshrunk human. This would imply a certain enhanced density. Granted, the suit they wear must help a lot but does not account for every instance – such as when their helmets are off. If the humans had been tiny but undense they could have been swatted like fairies or butterflies. Instead they carry an enormous amount of momentum and punch in fights. This implies the matter is all there but concentrated. On the other hand, Hank can pick up an entire shrunken building and people carry it around as though it was made of styrofoam. Even a scale model of that building would have been heavier than presented had it been made of the same unconcentrated steel girder and concrete materials, much less how many thousands of tons it should weight even in its shrunken but dense state. So which is it guys?

On the positive side, the jokes are funny, Scott doing his best as a father was refreshing, and I enjoyed the lighter tone of the movie, especially since the previous one I saw was Infinity Wars. However, on that note, and without giving any spoilers — hold onto your seat. Let's just say it is important to sit through all of the credits and that the FIVE screenwriters (talk about a story written by committee!): Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd (the Ant-Man, himself), Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, as well as director, Peyton Reed, were definitely aware of the aforementioned movie.

In short, without a score card, it is difficult to tell whether the Pyms or Sonny is the "bad guy" team. The Pyms' goals are exclusively personally, relatively trivial in the grand scheme considering what they are willing to do to others, ignore the desperate needs of others, like Ava, casually put the safety and security of Lang's family and friends at risk by yanking Scott out of his house arrest a mere three days before he will be free, dismissively ignore Hank's possible culpability in Ava's condition, and put thousands of innocent bystanders in mortal danger.

It is not their best Marvel movie, nor does it try to be but it does hold its own and finds its place in the Marvel universe. I especially enjoyed the addition of Michelle Pfeiffer as new blood into the mix and the return of Scott's motley crue of comic convicts led by Michael Pena (Collaterol Beauty), who is always a pleasure, especially when he is telling one if his overly convoluted stories.

So, you older geeks (like me) – go see Ant-Man and the Wasp, if for no other reason than to put another puzzle piece into the overall picture that is the Marvel Universe, but I'd see it before deciding whether or not to bring impressionable kids.

A WRINKLE IN TIME – DISTURBING AND REPULSIVE ARE NOT TOO STRONG

SHORT TAKE:

Child's classic story brutally stripped of all vestiges of the originally intended Christian allegory, amateurishly directed with irritatingly constant close-ups, lackluster adult performances, and distractingly stupid costumes. This new A Wrinkle in Time is a glittering dead heap of New Age pseudo-philosophical jargon. But the kids were cute.

LONG TAKE:

To say this movie was a disappointment would be one of this year’s great understatements. To say it was a laughably bad movie would be falling short of a full expose. To say it was offensive to Christianity in general and the Christian faith of its author would not be amiss. There is so much wrong with the new movie titled A Wrinkle in Time (it would be an insult to the source material to call it a filmed version of the book) that I have to do it by category.

Unlike most awards shows or Johnny Carson’s "lists" I will start with the most important first.

The ORIGINAL BOOK premise is that a teenaged girl, her friend Calvin and genius little brother go on a quest to find the teenaged girl’s father. The father, Mr Murray, was captured four years before by a great ubiquitous evil (presumably original sin) while trying to travel through the universe by "wrinkling" space with his mind. The time "wrinkle" of the title is supposed to work the same way and allows them to get back five minutes after their adventure begins. The children are aided by off-world/other-wordly angel-like creatures who masquerade as Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatzit, and Mrs. Which, quirky little old ladies here on Earth.

THEME

Book

The author Madeleine L’Engle was a devout Christian. She served as the librarian and writer in residence at New York City’s John the Divine Episcopalian church and her faith informed everything she wrote. Sarah Arthur, author of a biography on Madeleine L’Engle expressed it this way: "It was the wonder and humility of scientists, especially theoretical physicists like Max Planck and Albert Einstein, who eventually convinced [L’Engle] to become Christian. If the Creator of a vast and surprising cosmos could love this small planet enough to become one of us…that was a faith worth clinging to." L’Engle herself is quoted in a 1979 interview with Christianity Today: "I believe we can understand cosmic questions only through particulars. I can only understand God through one specific particular, the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth." Then, again, in case there is any vestige of doubt as to her perception of Jesus: "To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians [this]…wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn."

Keep in mind I was never a fan of this author or this book. Nothing against either – I had just never read anything of L’Engle’s until I blitzed A.W.I.T. to get perspective on the movie. It quickly becomes obvious, to even the casual observer or non-believer, that L’Engle intended a CS Lewis-style Christian allegory.

For example, the angel-like winged creatures which inhabit the origin planet of the three other-worldy Mrs. W’s fly and dance singing constantly. What they sing is: "Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the ends of the earth, ye that go down to the sea…the isles…the inhabitants…the wilderness…the cities…the rock…let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord."

