Geek Review: A Wrinkle In Time

I go to the movies almost every week, and most weeks I go to the theater closest to me, which is a Regal.  Regal has been running a “behind the scenes” promo/ad for A Wrinkle in Time for months now, and it didn’t exactly endear me enough to see the movie.  And I saw it before, well, just about everything.  I saw it before the R-rated Gringo.  And I saw it just before A Wrinkle in Time.  You know, the movie I was there to see.  They put an ad for the movie I was about to see before I saw it.  And I’d seen it what felt like a few hundred times by then.

I also read the book before the movie came out.  I was not a fan.  How about the movie anyway?

So, let’s get this out of the way:  aside from the visuals and a few other things added to give the original text some action, the plot of the movie follows the book along pretty well until the last ten to fifteen minutes.  Most of the excisions even make sense.  Protagonist Meg Murry has a pair of twin brothers in the book that are absent from the movie.  That’s fine.  Those boys don’t really do anything.  Most of the changes were done to make the various alien planets look more alien, to modernize the appearance of things (such as how the book has a long scene in a bureaucratic office building that would have fit more into a Cold War-type scenario), and to create a more racially diverse cast.  I can’t really object to any of those things.  Plus, many of the things that really annoyed me about the book, such as Mrs. Who’s constantly quoting things, or Meg’s five year old brother Charles Wallace just knowing stuff for no clear reason, are very much present in the movie.

The problem I had with the book–and the movie–is that it’s a rather scattered thing.  Director Ava DuVernay took what I felt was a rather bland book about using faith to overcome evil, where the heroine is essentially rather helpless until the end of the book and then realizes something she has never doubted for a second is needed to save the day, and changed it a bit, making it no longer overtly Christian and instead making it about a teenage girl who needs a good dose of self-esteem and empowerment.    The book version of this story tells us things like how Meg’s friend Calvin has the gifts of “diplomacy” and “communication,” but these factors play absolutely no role in the book at all.  DuVernay’s movie does make some usage out of the more cryptic stuff, shaping it into something that makes sense and will work better as a result for the viewer, but there’s still the questions of what use, if any, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) actually bring to the story.  They offer cryptic advise (maybe), absolutely no instruction whatsoever, and then expect Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace to figure things out for themselves.

So, inbetween special effects scenes that sure are colorful, we get a story about Meg (Storm Reid, who really should have gotten top billing, Oprah!) going on a mission she may not feel she’s qualified to go on.  She’s moody, pessimistic, and doesn’t seem to like anybody aside from her family.  The movie bounces around, can’t seem to find a tone that works, and then ends with Meg learning to believe in herself, a valuable lesson for anybody but especially young girls.  And she figures things out on her own this time, too.

Kids will probably like this, but I found it a rather “meh” movie overall.  Seven out of ten moments when you realize Zach Galifianakis gives the movie the most entertaining performance.

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