‘A Wrinkle in Time’ will mesmerize children, but leave adults confused (review)

“What if we are part of something truly divine.”

In an era where monsters are no longer solely on the silver screen, or in our televisions, now more than ever is it imperative to be positive. Not just positive in how we talk and react to each other, but in our forms of creative outlets: writing, composing, and, yes, even filmmaking. Building each other up, and creating an atmosphere where people can grow is so necessary in this day and age. That’s why in an industry so dedicated to one-upping each other, it’s so refreshing to finally see an outpour of powerful films being made and released.

One of those profound directors that has taken it upon herself to be a world-changer is Ava DuVernay. The woman who moved us deeply with 2014 film, Selma, and her powerful 2016 exposé on the thirteenth amendment on Netflix aptly called 13th, has been given charge over a project that digs deep into the nostalgia of elementary required reading: A Wrinkle in Time. The story, originally written by Madeleine L’Engle, was one that has been a part of many our childhoods, and now, it has come to life through the magic of Disney and the genius of Ava DuVernay.

The film follows the tale of Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her little brother, Charles Wallace ( Deric McCabe), as they have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry (Chris Pine), for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit ( Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.

A Wrinkle in Time boasts a beautiful and eclectic cast of performers, all the way from Mindy Kaling to Oprah Winfrey. The women in this film were so impressive, and the main focus in just about every scene! If ever there was a Disney film that exercised women empowerment, it would be this one. Of course Oprah, Mindy and Reese were wonderful, but the real star of the film was Storm Reid. Her ability and range of emotions in this role really stole the show, giving gravitas to the fact that the younger generation are raising up some incredible performers. But not all films can be based off of its performers; sometimes they have a source material they pull from. This is where things get a bit sticky…

When it comes to most films that are based on novels or strong source materials, they tend to be scrutinized a bit harder for its ability to mirror. This was very apparent for films such as the Hunger Games trilogy, 2013’s Ender’s Game, or the dreaded 2012 John Carter. Only one of these franchises actually had a fighting chance, solely based on how much it likened to the source material in the key parts. Sadly, the other two never got further than their intro film. So when it comes to A Wrinkle in Time, where does it stack up? Sadly, not very high, unfortunately.

Although the film is aesthetically pleasing, utilizing all the tools that Disney has at their disposal, the film’s story is the one that suffers the most. The story, albeit simplistic in theory, takes several twists and turns that cause the plot to become muddled. You understand that the focus of the film is that Meg is trying to find her father at the other end of the galaxy. The film, however, takes a very long scenic route before it gets to each plot point, relishing in the splendor and beauty of the CG work. This gets monotonous rather quickly, and unfortunately causes you to suffer through what should be incredible moments of art and creativity. When it comes to wanting to show off the beauty of your film, make sure to tie it in a bit closer to your overall story.

The film did have a few high points, such as the unique collection of music it used as a soundtrack. Each song was interesting yet beautiful, matching perfectly to the nature of the different parts of the universe the children travel to. As unique as the casting was, it seemed that a similar approach was taken with the selection of artists for the soundtrack, as it includes individuals such as DJ Khaled, Sia, and even Sade! Another high point were the several moments of empowerment this film held. And I’m not just talking about the obvious ones. It seems as though Ava placed unique signs or wall decorations to really emphasize that women are -and always have been- great! It was such a satisfying part of this film to recognize that there are children that will watch this, and remember these little moments after the film is over. And speaking of children…

One of the things I find myself doing, time after time, is seeing a movie for what it means to me, and only me. As a movie critic, this is usually the norm, as the only person I am concerned about liking the film is me. But in this case, there’s a broader goal at work here; in this case, I can definitely say that A Wrinkle in Time is not meant for 30-year-old me: it’s meant for 10-year-old me. The one who used to create comics in his room with markers and school paper. The kid who used to love science and watching his father make model rockets to fly. The child who loved to read long books, and write stories and poems. This film is for that child, and many like him: wide-eyed and ready to see the wonder and beauty of the world around them. I think at some point, as we grow up, we tend to forget what that looks like, and take life at face value, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But at some point in our lives, we forget to keep doing something so vital to our very existence: we forget to dream.

This film is made for to continue to stoke the fire in the children that are dreamers, and to remind us of the dreamers we used to be. It isn’t perfect, by any means, but A Wrinkle in Time is the type of film that I’d gladly show any child wanting to see what using your imagination looks like. And I mean, let’s be honest: when our parents saw 1984’s The NeverEnding Story, or 1982’s The Dark Crystal, or even 1989’s Little Monsters, I’m pretty sure they were just as confused as I was leaving the theater. But it wasn’t because those movies were meant for them; they were meant for me. Likewise, as confused as you may or may not be when leaving the theater, remember one thing: this film isn’t meant for the grown-up in you. It’s meant for the kid at heart in all of us, ready to see and explore the vast edges of this rich and wonderful universe.

Rating: 2.5/5 Atoms

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