When the three Mrs. W’s explain to the children they will be fighting a terrible evil darkness, they ask who they can think of on Earth who has fought the darkness. Mrs. Who herself quotes John 1: 5, "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." To which one of the children immediately shouts: "Jesus! … Why of course, Jesus!" Mrs. Who then asks the children who else might be those who fight against the darkness and the list is: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Bach, Pasteur, Curie, Einstein, Schweitzer, Gandhi, Buddha, Beethoven, Rembrandt, St. Francis, Euclid, and Copernicus. All of these are people who have fought and some who died to alleviate suffering, bring beauty into the world, and help comprehend the intricacies of the world’s Intelligently Created order.

Mrs. Who usually speaks in quotes of the famous: Shakespeare "We are such stuff as dreams are made of", Pascal, Dante, Seneca, Perez, Horace, Cervantes "Experience is the mother of knowledge", Delille "How small is the Earth to him who looks from Heaven", Euripides "Nothing is hopeless, we must hope for everything", the Bible, and Goethe – the Good Book plus European and British poets, philosophers and authors. She speaks in: English, Latin, Italian, Spanish, German, French, Portugese and Greek.

Movie

In 1959 Charlton Heston starred in Ben Hur – a movie about an unjustly imprisoned man and his family who, through direct encounters with Christ, are redeemed, learn forgiveness, and find healing in soul and body. At the end of the movie the main character’s sister and mother, diseased with leprosy, are cured by touching the blood which flowed from Christ on the Cross through the rivulets of water during the storm following Jesus’ death. There is no question, as John Wayne’s character said in The Greatest Story Ever Told: "Truly this man was the Son of God." That was back in the day when even establishment Hollywood knew how to make a religious movie, when practicing Jewish producers, directors and writers respected the faith of their Christian brethren and vica versa.

In 2006 Ben Hur was divested of all reference to the Divinity of Jesus and reduced the character to —- well, he was a very nice man. No cure for the sister and mother, no major revelations.

New Ben Hur was disappointing at best, offensive at worse, right? But 2006's Ben Hur was by far a more theologically rich movie than 2018's travesty of A Wrinkle in Time because in the 2006 Ben Hur at least Jesus makes a guest appearance!

This 2018 A.W.I.T. is a twisting of the classic children’s book which skins and strips the living Christianity out of every iota of the story until it is a glittering dead heap of new age pseudo-philosophical jargon.

In Mrs. Who’s quotes they replace Pascal (mathematician), Dante (theological poet) – two extremely devout Christians, and Euripides – a classic Greek playwright whose works have survived the test of 2,500 years of time, with Gilbran, a popular but vague and muddled cult writer whose theology is so muddled together in an ecclectic stew of ideas as to be indecipherable, Rumi – a Muslim poet, included, no doubt in a syncophantic bow to Hollywood’s god of diversity, and ……. Chris Tucker "Dang". Chris Tucker? "Dang" is a quote? REALLY? How "in the face" of Western European Classic culture with a middle finger can you get than including a "quote" by a flash in the pan American comedian? And Outkast – they quote Outkast "You need to git out, git up and git something" – a modern American HIP HOP group! And Miranda from the pathetic excuse for a historic musical, Hamilton "Tomorrow they'll (sic) be more of us". Even their Shakespeare is vapid "When shall we three meet again" and is spoken by the EVIL WITCHES FROM MACBETH!!! How dumb are these people? They're having the good guys quote Satanically evil bad guys. Or maybe they knew exactly what they were doing and subtley endorsing the very evil the heroes of this story are supposed to be fighting!

What is WRONG with them?!? At least quote Americans who have something to say – George Washington, Martin Luther King, Thomas Paine, Booker T. Washington, Emily Dickenson, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, even Groucho Marx who was at least funny!!!!!

Most egregiously – in the list of those who fight the darkness, Jesus, whose name is mentioned first and with emphasis by Ms. L’Engle and referenced directly and indirectly several other times, is never named. Not — even — once. Not once in the entirety of this whole misbegotten travesty of a movie. The writers of this script do not so much as mention the name of the Son of God for whom this entire book was written.

Instead of sound theology we get new age woman-hood-ness-ish nonsense – everything revolves around Meg and her blossoming into a "warrior", boosting her self-esteem and encouraging her to think better of herself. Do you know who, demographically, are the single group with the highest self-esteem? Career criminals. This is what gets them into trouble. They have little empathy or use for others. They think they are the center of the universe and when the universe, society in general and the criminal justice system disagree they end up in jail. THIS is the model they wish to set up as the New Age Princess? And, I guess, Calvin and her little brother Charles Wallace are disposable because they are boys, as demonstrated by her lack of concern after the rock tornado, as described below. And her father is useless because he "abandoned" them.

SCRIPT

The only thing that moves faster than light is darkness……..um what the HECK does that mean? Darkness is the absence of light, not a thing unto itself. This dumb concept isn’t in the book.

