Critics Consensus

A Wrinkle in Time Lacks Magic

Plus, Gringo and The Strangers: Prey at Night don't offer many laughs or scares, and season 2 of Jessica Jones is Certified Fresh.

by | March 8, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have the Oprah tesseract club (A Wrinkle in Time, starring Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling), a Mexican misadventure for David Oyelowo (Gringo, co-starring Charlize Theron), one very bad night at the trailer park (The Strangers: Prey at Night, starring Bailee Madison and Christina Hendricks), and some bank robbers who’ve been saving for a rainy day (The Hurricane Heist, starring Maggie Grace and Toby Kebbell). What are the critics saying?

A Wrinkle in Time (2018) 42%

Incredible advancements in special effects technology over the last few decades have altered the filmmaking landscape in any number of ways — one of which is that there’s arguably no longer any such thing as an “unfilmable book.” If you can imagine it, you can depict it realistically onscreen, and our latest example is this weekend’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Helmed by acclaimed Selma director Ava DuVernay and featuring an all-star cast that includes Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, this production brings cutting-edge visual effects technology to bear on Madeleine L’Engle’s classic story about a teenage girl (Storm Reid) who embarks on a mind-bending interstellar quest to save her father (Chris Pine) from a powerful evil. Critics say all that effort can definitely be seen in the cinematic world DuVernay has shaped out of L’Engle’s book — unfortunately, they also say the movie doesn’t quite stick the landing when it comes to satisfactorily exploring the text’s complex themes. The end result is a movie that’s certainly beautiful and easy to admire, but one that may leave fans of the source material wanting more — and newcomers wondering what all the fuss is about.

Gringo (2018) 40%

Distilling medical marijuana into easily dispensable pill form sounds like a pharmaceutical breakthrough worth celebrating — at least as long as you aren’t a member of a cartel whose livelihood depends on the illegal drug trade. Gringo explores this idea with an action-comedy about a pharmaceutical rep (David Oyelowo) who’s sent to Mexico in order to supervise the manufacturing of just such a pill, only to discover that his company — and, by extension, he — is the target of ticked-off gangsters who intend to shut the whole thing down by any means necessary. Fortunately, Oyelowo has a fixer (Sharlto Copley) working to get him out of his mess, but things seem likely to get hilariously worse before they get better. Actually, scratch that “hilarious” part: critics say Gringo ranks among the less satisfying comedies in recent memory, hampered by a disjointed plot, poorly conceived characters, and an overall aesthetic so indebted to classic Tarantino that not even the combined efforts of Oyelowo, Copley, Thandie Newton, and Charlize Theron are enough to keep audiences distracted. If you’re really in the mood for a dark, violent comedy and stuck for options, Gringo looks like it might be worth a stream, but if you were thinking about seeing it in theaters, these reviews aren’t encouraging.

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) 40%

In the movies, things generally tend to happen for a reason — particularly in the horror genre, in which death and violence are meted out as the consequence of hurtful or immoral behavior. With 2008’s The Strangers, writer-director Bryan Bertino offered a chillingly subversive exception, telling the story of a couple terrorized and tormented by a sadistic masked trio simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; more than $80 million later, the bad guys are back for another round of mayhem in The Strangers: Prey at Night. Co-written by Bertino, this installment sees “Dollface,” “Man in the Mask,” and “Pin-Up Girl” descend upon a deserted trailer park where an unsuspecting family is expecting to stay with relatives… but just might wind up dead. That’s all decent enough as the setup for a Strangers sequel goes; unfortunately, critics say Prey at Night fumbles the execution in pretty much every other respect, from its attempts to land ironic laughs to the stereotypically boneheaded behavior of its protagonists. Horror has entered something of a renaissance period since the original Strangers was released, and genre fans don’t need to settle for less; unless you’re really dying to see this homicidal trio back in action, you probably have plenty of superior options this weekend.

The Hurricane Heist (2018) 47%

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as a well-made heist movie, and Hollywood disaster epics have been turning human misery into preposterously entertaining cinema for ages. Put ’em both together, and you’ve got The Hurricane Heist, in which a pack of bandits plan to use a massive storm to provide cover while they rob a United States Mint facility. Naturally, things go awry, and one Treasury agent (Maggie Grace) ends up fighting for her life in the aftermath — alongside a meteorologist (Toby Kebbell) with a uniquely personal stake in the drama. So how does this mashup come together on the big screen? We can’t tell you for sure just yet: as of this writing, The Hurricane Heist only has a single review, so we’ll all just have to wait and see what the other critics have to say. In the meantime, how about a wet and wild round of Guess the Tomatometer?

What’s New on TV

Marvel's Jessica Jones: Season 2 (2018) 82%

While Jessica Jones is a slower burn with less focus than its inaugural season, its enticing new character arc more fully details the most charismatic Defender.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

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