MOVIE REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time

written by David Steffen

A Wrinkle in Time is a 2018 science fiction action/adventure YA movie, directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Walt Disney, based on the 1962 book of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle (which I reviewed here).

The main protagonist of the movie is Meg Murray (Storm Reid), a teenage girl whose scientist father (Chris Pine) disappeared mysteriously five years ago.  She lives with her scientist mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and very intelligent but peculiar five-year-old brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe).  Charles Wallace befriends a strange woman in the neighborhood who calls herself Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who tells Charles Wallace and Meg that their father discovered the secret of using “tesseracts” to travel long distances but is now trapped on a dark planet called Camazotz by a powerful adversary known only as the IT (David Oyelowo) and that only they can save him.  Meg’s friend Calvin (Levi Miller) joins them and they meet Mrs. Whatsit’s friends, Mrs. Which (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Who (Oprah Winfrey), and together they “tesser” away from Earth to find Meg’s father.

For the most part the story of the movie follows the story of the book, though it did take liberties with certain parts.  I felt like it kept to most of the same beats thematically, with major plot points about love and about Meg’s low self-esteem.  There were some major changes, some of which I was less impressed with–instead of turning into flying centaurs Mrs. Whatsit turns into what appears to be an anthropomorphic lettuce leaf (but why though?), and Camazotz felt a lot different in the movie than the book, instead of being a rigorously defined world that runs like clockwork it was an ever-changing simulation.

Overall I thought the movie was good, the casting was spectacular, especially Storm Reid as Meg who was very likeable and believable at least for me, a lot of her personal hangups mapped pretty easily to mine.  Charles Wallace seemed like his character would be particularly hard to cast because the actor has to at least appear to be close to five years old, but has to be able to pull off complicated lines with big vocabulary, and McCabe did a great job with it.  Oprah Winfrey is such a super-celebrity at this point, that for a lot of roles she might’ve overshadowed the other characters, but she was a perfect choice for Mrs. Who who is far enough distanced from humanity as a whole that she has to be reminded that being three stories tall makes her stand out.  There are a lot of wonderful visual scenes and sets and characters that were fun for all ages, and might be especially awesome for children–there are some parts that are borderline scary if your young ones are sensitive to that you might want to watch the movie without them first to know what they’ll be up against.