A Wrinkle in Time is a hard nut to crack. For those with dog-eared, bathtub-stained copies of the book from their childhoods, the movie both rises to the occasion as well as falls aggressively short. Those who do not have the reference point of the book may be just as disoriented by the shifting emotional tone and, at times, topsy-turvy visual effects.
Madeline L’Engle’s 1962 novel serves as the source material for this movie and has been previously said to be “un-filmable” (the 2003 attempt serves as proof of this; it’s a train wreck). The 2018 film, released nearly 15 years later, in many ways reaffirms this, as it is forced to do so much of the imagining for you.
Many of the scenes are, without a doubt, visually stunning but in no way reflect the childlike images I maintained, or even the ones II forged during multiple adulthood rereads. Also disappointingly, so many of the most breathtaking visuals are juxtaposed against egregious and mediocre CGI.
The moments where this film does excel, however, is in its characters, with its actors having moments that are purely heart wrenching, uplifting and therefore stunning. Chris Pine, playing the mad scientist and father obsessed with his work, delivers one of the best scenes with movie daughter Meg (Stormy Reid) that rips your heart out, even with the previous lack of development. In tandem with the three witches (Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon), casting could not have been more accurate. The witches in particular – Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which – will inevitably bring a smile to your face.
And I’m throwing out a call for a Best Costuming nomination now.
What A Wrinkle in Time does do, regardless, is create a world in which young children are empowered to fight back against the darkness and injustices that they see. In that way, regardless of the 56 candles on the story’s birthday cake, the film’s message is truly timeless.