Wrinkle in Time Review (2018): A Sci-Fi Fantasy for Children and Tweens

Wrinkle in Time Review (2018): A Sci-Fi Fantasy for Children and Tweens
courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

I found that this film was clearly made for children and tween audience with the impact of promoting diversity, while strengthening lost images of girls and children of color. There are some fantastical visual scenes in the film that were memorable and rewarding. I applaud the fact that Disney  was brave enough to take a chance on a story with a mostly female cast especially with a young black female lead heroine. It is important that diverse images of women are projected across the silver screen because these voices have been stifled for so long. This story makes good on life lessons addressing bullying, self-esteem, identity, and relationships. I do feel however that the story had some disconnection with the how and the why of certain events, which made me confused by a few things in the story. 'Wrinkle in Time' is a beloved children's novel written by  writer Madeleine L'Engle.

In the film, Dr. Alex Murray (Chris Pine) is an astrophysicist and Dr. Kate Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a microbiologist.  One believes in the small science theories and the other believes in big space science theories. The Murray's have a daughter named Meg (Storm Reid) and an adopted son Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe).  Dr. Alex Murray finds a 'Wrinkle in Time' or a gateway to other worlds through a transport called the Tesseracts. He is lost for over 4 years. Meg, the eldest child,  is unsure and angry because of her father's mysterious disappearance.  Meg acts out at school and explains that it is because of her circumstances. Eventually, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey)  make an appearance and introduction through Charles Wallace. He is very confident and trusting of these women. Charles Wallace leads the charge to go and find their father with the help of the new unexpected, other-worldly guests and Meg's invited friend Calvin (Levi Miller). Meg finally agrees to go along after much coaxing and prodding.  Charles Wallace sees Calvin as a much needed conduit of diplomacy for their dangerous adventure. The challenge is to find their father and see if he is still alive. The journey will test them and play on their biggest fears, especially Meg will have to be the strongest. I found this to be a great adventure for a special audience like elementary school students and and middle school students. This story also ties in to promoting STEM learning, as Meg was able to remember scientific theories that her father taught her when they were together.

The cinematography was visually stunning, along with colorful make-up, and  brightly colored costumes to help to create an elaborate whimsical ride. However, some scenes needed better explanation causing some confusion with missing parts of story. For example: Why did Mrs. Murray allow someone to just appear in their house (Mrs. Whatsit)? Why didn't they call the police/authorities? What was the thing that Mrs. Whatsit turned into? It looked like a big cabbage leaf. What was the purpose? Why did Calvin come along on the trip? He doesn't really know Meg or Charles Wallace that well.  He just met them. His escapism is not really explained well. However, I liked the fact that the Calvin liked Meg for who she was. He didn't care that the mean girls were picking on her at school or that she didn't have any friends and appeared awkward.

Overall, I would give 'Wrinkle in Time' a 2 and 3/4 stars out of 4. I tried to follow the story the best I could, while relating to the characters. The acting was okay. I tried to be the twelve year old version of myself. If I were a child or a tween, I might further appreciate the film better.  For a break through film, I expected a little more of smoothness of pacing with development of story. Ava went from The Middle of Nowhere, to Selma, to 13th. I felt as though it was a big jump from the other genres (historical narrative and documentary). I don't think that it was the directing that was the issue though. I do feel like it was poor screenwriting from Jennifer Lee, who is known for 'Frozen', and 'Zootopia'. Ironically, both of these I thoroughly enjoyed. Ava should have had more input in the screenwriting process as well as other writers.

Cast Includes:

Oprah Winfrey-Mrs. Which
Reese Witherspoon-Mrs. Whatsit
Mindy Kaling-Mrs. Who
Storm Reid-Meg Murry
Levi Miller-Calvin O'Keefe
Deric McCabe-Charles Wallace Murry
Chris Pine-Dr. Alex Murry
Zach Galifianakis-The Happy Medium
Michael Peña-Red
Gugu Mbatha-Raw-Dr. Kate Murry
André Holland-Principal Jenkins
Rowan Blanchard -Veronica Kiley
David Oyelowo-The It
Bellamy Young-Camazotz Woman
Conrad Roberts-Elegant Man
Yvette Cason-Mrs. Teacher
Will McCormack-Mr. Teacher
Daniel MacPherson-Calvin’s Father


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