Wrinkle In Time
This is a movie you want to like, but can't.
The casting is good, the plot is based on the classic children's
book by Madeline L'Engle, but somehow the screenplay leaves much of the
substance of the novel behind, fails to develop the characters, and
settles for a vague, feel-good-about-yourself kind of moral that is
lamentably lightweight, even for children.
Meg (Storm Reid) is a pubescent student who's not been “meeting
her potential” lately. Her
father (Chris Pine) has disappeared for several years, and she's not
adjusted well. He's supposedly
some brilliant scientist experimenting with moving through space through
mental trajectory, but it appears he's gotten stuck somewhere, so the
Universe sets out to help Meg find her Dad.
The Universe manifests itself in three Good-Fairy-type personas,
Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which
(Oprah Winfrey). They
invest Meg with the power to transport herself, along with her brilliant
little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and a friendly classmate,
Calvin (Levi Miller). The
three other-worldly women are an impressive sight, but their personalities
aren't developed enough to help us get to know their uniqueness.
Calvin does nothing except follow along.
Charles Wallace at least has some range:
he gets to be both enthused at the beginning and end of the
journey, and mean in the middle. It
seems for a while there, he was inhabited by “It,” which is the force
of darkness. It's vaguely
defined as whatever keeps you from loving, and broadens to include
bullies, and even indicates that jealousy can also be an obstacle.
The light and the darkness contrast was developed in the original
novel as a spiritual struggle, even with scriptural references, but in
this film all religious implications have been carefully excised.
I'm thinking that there are lots of kids out there whose fathers
have wandered off or made themselves scarce.
And no doubt many of those kids would love to re-connect with their
“lost” Dad. But the result
here seems to imply that if the kid tries hard enough, not only can she
bring her Dad back into her life, she can even get her Mom and Dad back
together. And yet there are
many kids for whom that scenario is not possible, much less desirable, and
wishing for it isn't going to make it so.
Yes, there are some creative images on the screen.
But it feels like style at the expense of substance.
Alas, it's an opportunity lost.