Review: A Wrinkle in Time

Ava DuVernay is best known for bringing non-fictional stories to the big screen (13th, Selma). This time, Ava brings Madeline L’Engle’s novel, A Wrinkle in Time, to life.

The story follows Meg (Storm Reid), a young girl dealing with mysterious disappearance of her father (played by Chris Pine).  One day, her younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) introduces Meg to astral travelers known as The Mrs.  – Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling).

Meg is told by The Mrs. that her father is still alive and has traveled across the universe. Meg, along with Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller), travels across the universe to new planets in search of her father. Meg learns of an evil spreading across the universe known as IT – no, not Pennywise the dancing clown.

While searching for Meg’s father, the three kids must avoid IT and all the temptations that will be thrown at them.

A Wrinkle in Time could’ve easily been a PG-13 space fantasy that appeals to all ages; instead it’s a PG movie specifically for kids. It’s 1000000% a kid’s movie. Years of PIXAR films and PG-13 movies masquerading as PG has made audiences forget there are movies geared towards kids –  A Wrinkle in Time serves children (and fans of the book) and nobody else.

Ava and her team use this story to deal with heavy themes like abandonment, bullying, depression, self esteem, and abuse. That’s A LOT to pack into a kid’s movie and Storm Reid does a great job of embodying most of it and working through those obstacles during Meg’s journey. The story does a good job of unpacking a lot of Meg’s issues and discussing how important it is to find “light”.

The star of the film is Meg’s little brother Charles Wallace, played by Deric McCabe. Storm Reid is the face of the film, but McCabe steals the show. He’s absolutely incredible. With Meg confused while on a journey of self discovery, McCabe is allowed to have all the fun – he’s the opposite of Meg and it’s a perfect fit. McCabe brings enthusiasm and humor to every scene while having a great chemistry with Reid. His ability to show so many emotions for such a young actor is impressive. The kid has a bright future and will hopefully be on the screen again soon.

The visual effects are exceptional. The planets, bizarre characters, and space travel are very reminiscent of Doctor Who. The visuals look like fever dream mixed with a futuristic nature show. As beautiful as the planets are, the film doesn’t spend a lot of time on any of them.

There are two main criticisms of the film: 1) the science and how “tessaring” works isn’t explained. 2) Calvin staring at Meg gets a little uncomfortable.

There’s science and then there’s movie science. Science has to work in the real world while movie science only has to work in the world the film created. Tony Stark’s arc reactor may not work in the real world but in the film it keeps the metal from going to his heart and it powers his suit. Jurassic Park is a world where people can make dinosaurs form DNA. A Wrinkle in Time doesn’t do a good job of explaining tessaring and how exactly her father traveled through space. Things sort of just happen without explanation and it takes away from the weight of climactic scene with Meg.

Calvin is a necessary character in these types of films, there’s a reason why he’s tagging along for this journey. However, watching him give Meg dreamy eyes for two hours was a tad bit uncomfortable. Calvin fits into the story but his interactions with Meg feel like they belong in a teen romantic comedy.

A Wrinkle in Time is a fun sci-fi fantasy that isn’t for everyone. It’s a kid’s movie led by kids and it addresses issues children go through. The story challenges you to be a kid while watching it. Ava did a good job capturing the magic of kid’s movies like A Never Ending Story and The Explorers with a modern arc. The themes of love and self discovery are present and speak to kid that lives inside everyone.

Grade: B-