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In 2003, Disney made a TV film based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve never seen it before, but I can only imagine that it was super good that Disney decided to make a theatrical film of it now? Or maybe it was super bad that Disney decided to rectify their mistakes with a theatrical version?
Whatever the case, the theatrical film was announced and Ava DuVernay was hired to direct the film. She ended up breaking barriers by becoming the first African-American woman to direct a film that earned at least $100 million domestically. This was also the first live-action film with a nine-digit budget directed by a woman of color. Do these achievements prove the superiority of the film? Or were these achievements the only…achievements? Let’s find out as we review A Wrinkle in Time!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film introduces us to our protagonist, Meg Murry, a biracial middle-schooler, played by Storm Reid. She has an interest in the sciences, possibly influenced by the fact that both her parents are scientists (astrophysicists, to be precise, I think). Her father is Dr. Alexander Murry, played by Chris Pine, and her mother is Dr. Kate Murry, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
However, Meg is oftentimes sad, confused, apathetic, and feeling a whole myriad of emotions as her father disappeared about four years ago. She never found out if he just got up and left the family or disappeared or what. So now, it’s just her, her mother, and her adopted younger brother, Charles Murry, played by Deric McCabe.
Her story is known by everyone, even by the teachers at her school and thereabouts. One day after being bullied by a girl, Meg throws the ball into the bully girl’s face. This gets her sent to the principal’s office and later that night at home, Dr. Kate tells Meg that she wants her to write an apology letter to both the principal and the girl she hit.
Before that goes anywhere though, their house receives a strange visitor!
No, actually she’s Mrs. Whatsit.
Mrs. Whatsit, played by Reese Witherspoon, seems to know everyone in the house and seems to be friendly with Charles. As Dr. Kate tries to get this strange visitor to leave the house, Mrs. Whatsit tells Dr. Kate how her husband was right about tesseracts.
You see, Dr. Alexander (and Dr. Kate) believed that tesseracts were a way to travel through space using only your mind. All you needed to do was “tune into the right frequency” and voom you’re on your way to bending the space-time continuum. As you can imagine, the scientific community scoffed at this idea and the two doctors were ridiculed.
The next day, Charles (who somehow only gets a minor scolding for befriending a stranger so easily, and that too from Meg and NOT Dr. Kate), takes Meg to meet another kooky lady friend of his, Mrs. Who, played by Mindy Kaling. Not only is her dress unique, but her way of speaking is; She doesn’t speak her own words, rather she quotes others while crediting them along with their ethnicity.
Meg continues to tell Charles that all this random meetings with ladies has to stop, but she’s in for one more surprise. Later that day at her house, as she hangs out with a classmate friend of hers, Calvin, played by Levi Miller, both Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who arrive in her backyard. Not only that, but a third lady figure also appears, a much bigger figure, both in size and rank. This one is Mrs. Which, played by Oprah Winfrey.
She basically tells Meg how they’re three “warriors of the universe” who detected a call for help somewhere in the universe. Unable to figure out who sent it, they followed the destination of the call and realized it was Meg’s house. They then surmised that this call was sent by Dr. Alexander who is trapped somewhere in the universe after traveling via a tesseract. They then ask Meg, Charles, and even Calvin to come along with them to help find and rescue Dr. Alexander.
How do they travel through the universe, you may ask? Well they transport all the kids and themselves via the previously-mentioned tesseract, which turns out to be a sort of space-bending effect. After utilizing it, they’re transported to a far-off colorful planet filled with flowers. Mrs. Whatsit even transforms into a creature for the kids to fly upon as they explore this new world.
However, Meg and the others soon learn of a “planet of many faces” nearby called Camazotz
wherein resides an evil power known as “The IT”.
This evil is apparently spreading throughout the entire universe, so Meg and the others have to learn to use their love to combat the hate. This proves hard for Meg though.
