By Dustin Steinhoff, Staff Writer
“A Wrinkle in Time” is an entertaining film, one with great themes and a ton of imagination to offer, but tends to falter with its pacing and structure.
“A Wrinkle in Time” is directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine. It is based on the novel of the same name, written by Madeleine L’Engle. The story revolves around Meg, a young girl with a love for science who became an outcast to her schoolmates when her father suddenly disappeared. Meg and her genius and compassionate younger brother Charles go on a journey across space with the help of Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit to save their father.
The biggest problem with “A Wrinkle in Time” is that those involved in making it tried so hard to be faithful to the book by including as much as material as they could, but ultimately ended up hurting the film by doing so. By trying to cram in so many plot points, settings, and characters, the film felt overstuffed yet at the same time never fully fleshes out each situation the characters find themselves in during its runtime of 109 minutes. Even the film adaptation of “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which had a runtime of almost three hours, had to omit a number of characters and events to make the plot more fluid and its central characters more dynamic (sorry, Tom Bombadil and the Old Forest Fans).
One of my main problems with the book became much more evident when it was translated to the big screen: the character Calvin. Calvin is Meg’s love interest who joins Meg and Charles on their journey to save their father. Calvin has no motives for going on this trip, having never met their father and having only talked to Meg and Charles a handful of times. Calvin explains he “had a feeling he should be here” when he first approached Meg, which comes off as hokey and awkward. What makes matters worse is that by devoting valuable screen time to trying to flesh out Meg and Calvin’s relationship when there is no payoff, there were less scenes devoted to Meg and Charles interacting. Because of this, the films climax revolving around Meg and Charles’ relationship does not pack as much of a punch as it could have.
One aspect “A Wrinkle in Time” gets right is its visuals. The film is popping with bright colors and beautiful, imaginative recreations of locales taken from the book. The bland, unsettling nature of Camazotz is also well executed – though we only get a few minutes to see what it has to offer.
For the most part, the actors and actresses were cast very well. The stand-out performance comes from Reid, the fifteen year-old actress portraying Meg. Reid gives such an emotionally vulnerable performance, capturing all the things that make Meg such a great character. The performance is made even more impressive by her young age.
There were a few really well-done scenes that really stuck with me after leaving the theater. In one scene, Meg was given a vision of what IT does to people, showing how negative thoughts and desires affected people she knows, such as her bully, teachers, and minor characters that were suddenly given much more depth. The climax where Meg realizes her dad cannot fix all her problems and is taken into the heart of the IT (a dark, mysterious force acting as the film’s antagonist) is an emotional and exciting point for Meg’s journey that really stands out.
Meg is undoubtedly the heart of the movie and her journey is what makes “A Wrinkle in Time” worth the watch. She starts out as a misunderstood, bullied girl with low self-esteem whose dad left her, her mom, and her brother without explanation. She starts her journey full of self-doubt in hopes that she can find her dad. Meg’s battle against her own doubt (her own “IT”) is what drives this movie and is a joy to watch, despite the movies shortcomings