By Ceara Kelly, Contributor
A Wrinkle in Time was a magical story from many people’s childhood, but its 2018 retelling leans too heavily on special effects and big name actors to keep that whimsy alive. While the core message and plot of the book shone through, the already odd pacing is only made worse when the director and screenwriters decided to lengthen the early fourth of the book and rush the end of it, erasing some of the more important scenes.
An adaption doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good movie, but when a movie like A Wrinkle in Time changes practically nothing, it makes the differences stand out, especially when they clash with the movie’s message. Both the source material and film follow the young Meg Murry, along with her younger brother Charles Wallace, as they travel the universe with their friend Calvin and three all-powerful beings, Mrs. Who, Whatsit, and Which, to save the universe from the impending Darkness (yes, the villain really is that creatively named). A Wrinkle in Time follows the plot wonderfully, outside of its pacing problems, leading to failed character development. The real problem comes from how the characters are adapted.
For a movie all about learning to find strength in your flaws, Mrs. Whatsit certainly loves to torment Meg. Nearly every joke in this movie is the millennium old, all-powerful being belittling a thirteen-year-old girl. The other Misses often tell her to lay off, but only assure Meg once that she’s fine, and it’s all quickly canceled out by having Zach Galifianakis mock her for a change.
Casting Galifianakis as Happy Medium was a strange choice since in the novel, Galifianakis’ character is a woman. Changing that wouldn’t be that big of a deal, especially when knowing how involved women were in making this, but it’s the fact that his character was changed to a man so everyone knew Mrs. Whatsit had a boyfriend. It may have been done for some added jokes, but the lack of jokes isn’t the problem; it’s the jokes being made that were, considering most of them went against the theme of self-love and independence.
That being said, the movie isn’t horrible. For the most part, the cast is fantastic, though casting Oprah and Reese Witherspoon as Which and Whatsit respectively was not the best choice. Despite them playing the characters well, it was hard to see anything but them, especially with Oprah basically playing herself. However, the rest of the cast was shockingly good. Most child actors are painful to watch, so to have a movie like this depend on them for the majority of it is risky. These kids manage to exceed any and all expectations. Mindy Kaling also managed to avoid the curse of the other Misses and fades right into her character. The quality of the cast’s overall performance was a pleasant surprise.
Then there’s the obvious dazzle of the visuals. The world A Wrinkle in Time creates is spectacular. The book is so specific in its descriptions, and the movie manages to bring it to life and make it better than you could have imagined. Everything is beautiful, from the vivid colors, to the world designs, to the costumes. Even during the uncomfortable endless close-ups (which take up approximately 75% of the movie), you can’t help but respect the effort they put into the world that’s being hidden by the massive head of a six-year-old.
In the end, A Wrinkle in Time is a fun movie that suffers from one major problem: bad time usage, which is quite funny, considering it’s about time manipulation. Still, the visuals and light-hearted message make the overall experience bearable. In the end, it’s just another movie that only earns the overall reaction of “meh.”
Watch the trailer here: