Fresh off her success from the Oscar-nominated 2014 film Selma, director Ava DuVernay brings the world of A Wrinkle in Time to the big screen for a live-action adaptation of the beloved 1962 novel written by Madeleine L’Engle. This is not, however, the first live-action film adaptation of the novel; in 2003 there was also an adaptation of the same name.
For a lot of directors and filmmakers, it would be undoubtedly a difficult task to adapt a well known and cherished book to the big screen with a large budget, distributed by Disney. You have to do certain things right, because the die-hard fans of the source material are wanting to see their cherished story brought to life. A lot of people will see this film as it is a Disney film with an extremely talented cast that includes the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Storm Reid, and Mindy Kaling to name a few.
I had a strange experience after watching A Wrinkle in Time. From the bottom of my heart, I genuinely feel like this motion picture has an extreme amount of absolutely terrific elements in it. For example, the entire story of the film, which we will delve into, spoiler-free, in a short while, I found riveting. But, on the other hand, I also feel like there is some truly atrocious elements to A Wrinkle in Time as well. This kind of experience almost never happens to me, because usually when I see a film, I know after watching it what my feelings about it are right away. I had to wait a full day to think about all the elements that transpired in the film. I did not want to approach a review if my head was still full of thoughts on the film that I was not completely sure of yet. But, now, I am finally able to discuss my thoughts.
A young girl named Meg Murry (Storm Reid) has lost her father Alex (Chris Pine) four years ago at the start of the film. Alex was an extremely skilled and smart man who had an abundance of extraordinary ideas and theories that he wanted to test out. His biggest one being his philosophy that there is a way for humans to travel millions of light years away in a matter of seconds. Travel across the entire universe. It was due to these experiments and testings that resulted in the disappearance of Alex. This has obviously also affected Meg’s life drastically, as well. She also has to deal with a bully, Veronica (Rowan Blanchard) who tells Meg that she hopes she disappears as well. Meg is a girl who is determined to find her father, and is full of hope that he is still alive, and out there in the universe somewhere.
One day, a mysterious woman called Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) appears in the Murry family home, and has a conversation with Charles Wallace Murry (Deric McCabe), Meg, and her mother Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Mrs. Whatsit explains that she can help Meg and her brother Charles Wallace find their father again, much to the excitement of the family, even if they are skeptical. From there, Meg and Charles Wallace meet Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and all three of them alongside Meg’s best friend Calvin (Levi Miller) go on an intergalactic journey to bring back Meg and Charles Wallace’s dad back to Earth and live a happy life.
As I aforementioned briefly at the start of this review, that story of Meg and Charles Wallace attempting to find their lost father was extremely intriguing to me from start to finish. There was not a single second in A Wrinkle in Time where I was not rooting for Meg and Charles Wallace. You can honestly see and feel the emotion present in the characters of Meg and Charles Wallace. Most notably for the character of Meg, however, who is portrayed by Reid. For the majority of the film, Reid is great as Meg. You can feel so much sympathy for her. But there are a few times when she does not show too much surprise on her face, where most kids that age would be surprised at seeing certain things unfold in front of their very own eyes. McCabe is only okay as Charles Wallace, however, for the film’s first and second act. Unfortunately, he drastically falters with his acting ability in the third act, and came across almost as if he were reading a script in front of him. Some of his acting was dull. Even thought the story was captivating, it was incredibly rushed, however. It felt like the filmmakers were trying to move the motion picture along faster as the film progressed, for some reason, and it ended up hurting the film’s pacing tremendously.
Additionally, the three characters of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which were all also great, portrayed by Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey, respectively. The real standout among the three, is Winfrey though. She has a true sense of energy seeping off her, and whenever she was on screen with Reid, it was pure magic.
In a high budget Disney live-action film, beautiful cinematography and CGI are to expect and that is exactly what we get in A Wrinkle in Time. Virtually every single shot in the film looked terrific shot by Tobias A. Schliessler. What is also great, is that the CGI for the majority of the film, looks good as well. It is just that in the third act, things start to look obviously rendered and it does take you out of the film experience for a brief moment or two.
Also in A Wrinkle in Time is the character of The Happy Medium, played by Zach Galifianakis. His character is easily the weakest of the entire film, unfortunately. He is given practically nothing to do in the film, and only appears for about five minutes, and we never see him again in the film, for some strange reason. The scene that he was in was crucial, and if he was not in that scene, it would not have had the impact that it did, but it would have been nice to see his character do more throughout the film, instead of appearing for only one scene to do something important and then never see him again.
Ava Duvernay’s film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time has an amazing story with great characters and beautiful cinematography. However, due to its jumbled storytelling and pacing, occasional dull acting, and underused characters, this film is more disappointing than anything.
Overall Grade: C
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and some peril
Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Running Time: 109 minutes