I wanted to like A Wrinkle In Time.
I’ve always loved films that speak to the heart, films that are rich with life lessons and inspirational moments. And A Wrinkle In Time stars one of the most inspiring figures of our time, Oprah Winfrey. This is exactly the type of movie I’d gravitate to.
Based on the 1962 science fantasy novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time follows the adventures of a bespectacled teenager Meg Murry (Storm Reid) searching for her father who mysteriously vanished four years ago.
Meg’s father Dr Murry (Chris Pine) is an astrophysicist who discovered a way to explore the universe with his mind. But something went wrong and he hasn’t returned since.
Meanwhile, Meg and her whip-smart little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) have been going through a tough time at school, with all kinds of unsavoury conjectures made about their father’s bizarre disappearance.
In walks three fabulously-dressed women Mrs Which (Winfrey), Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling). The ladies are supernatural beings equipped with mythical powers. They heard a desperate cry for help and followed it, leading them to Meg’s doorstep.
Meg learns that her father was last spotted at the planet Uriel. With the help of the three women, Meg, her brother and the odd inclusion of a random classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) are whisked away to Uriel to find him.
First impressions-wise, A Wrinkle In Time is promising. Visually, the film looks mesmerising at every turn. Its depiction of Uriel especially, with its vibrant colours and breathtaking flora and fauna, lives up to L’Engle’s vivid description in the book.
Combining the use of CGI and footages from real-life locations, the aesthetics portion of the film is nothing short of magnificent.
I couldn’t stop staring at the costumes too. The three women are always dressed in bold, whimsical frocks that look like they’re neither from the past nor the future which, I guess, is the point.
And what commitment too! Those very elaborate costumes, hairdos and makeup keep changing every time we see them in a new scene. After a while, it feels a bit like a fashion show of sorts.
But of course, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, no matter how pretty it is.
Don’t get me wrong, A Wrinkle In Time is well-intentioned.
The wisdom-spewing Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who never miss an opportunity to share with Meg some words of wisdom when the going gets tough, and in doing so, inspire the audience. And these are important lessons on self-worth, embracing one’s individuality, courage and hope.
But here’s the problem – a weak storyline.
The first half of A Wrinkle In Time moves along at a snail’s pace.
Nothing exciting actually happens, apart from the fact that the children are taken to these visually-spectacular planets.
Instead, the trio, particularly Mrs Which, gives long pep talks addressing Meg’s fears and insecurities, which isn’t a bad thing, but because of its paper-thin storyline, it feels like an overkill.
Also, the film doesn’t flesh out its characters enough. Remember that random classmate Calvin I briefly mentioned? Well, I kept it brief because, despite being a main character, we know very little about him. Calvin waltzes in on a handful of early scenes and before we know it, he’s now part of the Murry siblings’ journey.
There’s an unmistakable element of fun in the book which comes from the interactions between Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who. There’s very little of that here unfortunately. Sure, some of the their idiosyncrasies are explored and there are some witty exchanges but they aren’t that funny.
Dialogue-heavy and devoid of light-hearted moments, I’m not sure if the film can hold the attention of its young target audience.
To be fair, there’s a lot more that goes on in the second half. However, that too, has its share of problems.
Quite a bit of the action that takes place in the book gets cut out here. And without giving too much away, the film reaches its conclusion too simplistically.
A Wrinkle In Time tries hard to inspire viewers but overlooks one crucial thing – the need to entertain.
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A Wrinkle In Time
Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Deric McCabe, Levi Miller