The 400-Word Review: A Wrinkle in Time
By Sean Collier
March 11, 2018
Disney’s big-screen adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time will likely be a pivotal work for the young girls who see it on the big screen. Those post-Millennial kids and young teenagers who encounter Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle novel will likely find it moving, affirming and encouraging — for this is not only a movie about a young girl finding her self-worth, it is a movie about the very concept of self-worth. It is a movie that teaches the inherent importance of each of us as distinct, flawed and powerful creatures.
It will be, I think, a success for the most important part of its demographic.
Unfortunately, it is not a good movie by traditional metrics, and I think it is bound to disappoint adults who grew up enraptured with the source material.
L’Engle’s quirky, difficult novel — a distant predecessor to the concept of young-adult fiction, yet infinitely more nuanced than many books affixed with that tag today — follows a trio of precocious (and disarmingly eloquent) children as they travel the universe in search of their lost father. It is not a story that folds neatly into a conventional structure and has thus bedeviled those who previously tried to adapt it.
The film stars Storm Reid as Meg, who is introduced to a trio of cosmic helpers (played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling) by her hyper-intelligent younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Their father (Chris Pine) happened upon the ability to travel through spacetime in an instant, but was trapped on an unfriendly planet under the control of a malevolent force called The It. (Not It — The It.)
A Wrinkle in Time is packed with daring, dazzling and uncanny choices, many of which work as intended. It is also an unfortunate pastiche of styles, with some modes (fantasy worldbuilding in the style of Avatar) that fit snugly and others (music-video style sequences set to pop songs from the likes of Demi Lovato and Chloe x Halle) missing the mark badly.
The runaway-train plotline and construction of A Wrinkle in Time ultimately proves too much for its creators, as a tenuous grip is maintained for the first two acts and then utterly lost as the film nears its conclusion. There are good reasons why no previous adaptation has worked. This effort is a undeniably imaginative, noble try — and an honest, halting failure.
My Rating: 5/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark