By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“Madeleine Engle’s 1962 beloved novel, “A Wrinkle in Time” somehow escaped my childhood. I wish it hadn’t especially after seeing the artistic vision that acclaimed director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”)
brings to Disney’s sprawling, big screen adaptation.
Working from a screenplay by Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Jeff Stockwell, (“Bridge to Terabithia”), DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time”
is a contemporary, ambitious tale that is both weird and wonderful. It’s poignant and even at times confounding due to its involved, clunky, shape-shifting plot. Still, the Skittles, rainbow colored world which “A Wrinkle in Time” is set against, certainly adds to the film’s mystique.
In addition, the movie's stellar and diverse cast features Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Pena, Mindy Kaling and newcomers Deric McCabe and Storm Reid.
It’s been four years since 14-year-old Meg Murray (a fabulous, Storm Reid, “12 Years a Slave”) has seen her astrophysicist father Alex (Chris Pine, “Wonder Woman”). He somehow mysteriously disappeared after discovering a new planet.
The precocious teen understandably hasn’t been able to cope with the loss. What’s worse, Meg is bullied at school by a group of girls. She doesn’t get a lot of sympathy either from her school principal, Mr. Jenkins (Andre Holland, “Moonlight”). He tells Meg that her father is probably never coming back.
That leaves Meg, her mother Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Miss Sloane” and “Concussion”) and little genius brother Charles, (an adorable and terrific Deric McCabe, “Stephanie”) left with nothing but faith that they’ll one day see their dad again.
As luck would have it, one dark and stormy night, Meg’s family is visited by a strange, red-headed woman named Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon, TV’s “Big Little Lies”).
Soon Meg, Charles and their school classmate Calvin (a drab Levi Miller, TV’s “Supergirl”) are whisked away to a fantastical realm in search of Meg’s father.
They’re also joined by astral travelers Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling, TV’s “The Mindy Project”)—who speaks primarily using well-known pop culture quotes and the like--and Mrs. Which, a tower of power and wisdom (Oprah Winfrey, “OWN” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”).
Together their journey—or “tessering”—a form of time travel—has them on the hunt for Alex, but also something much more meaningful. Along the way they come across an interesting character known as the “Happy Medium,” (Zach Galifianakis, TV’s “Baskets”). He’s a seer who tells Meg that her father was last seen on the planet Camazotz which is ruled by an evil source called “The It” (David Oyelowo, “Gringo”).
The Happy Medium also instructs Meg to be strong as they venture throughout this bizarre and gorgeously rendered universe. They also must withstand the threat of a demon named Red (Michael Pena, “12 Strong”) who has ulterior motives that include using little Charles.
It’s a lot for Meg to overcome, but the expedition in the end teaches her life lessons of self-worth, acceptance, the importance of family, and trust.
With “A Wrinkle in Time,” director Ava DuVernay—who is now the first black woman to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million--has made an ambitious, appealing and imaginative kid’s movie. It’s another welcome and big leap for Walt Disney Pictures too especially coming on the heels of the box office hit “Black Panther.”
It seems a new day is dawning in Hollywood.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Take A Peek At This Trailer For "A WRINKLE IN TIME"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.