Well…that was interesting.
Truth be told, I was actually excited to hear that Disney was doing a film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay. I love science fiction, especially anything that involves space or anything that makes you real think about what the message of the program is (hence the reason I am a full-blown Trekkie). So after seeing Tomorrowland (another Disney sci-fi epic) and being quite impressed, I was quite ready to see where they would take this story.
And then, I actually read the full story. I slowly got more and more concerned with each chapter I read. How on Earth would Disney stuff so much into a 109 minute movie? And how much will they have to cut out to keep it PG?
I’ll answer the above questions soon, because I’ve divided my personal review of this movie into the four components I think are most important: the plot/writing, the casting and characters, the visuals, and the soundtrack. Of course, I don’t grade every movie on these components alone (mostly because I don’t review films period). But nevertheless, I needed some structure to this, so…here we go.
The Plot Thickens(?)
This is the big component I was worried about. The original source material by Madeleine L’Engle was packed with so many different events that tied together perfectly that I began to wonder, “How much can you cut from a book plot to make it still understandable but a Disney film at the same time?” The answer? Rush. Rush everything. And that is how I felt for the majority of the time I watched this film. Of course, reading the book itself felt like a whirlwind of adventure, but still, you had time to think about everything before you turned the page. With a movie, you are just watching everything happen, with no time to think. Also, I could somewhat see what “plot holes” the reviews were talking about. Because it felt so rushed, it made me wonder, “Where is the IT actually located on Camazotz?”, and “What happened to Mrs. Whatsit being a star?” and “Where is Aunt Beast?!” (I was super bummed about not seeing her).
That brings me to a major statement: you might feel the same way I do if you have already read the book. On the other hand, people going in blind might enjoy it much more because they don’t have the source material to go on. So while bookworms might be arguing about how this didn’t make it into the film or that is not how that character should act, newcomers to the story can appreciate the film for everything else it has to offer. Long story short, they wouldn’t know what they are missing.
The Cast and Characters You Know and Love
The acting itself was actually pretty fantastic. Many of the characters seemed to stay true to the book itself. Reese Witherspoon was able to capture Mrs. Whatsit’s whimsical nature, while Deric McCabe, a child actor nonetheless, truly brought the not-so-average Charles Wallace to life. While certain aspects are missing, such as Mrs. Which’s super long ssss, the actors were quite well suited to play their roles.
I also did appreciate the choice to cast both African American and Caucasian actors, especially to portray the Murry family. While the film does cater to positive African American portrayal in the media, it also portrays an interracial relationship, further pushing the idea of love in all forms using a method that most likely was not present in the book based upon that time period.
Visuals and Art of a World Beyond
This movie was definitely CGI heavy, but the visual art that went into this film was actually breathtaking. The colors, the movement, everything was wonderful. Even the tessering looked awesome. However, we must keep in mind that this is a visual representation of everything in the book that they chose to put on the big screen, thus, as mentioned earlier, some of the settings and art were removed or changed. This was most likely for the sake of keeping the film PG, especially considering that children might not be fine with seeing a man with pulsating red eyes or a massive pulsing disembodied brain. Despite the lack of being able to see the IT in the way L’Engle envisioned it (another thing I was bummed about), there is an allusion to what the IT is in the form of Meg confronting her brother in a place made of neurons, the cells that the brain is made of (hint hint).
The Soundtrack (An Important Part of a Healthy and Successful Film)
And now, my favorite part of any film, television series, or video game. Sure there are characters and CGI and a plot, but the soundtrack is what brings the film together by tugging at the mental heartstrings while you watch love conquer evil. And so, after many paragraphs about everything else, my thoughts on the score:
What score? There was barely a score there. Most movies have full size original music to fill in every nook and cranny of sound where someone was not speaking. This movie’s score felt almost non-existent. Of course, I was not expecting a musical masterpiece by Hans Zimmer or John Williams. But I also was not expecting the film to be so packed with actual pop music by well-known or up-and-coming artists. I do enjoy a small interlude of perhaps one or two new songs written for the film as part of the incidental music, but I would have appreciated the film much more if there had been more original music. Because there is a line between showcasing new talent and being seemingly lazy about the soundtrack for your own film. Then again, as a musician, I could be biased when it comes to a media soundtrack…
If any of you guys want to go see the film, please by all means do so. The acting was great, the visuals were beautiful, and unlike me you might appreciate new music from new artists like Sade, Kehlani, Chloe x Halle, and Freestyle Fellowship. But to my fellow students who know the story, just don’t expect to see Aunt Beast and the centaurs of Uriel.