Shocking, I know. I’m sure they’re fabulous reads.
However, having not read the books there was no temptation to make the page-to-screen comparisons while watching Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” the latest flick from director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”).
Four years after her NASA scientist father Mr. Murry (Chris Pine) inexplicably vanished, young Meg (Storm Reid) gets a note on her locker from what I can only assume is the typical flock of little B-words (every school has one) to wish her a “Happy anniversary – if only you’d disappear, too.”
Yeahhhh, kids are swell.
Mr. Murry was “sure he could travel with his mind” by “wrinkling time” to explore the “connections to and between other dimensions.”
Everyone knows about Mr. Murry’s disappearance, but no one has any answers – that is, until Meg’s little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) introduces Meg to Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon); Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling); and the grandest and most magnificent of all, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).
They heard a call in the universe. Mrs Which tells Meg that Mr. Murry has “traveled farther … than any human has” but that “he may be in trouble.”
So, what’s a girl to do?
Grab her brother and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller) and “tesser” throughout the universe to find and bring back her father.
And we experience the surrealism and beauty and quirks as Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin traverse dimensions – visiting lands such as Uriel, Orien and Camazotz; meeting gossipy flowers and the Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis) and The Man with Red Eyes (Michael Pena).
The premise here is a fun one for sure. The process, on the other hand, is a little… meh. There are some cute memories of Meg and her father, but I never got any true sense of tug-at-your-heart emotion, which is essential to us caring about the success or failure of this mission.
Some of the pieces to this story seemed either to not fit or just felt completely irrelevant, essentially muddying the overall narrative.
I mean, it was fine; I’m sure a lot of this is carryover from the books – again, didn’t read ‘em, so I can’t be certain – but I feel like some things weren’t explained and as such had no purpose in moving this story forward.
BUT… there are two things that I thought really helped (and actually saved?) this flick: the stunning visuals, and those kids!
The effects that create the frequencies and fantasy worlds are believable enough and highly impressive. And that emaciated scene during which Meg climbs a flight of stairs that no one can see? THAT is crazy cool and a definite treat for the eyes.
Even more delightful are the performances from Reid, McCabe and Miller.
Reid’s maturity commands attention, and she’s so expressive – though effectively not-so-much when appropriate – that you can’t help but be captivated. Also, she has the most amazing hair, whether she realizes it or not.
As Calvin, Miller (who also was amazing in 2015’s “Pan”) is earnest and encouraging; his quiet enthusiasm is endearing and refreshing. And he’s very possibly the sweetest kid in the universe.
McCabe is a strong presence and delivers Charles Wallace’s freakish intelligence and vision with a steadfast confidence that makes you wonder if he’s even real.
These kids collectively steal the show while being the biggest reason for its success.
“Wrinkle” feels very Disney-esque, with its not-too-terrifying moments of peril and its universal lessons on family, friendship and self: “Find the right frequency, and have faith in who you are.”
Meg’s quest obviously is more than simply a search for her father – and though a few elements of this story are a bit lackluster and the emotional investment was seriously lacking other aspects stepped up to at least give moviegoers a mostly engaging and visually “luminous” experience.
You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at email@example.com.