A Wrinkle In Time Introduces Youngsters To Time Travel And Quantum Physics
The bending and folding of time and space is a concept sci-fi fans are more than familiar with. Director Ava DuVernay’s (Selma) new movie introduces the idea to kids who are still too young to be hardcore Doctor Who fans. A Wrinkle In Time is the Disney adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 fantasy novel about a rescue mission across time and space using a blend of geometry and quantum physics in the form of a phenomenon called a tesseract.
At the centre of the story is Meg, the child of two scientist parents on the verge of a paradigm-shifting discovery (that’d be the aforementioned tesseract). Since the disappearance of her father four years earlier, Meg has transformed from a happy, inquisitive child to an insecure and sullen one. In trouble at school and at home, Meg seems misunderstood by everyone but her younger brother and her lone friend, Calvin. When a trio of celestial women offer her the chance to find her father, she doesn’t even have the confidence to try. But with new friends cheering her on, she discovers she’s the only one with the courage, the heart, and the intelligence to rescue her dad, save her little brother, and strike a blow against the spread of evil in the universe.
What made L’Engle’s novel stand out was that her science-minded child protagonist was—brace yourselves—female. In the new film adaptation, our hero (newcomer Storm Reid) is joined by the familiar Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which (Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and—insert angels singing from on high sound here—OPRAH). DuVernay has made certain to put these four women front and centre while the supporting male characters cheer them on from the sidelines (that’d be Chris Pine in the role of Meg’s dad, Deric McCabe as her precocious little brother, Levi Miller as her time-travelling partner in crime, and Zach Galifianakis as the grouchy Happy Medium).
Her efforts have put A Wrinkle In Time ahead of the curve in terms of the idea of inclusion riders, which most of us only learned about last Sunday when Frances McDormand gave the concept of on-set equity a shout out during her Best Actress acceptance speech at the Oscars. It’s so awesome to watch a film with an ethnically diverse and balanced cast that doesn’t simply feature a token woman or a token person of colour. Another plus is the focus on women doing science at a time when parents and teachers are trying to encourage more young girls to study STEM subjects. The movie actually checks quite a few “positive message” boxes that parents will appreciate (i.e. be nice to your siblings, don’t be a bully, believe in yourself).
For non-parents, there’s Oprah’s incredible and ever-changing jewelled eyebrows. Fingers crossed that the sequel stars her makeup artist.
While the movie (out just in time for the break—Disney sees you, parents) is a good way to kill a couple hours on a rainy day, adult fans of the book will most likely be disappointed by this adaptation. The dialogue is clunky and awkwardly delivered by most of the actors, save Witherspoon and Winfrey. Minor characters like Meg’s schoolmates and teachers are cruel without motivation or reason, and Meg’s missing father makes decisions that no parent (or adult) would ever understand. In focusing on the story’s positive messages, it feels like DuVernay didn’t devote enough energy to performance or plot.
A Wrinkle in Time is in theatres today. Check out the trailer below.