A Wrinkle in Time review
A Wrinkle in Time is one of those books that a lot of kids are aware of. I myself have heard about the book since the sixth grade, and from I understand, is a very popular read for a lot of girls. Before the new movie adaptation came out, I took the liberty of listening to an audiobook version. I can understand why as it focuses on a social outcast who gains a great deal of confidence through her journey within the universe. While I can't say that it's the masterpiece that a lot of people have said it is, it's still a good read for children and would even hope that classrooms use this a part of the English curriculum.
I think what kids liked about the book was its use of science and mathematics in conjunction with the more fantasy elements of it. It plays out a bit like a smarter Disney story. It seems fitting that Disney would acquire the rights to make a film version of the story. While it has a lot of cerebral moments, I could see this in the vein of Dark Crystal or Labyrinth; one of those edgier family films from the 1980s. Lets see how this new A Wrinkle in Time does.
Young Meg Murry (played by Storm Reid) is a brilliant, but depressed and aggressive middle schooler who is still trying to deal with that her father NASA scientist Dr. Alex Murry (played by Chris Pine) had gone missing four years earlier. She has only her younger brother and prodigy Charles Wallace (played by Deric McCabe) and mother Dr. Kate Murry (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). During an evening at home, their visited by the eccentric Mrs. Whatsit (played by Reese Witherspoon) who tells them that "tesseracting" is possible. This puts the family into a shock, but seem to leave it alone as a strange visit.
The next day, Meg, Charles-Wallace, and fellow friend Calvin (played by Levi Miller) once again encounter Mrs. Whatsit, this time along with the quoting Mrs. Who (played by Mindy Kaling) and godlike Mrs. Which (played by Oprah Winfrey). The three women reveal that their father is on a distant planet somewhere in the universe and is up to these three kids to "tesseract" with them to find them. They end up visiting several worlds and strange people including the Happy Medium (played by Zach Galifinakis) and the evil Red (played by Michael Peña).
This new version of A Wrinkle in Time tries to do a lot with it's short running time, but unfortunately makes me debate whether the book was that good to begin with. To begin with, this only follows the book loosely. It's the same plot of finding our character's father, but the encounters are different. That wouldn't matter if it helped the story, but many of the changes neither make sense or devalue what the book was better at.
To be fair, A Wrinkle in Time could have not been easy to adapt. It's clear that director Ava DuVernay (Selma) wants to transport her audience to new worlds. And to be honest, the visuals and art direction look stunning. In fact, I might have liked this movie more if it would have taken it's time to show us these worlds, and let the atmosphere tell the story. She's trying to do this, but each scene seems to flow at a quick pace, almost like their fast-forwarding to the next sequence. They'll show Meg getting in trouble…next. The kids go to a colorful world…next. Kids go to the evil world…next. Having a lack of focus might have benefited A Wrinkle in Time.
The story itself, aside from having major pacing issues, has such a convoluted execution, that it still feels dated. Without giving anything away, this is another movie where "love" is the answer. Think of it as a kid friendly version of Inception. While it's not that their trying to make it work, but perhaps this is something was simply better on paper.
The acting even suffers. Oprah is playing herself, Reese Witherspoon is in need of direction, and the boy who plays Charles Wallace is really bad. I'm not sure if it's the writing or the actor, but this kid only seems to be emulating a smart alec rather then a true prodigy. The only ones who does exceptional work is Storm Reid as Meg and Chris Pine.
I'll give this two copies of A Wrinkle in Time novels out of five. Sad to say that despite having a Disney-like story, this has no idea what it wants to be. It gets a lot of points for some neat visuals and style, but the story, the most essential thing to a movie, has the distinction of feeling pandering and confused. Perhaps children will see something else, but this is one book I'm keeping closed.