I came out of A Wrinkle in Time conflicted about what I just saw. It wasn’t because it was a bad movie nor because it was over-hyped. In an era where there aren’t many kids’ movies that can ‘fill in’ for the Harry Potter series, this was another movie that reached for the stars and in some ways fell short. Maybe it feels this way if you are an adult. The issue in trying to decide how to approach this movie is that I am watching through adult eyes and trying to keep a child’s open mind in the approach on how much I liked it.
The plot revolves around Meg Murry (played brilliantly by Storm Reid), a child who is attempting to cope with the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine) who was experimenting with inter-dimensional travel. Meg is a teen whose grades are slipping, she is teased by bullies, and she lashes out because of it. Her precocious adopted brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) is the only bright spot that she has. Through Charles Wallace’s interactions with 3 astral travelers, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. (not Doctor!) Who, and Mrs. Which, the two kids are taken on an adventure with their classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) to try and save their father from The It.
There are many underlying themes in this movie such as “Good versus Evil”, self-reliance, conformity, and truth. Part of what makes movies like this a bit problematic when being adapted from books, is that some of the themes don’t get fully explored enough, and even though I haven’t read the book, I could feel that certain concepts were glossed over. Another issue that arises once the movie starts to find its stride, is that the film feels like it ends before it really has a chance to let viewers digest what’s being presented. This is probably it’s biggest flaw in that there is so much to explore and explain but with the constraints of time, the last 30 to 45 minutes feels rushed to get to the end of its two hour run time.
The visuals of the film were hit-or-miss as well, because there were points where it seemed like the ‘fantastical worlds’ weren’t all that fantastical. The CGI was good and not too overblown, but I felt like more thought could have been put into some of the worlds shown in this movie. Some of the locations such as Orion’s Belt (home to the Happy Medium) was stunning, but the opening world where we find Oprah Winfrey’s Mrs. Which was a been there, done that affair.
On a brighter note, the costume design was amazing – especially for Mrs. Which and Mindy Kaling’s Mrs. Who. I am sure some of these costumes may present a challenge for cosplayers, and in true “Hold my beer” fashion, some will take on the challenge eventually bringing forth some costumes that will shine.
Also the character interactions and dynamics were good. It was great seeing a diverse cast of mainly women leads breathing life into this movie even at the cost of sacrificing a few characters from the book. I really applauded Storm Reid’s performance as Meg. She gave Meg a lot of depth in being a teen who is suffering through loss and lack of hope. Equally good was Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace. While I really liked his performance, there is still so much that we don’t know about his character and I feel as if I know even less about him as the film closes. He is a prodigy who is wise beyond his years and is the catalyst for Meg’s adventure but there is still so much more I wanted to know about him. Of course there is Oprah Winfrey channeling her inner Yoda as Mrs. Which but it’s almost to the point that she almost practically hands Meg the answers in what her purpose is.
As I digested this movie, I came to the realization that this movie isn’t meant for me but for the children that are watching it. My biggest issue is that my adult logic clouds the part of me that wanted to like this film, because it was just so underwhelming and in some places, lifeless. They are seeing a 56 year old book fully realized onscreen. It may sound lofty, but my inner child wants to believe that this movie may be a spark to today’s kids that all is not hopeless. It may mean something in almost the same way that The Wizard of Oz did for children all of those long generations ago when the world seemed like it was on the precipice of darkness. When all seems lost, if you believe in yourself and your friends, you can accomplish so much. All in all, this was a movie that I thought would’ve given me what I was hoping for with Tomorrowland, with the promises of a good adventure, but A Wrinkle in Time also misses the mark.
2.75 Tesseracts out of 5