A year and six days since my last movie review, and I'm back again for a movie I've been itching to see! I knew of the story of A Wrinkle in Time from right back before Disney first announced they were going to start production on another (yes, another - did you know Disney already put out a made-for-tv version that aired back in 2004) version, so I was excited! However, I hadn't actually read the book before, so bought myself a copy and read it earlier on this month. I am writing this introduction on March 22nd, pre seeing the movie, as I do with all of my reviews, and at this point, I haven't actually even seen the trailers because I want some sort of surprises. You can see the trailer below before reading on!
So to start out I want to say that the book 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle was great. I really enjoyed it and became rather invested in the family, however, I felt that I was left wanting more...as in I wouldn't have complained had there been a couple more chapters to bulk out the ending. I obviously went into the movie with this in mind.
In the director's seat, we have Ava Marie DuVernay who before now I was sadly unfamiliar with having not seen any of her previous work, though I had high hopes after seeing some hype during the run-up.
Not to become predictable, but to mimic my views on the lead child actor cast in both The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon, I have to say I really loved Storm Reid in her role as Meg. Disney are experts at many things and finding the talented kiddos is no exception! Storm does already have a small catalogue of movies and TV shows under her belt, including 12 Years a Slave, so it's not too much of a shock that she brought the Murry daughter's spirit to life brilliantly.
We were also treated to Reese Witherspoon in a slightly kookier role for her, Mrs Whatsit; Wreck it Ralph & Inside Out voice actor (among other movies obviously) Mindy Kaling became my favourite of the Mrs' - Mrs Who, and last but not least the 'much loved' Oprah Winfrey as Mrs Which. Our first introductions to both Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who felt emotional and special, even more unique and wonderful than in the book, it was Mrs Which's entrance that felt a little lacklustre, a theme which carried on throughout the movie...be it the acting or direction, I'm not sure.
Rounding out the family was the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette in 2017's Beauty and the Beast) and Chris Pine as the Mother and Father Murry's, Levi Miller as Calvin and Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace. I also want to mention Zach Galifianakis as the Happy Medium because when he came on screen I wrote straight away in my notes that I found him the perfect man for the job...even if the Happy Medium was originally listed as female.
Despite seeing a lot of mixed thoughts online, I love how diverse the cast was especially the Murry's being multiracial. The main things that disappointed me with our book to movie characters were that two of them were missing, Fortinbras is seen not nearly enough and it felt weird to have Charles Wallace be adopted rather than biologically related. After reading into it the reasoning behind his adoption, I accept it as a good way to further extend on how mixed their family is.
This is the first time I decided to take a notepad and jot down my thoughts in real time at the cinema and I ended up writing just shy of 2.5 pages. Having read the book before seeing the movie vastly affected my feelings towards the movie and in some ways, I guess that was slightly negative. After all is said and done, the plot stays true to the journey but some small changes add up to make it feel pretty different.
At the beginning we see more of the kid's school life, Charles Wallace speaks in school to teachers and other kids, Meg is more rebellious even a little rude, making both of the siblings' demeanour seem harder. 'Flashback' style scenes also give us a deeper understanding of family life before the disappearance of Mr Murry, opening the movie with a very emotional moment.
The larger changes relate more so to the end of their journey. I can't speak for everyone but I guess those going into the movie with a fresh mind will probably enjoy how everything pans out, but personally, it feels strange to completely omit Ixchel and the relationship with Aunt Beast who is pivotal in warming the hearts of Meg and her Dad.
Of course, what with the book being written back in the early 60s, they have made changes to bring it up to date with music, fashion and Mrs Who even whipped out an Outkast quote which was pretty cool.
There were a few other moments that I felt were reminiscent of other Disney movies and modern pop culture: the visualization of tessering made me think of disapparating in Harry Potter, gossiping flowers seemed Wonderland inspired, Mrs Whatsit's transformation looked like a nod to Te Fiti in Moana, my Mam was reminded of the smoke monster from Lost by the Black Thing and the landing spot in Camazotz gave Tomorrowland vibes.
On a whole, A Wrinkle in Time was visually stunning - bright and excentric at the right moments, magical and whimsical, including incredible costuming and unclockable wigs haha! As always I opted for 2D and there were only a couple instances that I thought may benefit from being watched in 3D. Some of the special effects sadly fell a little short for me, considering the super high bar Disney has set in recent years, causing a distraction in scenes that could have been more powerful had they been stripped back.
Looking at other reviews online the main criticisms tend to tar the movie as overly childish and pushy/preaching when it came to inclusivity, which I have to disagree with. Visually it could be appealing to children, but the sickingly (in the best way!) sentimentality and an emotional family story has the typical Disney morals and themes that make it an uplifting, inspirational watch for all ages. As for the 'preachy' inclusion of a mix of races, classes and backgrounds...those who think this obviously look too much at race in general. If you are watching any movie and are questioning why there are so many people of colour or other races then you are not seeing enough movies with a mixed race cast. The plot is unaffected by the characters colours, the book does not state skin colour and in a perfect world, we would look at each actor as an actor, each human as a human, and not as their culture, birthplace or heritage. It's 2018, start acting like it.
In conclusion, I loved the strong diverse cast despite the odd wavering performance. Places I pictured in my head while reading the story came to life larger and in charge(er?) that I could have imagined, though missing or muddled scenes of the original journey disappointed me. The ending did seem to come together well, considering I felt the books ending to be slightly abrupt and the emotional family bonds hit my soft heart hard.
I read a quote from Mick LaSalle of the San Fransisco Chronicle that summed up my feelings when the credits rolled perfectly, ''There's something about A Wrinkle in Time overall that doesn't take flight. It doesn't fall to the ground, either, just sort of hovers when it should soar.'' Yes, I enjoyed the movie very much don't get me wrong, but it could have gone further.
Have you seen A Wrinkle in Time yet? What did you think? From reviews you've seen or heard since it's release do you think it is something you will go to see? Let me know in the comments!
Other Disney Movies Reviews by Me:
'Beauty and the Beast' 2017
'Pete's Dragon' 2016
'Alice Through The Looking Glass' 2016