Having taken out all references to Christianity, including the home planet society of angels and their praise and worship of the Living God, the writers had to fill in time with SOMEthing. So they decided on stupid things which did nothing to further the narrative – like a rock tornado which chases the children, during which time the protective Meg incomprehensibly forgets all about her little brother. After the crisis has ended Charles Wallace’s sudden reappearance is taken with a ho hum shrug instead of the hysterical relief it should have merited.

Calvin in the book is always respectful and solicitous of Meg but in the movie has at least one moment of unexplained downright stalk-y creepiness after the rock tornado.

The movie contains, in a (presumably accidental) scene of accuracy to the book a street full of children who all bounce their balls in unison. Mothers call their children to come in simultaneously. In this scene from the book as well as other scenes in the book which emphasize the concept, Ms. L’Engle exposes the calamity of socialistic and communistic loss of individuality and the evil of the tyrannical requirement of cliquish uniformity. Apparently this hit way too close to home for the writers as the follow ups which made this one street scene make sense were cut out. Gone is the newspaper boy who throws newspapers with exacting rhythmicness, then explains he will be "reprocessed" if he does not. Excised are scenes where people in the downtown area move about in drab and anxious uniformity. I guess it would have expressed the evil of the hive mind too well.

DIRECTION

Apparently Ms. DuVernay went to the TV soap opera school of direction because every emotion – be it awe, fear, grief, joy, or surprise, was given a CLOSE-UP!!!!!!!! I mean a CLOSE-UP!!! so far in that you not only lost most of the top of their head but any connection to whom that person was talking. You get no reaction shots unless you cut to another CLOSE-UP!!!!! This gets tiresome after the first three or four DOZEN times she does this. There were so many CLOSE-UPS!!!! I thought I was going to get a nose bleed.

ACTING

You might laugh at the idea of Oprah Winfrey acting but I’ve seen her do a smashingly good job. Not only did she do a truly noteworthy job as the abused and abusive wife in The Color Purple, but she didn’t mind looking really ugly, dumpy and every worn mile of her character’s hard life. I thought at the time that she could have a decent career in performance. Alas it was not to be and this cringy amateur-ish mechanical reading of her lines is the result.

The kids are actually pretty good. I liked them. Not much they could do with the washed out script but Storm Reid was emphathizable as Meg, the grieving daughter, Levi Miller was charming and natural as Calvin, the friend, and Deric McCabe was quite believable as the prodigiously intelligent little brother of Meg, Charles Wallace. Unfortunately, most of the kids’ moments are ruined with the ubiquitous and unrelenting CLOSE-UPS!!!!!!

Chris Pine, who does a terrific job as the new Captain Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek movies, is totally wasted as Mr. Murry, the lost father. All he gets an opportunity to do is weep and look desperately sad in CLOSE-UPS!!!!!

COSTUME

Book

The Mrs. W’s were unassuming, mousey-looking, grandma-like little old ladies, going about their magical business in stealth and modest inconspicuousness. Mrs Whatzsit even goes so far as to "borrow" a neighbor’s sheets to make humble ragamuffin clothes.

Movie

The three "leads" were doodied up like Glenda the Good Witch parading on the Red Carpet during the Oscars. They were dolled up to be young, beautiful, wealthy and ostentatious – the exact opposite of what Ms. L’Engle intended.

Mrs. Whatzits' sheets, instead of the homemade hodgepodge they were to be intended, look as though they were designed by Yves Saint Laurent. Ms. Who wore large flashy bell like get ups I marveled that she didn’t fall and roll in during one scene where she was required to run mincingly down a hill. And Mrs Which – well if you like to see three story high versions of Oprah Winfrey dressed in reject Liberace costumes last used when he was King of Bacchus………

CHARACTERS

Book

In the book, when they arrive at Uriel, the home planet of the Mrs. W’s, Mrs. Who transforms into a creature one might encounter as an angel in CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce. In The Great Divorce, denizens of Purgatory are given a bus tour of Heaven including seeing angels. The creatures of Uriel are much like those angels – powerful and regal, much like a centaur with wings of shimmering filigree that take your breath away.

The Happy Medium is a ploy for Ms. L’Engle to let the children get a safe look at IT, the evil thing which inhabits all of Camazotz and hovers threateningly over Earth, causing strife and pain. The Happy Medium is a simple woman with a crystal ball who prefers to see happy things but willingly helps the Mrs. W’s and the children in a simple projection from her ball.

Movie

Instead of a majestic angel, Mrs Whatzit turns into a green stingray with the head of an artichoke and drops Calvin in mid-flight. This, of course, does not happen in the book but is another unnecessary waste of celluloid to fill the vacuum where Christianity once shone as the theme.

The Happy Medium is a man clown who requires silly ritualistic behaviors to project the needed images – they have to "center" and stand on one foot with their eyes closed on teetering rocks over an abyss – no really this is what he tells them they have to do. I kept expecting him to say he was kidding.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. This movie is a waste of time at best and a destructive piece of brainless propaganda at worst. It's certainly a waste of money.

Go read the book to your kids instead.