After not finding Dr. Alexander on the colorful planet, the Mmes (which is the plural of “Mrs” apparently) then tesser with Meg and the others to a planet called Orion to consult The Happy Medium, played by Zach Galifianakis. He is a seer who should be able to tell them where Meg’s father is. After some meditation (which takes longer than it should no thanks to Meg), everyone learns that Meg’s father is trapped on the planet of Camazotz itself.
Unable to tesser to Camazotz as they can only tesser to places filled with light and not darkness, the Mmes tell Meg that they have to go back to Earth to make plans to find an effective way to rescue Dr. Alexander. Meg, upset that they’ve gone this far already, pleads with the Mmes to not go back and apparently her pleas are strong enough that it messes up their tesser and the kids are transported to Camazotz.
The Mmes manage to make the journey as well, but the evil is causing them to fade, so they must leave quickly. Before leaving, they give Meg three gifts to help her and the others find her father on this planet of many faces.
No, actually Mrs. Who gives Meg her glasses which will allow Meg to see whatever is “enfolded”. Mrs. Whatsit gives Meg the “gift of her faults” and Mrs. Which gives Meg the command for them all to stay together.
As soon as the Mmes leave, the planet starts to transform, firstly as a forest which attacks Meg and the others.
They must get over a wall to safety, so Meg comes up with the idea to hide in a tree trunk to be flung over the wall by the attacking forest itself.
They successfully make it over the wall and continue to search for Dr. Alexander. Along their journey they come across many strange things such as a neighborhood of “perfect” housewives and kids as well as a beach populated by beachgoers.
At the beach they come across an odd character named Red, played by Michael Peña, who claims to know Meg’s father. He starts to act odder though and soon takes Charlie and goes away. As Meg and Calvin chase them, the beach transforms into an empty room with white bubbly textured walls.
Here Red is shown to just be a robotic puppet of the IT. Charlie, on the other hand, has now become affected by the IT and becomes hilariously antagonistic towards both Meg and Calvin.
Meg decides to use the glasses she got from Mrs. Who and discovers an invisible staircase leading up. She starts to ascend the staircase being careful not to miss the invisible steps.
After climbing all the way up (without the IT as Charlie stopping her for some reason), she comes across a passageway wherein she finds Dr. Alexander. The two are incredibly overjoyed to see each other, as you can imagine! Meg realizes that Dr. Alexander never left on purpose, but rather couldn’t come back as there was no light on this planet for him to tesser with. But now that Meg and the others are here, he has just enough light to create a tesser to send them all home. However, Charlie prevents Meg from going right before the tesser activates so only Dr. Alexander and Calvin tesser home.
Now that Meg is alone with Charlie, the IT reveals its true voice which is the voice of David Oyelowo. The room transforms into a dark brainy-like place with bulbous nerve endings. As the IT as Charlie tries to break down Meg, Meg recognizes her faults and tells Charlie how she loves him. Somehow her love is strong enough to destroy the IT and release Charlie from its control on him.
Meg and Charlie then tesser back home to Earth reuniting with Dr. Alexander and Calvin. Dr. Alexander reunites with Dr. Kate and you can just imagine how many questions she has to ask him after the movie ends. And Meg thanks the Mmes for helping her rescue her father.
And that was A Wrinkle in Time. What in the world did I just watch?!
The film has an incredibly convoluted plot with an unclear message. Is the film about love triumphing hate? Is it about loving yourself? Is it about girl power? Is it a film filled with morals or just a silly little venture? I really have no idea!
Sometimes the film is odd and hilarious; other times the film is odd and just plain bad! The effects were honestly disappointing for a film like this! And the acting? I’ll give Deric McCabe some points for being an enjoyably bad “villain” at the end of the film and Reese Witherspoon wasn’t all that bad. But besides that, there isn’t much more to praise. Storm Reid tried, but didn’t convince me with her acting. Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, and Mindy Kaling were ok at best. Oprah Winfrey and Zach Galifianakis seemed to play themselves. And man, was Levi Miller bland!
I’m honestly really disappointed in this film and now want to see what the heck the 2003 film is like! It’s got to be better than this, right?
So, the final score for this film is 16/35 = 45.71% (F) !
The next review will be posted on October 16, 2018.