Based on the book by the same name, the 2018 movie was directed by Ava Duvernay, written by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The book, written by Madeleine L’Engle and published in 1962, is a classic in the eyes of many, while others criticize it for not being up to par with other books that are deemed classics. I have not read it, but I know it still holds a reputation as a fantastic novel for kids and teens. However, the movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was, to say the least, underwhelming.
In the movie, Meg (Storm Reid), the daughter of a scientist (Chris Pine) who goes missing, struggles with feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness on a day-to-day basis after her father’s disappearance. When her younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), begins to bring around three mysterious women who say they know about her father’s disappearance, Meg, her brother, and her friend, Calvin (Levi Miller), let the three women lead them on a journey through various worlds and universes in search of the scientist.
One of the movie’s biggest problems is the acting. Both Reid and McCabe are somewhat new to the acting scene, with only a few movies under their belts. Miller has been acting for seven years now but does nothing special in this movie, which is disappointing. Throughout the film, every character, with the exception of Meg, keeps a single tone and expression. While not utterly horrible, the acting ruins and devalues parts of the movie, leaving some impactful scenes feeling empty. For example, in one scene everyone goes to visit a friend of one of the three Misses. The characters are put in “peril” to get where they are going; they have to cross rocks that are balanced on spires. However, not once do any of the characters, except for Meg, seem terrified, or even cautious.
A second problem with the movie is the story and characters. While I have not read the book the movie is based on, the film’s storyline is generic and disjointed. The overall plot is coherent, but the problem lies with the movie’s portrayal of it. Scenes jump between each other with almost zero transition and little if any explanation. (Not to mention, these scenes have questionable value.) Upon the group’s arrival in Uriel, they mostly wander about instead of trying to find Meg’s father. Furthermore, most scenes feel as if they have little purpose. Only two scenes actually have a clear point and impact on the story: the scene in Orion where the characters meet the friend of the three Misses, and the beach scene where something surprising happens to Meg’s brother.
A third problem is the story, which seems weak and thin. The story’s main message is about positivity and love beating out negativity. There isn’t much more to it than that. Making matters worse is an egregious amount of plot holes and inconsistencies. The most glaring example is when the three Misses have to leave the children to their own devices halfway through the movie because they are almost out of power and can only take themselves back home, but then show up again at the end. Even the main focus of the movie is inconsistent, that being tessering, the ability to move through time and space. There are no rules on how it works. Without spoiling too much, Meg is supposedly able to tesser without having the correct frequency that is mentioned later. What makes this worse is that somehow she hijacks the Misses’ tessering and redirects the entire group away from earth while in a fit of anger. The story sets almost no rules and does whatever it wants, going back on what are supposed to be established points and creating new principles.
Even with bad acting, lack of cohesion, and poor storytelling, the movie does have moments and glimmers of a good tale. The cinematography and CGI (computer-generated imagery) range from decent to good. The panorama-like shots of Uriel and Orion, the first two worlds visited, are excellent and instill wonder, even though these worlds are never explored much. The uncanny valley neighborhood scene is eerie and creepy, putting you into the character’s shoes and leaving you uncomfortable and unnerved. Meg is also well-written and well-acted for a child actor. Her struggles are very relatable, as well, and can speak to a more modern generation. While underdeveloped, the movie’s message is still heartwarming and injects some positivity into viewers, especially given the rather negative world we live in.
A Wrinkle in Time was a less than excellent movie, especially given that the director, Ava Duvernay, has a decent track record, not to mention the movie was produced by Walt Disney Pictures. To sum up, A Wrinkle in Time is lacking in some areas and comes off as a mixed bag, but it’s not utterly garbage. I would say that it is a good movie to put on for children or families who just want something to pass the time, but will be disappointing for those who may have been fans of the book or want something with a good narrative.
My final verdict for the movie is a rating of 2.5 out of 5. If you want a movie that looks visually appealing, sparks the creative juices, or entertains the little ones, this isn’t a bad choice, but there are probably better choices as well. However, if you do want to experience the narrative about imagination and storytelling that was crafted by Madeleine L’Engle, you’d have a better time reading the book than watching the movie.
Destin Fryman grew up in Mount Olivet, Kentucky, a quiet rural town. He is 17 years old and will be a high school senior this fall. His hobbies include movies, games, art, and most other creative mediums.
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