The new Disney adaptation, A Wrinkle in Time, tells the unique story of an intelligent young girl and her quest to find her missing father. Adapted from the 1962 Madeleine L'Engle novel, the movie focuses on the heroine’s inter-dimensional journey.
Storm Reid stars as Meg, a self-conscious young woman. Her father disappeared four years ago and she’s been struggling with his absence since. No one seems to understand her, including her prodigious younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Something strange occurs one day when three supernatural beings arrive. Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) insist that Meg’s father (Chris Pine) is still alive.
These beings send Meg, Charles Wallace and Meg’s classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) on a journey through space and time.
Director Ava DuVernay truly brings L’Engle’s magical world alive in this film. The Selma director clearly had a beautiful vision for this story and brings that vision to life gorgeously especially in some of the movie’s earliest sequences. From flowers coming to life (“Everyone knows that flowers are the best gossipers in the entire universe,” Mrs. Whatsit says) to a powerful journey through the clouds, DuVernay truly brings her singular vision to this beloved property.
There are, however, a few special effects-laden sequences that don’t work. One features a visit to a cave inhabited by a unique being named Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis). The visuals in this scene look lifted from a video game and don’t really work well on the big screen.
The story’s overall journey gives Meg a chance to re-evaluate her self-worth and there are several sequences that really drive that concept home. However, in a movie like this, it’s the smaller moments that truly make this idea emerge. There are plenty of individuals here that verbally urge Meg to see beyond her own insecurities but it’s the more important character choices here that really show Meg how special she truly is.
When Calvin tells Meg how great she is, the dialogue is obvious and unsubtle. However, when Calvin trusts her judgment during an emergency situation, it really shows how much he trusts her and appreciates her intelligence.
Additionally, some elements of the third act really don’t work with the preceding story. Early on in the film, Charles Wallace is presented as a young genius who seemingly knows everything about the journey ahead. He trusts Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who long before his travel companions. He knows when the quest is about to begin long before Meg realizes it.
However, in the third act, there’s a little twist pitting him in a compromising position. It seems that the story is trying to imply that despite his brilliance, he’s still a young kid but the character’s presentation during the first act doesn’t work well with the character’s naïve decisions in the third act.
Despite some reservations about the plot and disappointment in some of the visual effects, it’s hard not to be impressed with this new film. Storm Reid does a strong job in the main role and Oprah’s supporting performance stands out as she offers comfort and guidance to her audiences (some would say Oprah is perfectly cast here). The most memorable element of this story are the visuals though with DuVernay truly proving how talented of a visual artist she is.
A Wrinkle in Time, which has a few darker elements, offers a noteworthy message and some great visual effects in spite of the film’s flaws.
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