As one of the most highly-acclaimed sci-fi novels in the literary world, “A Wrinkle in Time” has finally made it to the big screen and in a strong fashion.
The film follows Meg Murray (Storm Reid), a brilliant 13-year-old who journeys with her adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), love interest Calvin (Levi Miller) and three astral travelers across the universe to rescue her father (Chris Pine).
Unlike the previous TV adaptation released in 2003, the film does well to bring the original story to the screen in a faithful manner.
One of the highlights is how close in character personalities the film retains from its source material, namely heroine Meg’s insecurities. A major theme in the novel was the sense of conformity and Meg feeling her flaws kept her from being part of the status quo, and the film successfully brings all of her anxieties to the screen, including her distaste for her hair.
The film also expertly captures the thoroughly important theme of keeping the light alive in ourselves no matter the situation, lest we fall into darkness and become the worst versions of ourselves.
A key moment relating to this theme in the film comes during a speech from Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) telling of the evil spread of IT, a pure manifestation of darkness which serves as the film’s villain, throughout the universe. Audiences get a glimpse of IT’s control over people through Meg’s life, from her bully taking out her problems on others due to an insecurity about her weight to her principal feeling discontent with his job due to the jealousy he was receiving from his peers.
The combination of the montage of these characters facing the darkness and Mrs. Which’s plea to the three heroes to keep the light alive is one of the most powerful moments in the film.
The sight of these characters’ anxieties amplified due to the evil and their inability to do anything about it is truly a powerful sight, especially while people may feel we currently live in a society filled with darkness. The easy connection general audiences can make to these characters in this moment makes it’s hard to fight back tears.
Although the themes and plot points carry over almost completely faithfully from the source material, it carries it over a little too well for its 109-minute runtime. The opening act of the film moves far too quickly in getting the young heroes embarking on their journey which, though faithful to the book, is very jarring to see develop on the big screen.
Audiences get very little time to learn about these characters and watch them grow due to the rushed nature of the film, with a few scenes from the trailer clearly being left on the cutting room floor.
Because the writing has the lead heroes teaming up together and learning of the three Mrs.’ so quickly, the early character development remains flawed and fairly cliched. The themes of grief and subsequent social outcast that Meg and Charles Wallace experience as they refuse to give up hope for their father’s fate has been portrayed time and again on screen.
This familiarity is saved, however, by both the performances of the stellar ensemble cast as well as the magnetic direction from Ava DuVernay who previously directed “Selma.” 14-year-old Reid has been slowly blazing her way on screen since her debut in “12 Years a Slave,” and she absolutely shines in the lead role of Meg, delivering all the warmth, doubt and strength that her character demands.
Another highlight performance can be found in the young McCabe, who delivers one of the most charming and electric performances as the intelligent and witty Charles Wallace. Despite only having appeared in one other film, the 9-year-old Filipino actor not only rounds out a thoroughly diverse cast, but does so with bravura.
DuVernay’s direction and the visual effects to accompany it are absolutely incredible, bringing the complicated and fascinating worlds from the novel brilliantly to life. The most incredible sight was Meg’s journey through the brightly-lit doorway between worlds know as “tesser” carrying her from planet to planet, as the silk-like nature of the tesser is a marvel to witness.
Though the film moved too fast in moments, the theme of keeping love and hope alive in the world, the stellar visual effects and powerful performances from its cast carry “A Wrinkle in Time” over its flaws to make for a thrilling and heartwarming adaptation.