‘A Wrinkle in Time:’ A weak adaptation of a classic novel

Wonder in their eyes: Meg (Storm Reid) and Calvin (Levi Miller) stand in wonder at the scenery of the new world they have traveled to. Much like the rest of the film, this spectacular visual lasts too short to be able to truly enjoy its beauty.

Charles Rankin

In 1962, a young adult science-fantasy novel was written by Madeleine L’Engle. “A Wrinkle in Time” would go on to sell millions of copies and be loved all across the world. Over 50 years later, and after countless people said that it was unadaptable, Disney has finally released the film adaptation, directed by Ava DuVernay.

While a fair attempt was made to adapt this classic piece of modern literature, DuVernay’s film falls short of the joy and allure of the original book, a story about a girl trying to find her lost father.

The film, with a runtime of just under a two hours, tries to pack in as much of the source material as possible, but is far too short of a film to really contain the full essence of the book. The film does feature some of the most poignant and recognizable moments from the book, such as the creepy scene of children in driveways in a cul-de-sac bouncing balls in unison, as seen from the trailer. These spot-on adaptations of particular scenes do not make up for the lack of cohesion and plot development that the length of the book offers. The film’s story seems rushed, as the characters move quickly from one place in the universe to the next and many of the little details that make the book interesting are completely left out.

The visuals of the film are absolutely stunning. The special effects are dazzling, with wormhole like movements through the universe and children flying on the back of a dragon-like creature. The location shooting was also a highlight of the film. DuVernay shot a portion on location in New Zealand, like Peter Jackson did when filming “The Lord of the Rings,” which allows the audience to soak in the beauty of the country. The problem is the film doesn’t allow the audience to truly enjoy these visuals due to its short runtime.

Beside the stunning visuals, the film does have other strong points. Its cast, made up of a very diverse and inclusive group of actors, does well to keep the audience engaged. Storm Reid is able to convey the awkward and angsty teen turned unlikely hero in the main character of Meg Murry. The characters of Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) offer a unique and diverse source of guidance for the main characters and, at times, even for the audience. Even the film’s youngest actor, Deric McCabe, does well in conveying the interesting and dynamic character of Charles Wallace Murry.

However, with the exception of a short, but fantastic performance by Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium, the supporting characters in the film really lack a lot of depth and purpose. Meg’s parents, played by Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, seem to just be there at key moments to move the plot along. The acting by both actors is another element that of the film that is lacking. The real disappointment in characters and casting is Michael Peña as Red Eyes. In the book, this character serves as a minor antagonist, foiling the main trio of children as they get closer to finding to Dr. Murry. Peña was a fine choice to play this role, but his acting strengths are not nearly featured enough in this role, which lasts shorter than almost every other character in the film.

The film itself is a fine representation of its source material, but it doesn’t do it justice at such a short runtime. This is probably due to the fact that it is marketed toward a younger audience, who typically has a shorter attention span, but the film could’ve really been helped by running longer and including much more of the smaller, nuanced details from the book. Perhaps this particular story would serve better in a different format, such as a mini-series.