A Wrinkle in Time

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A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle is a science fiction fantasy novel featuring Meg Murry (Storm Reid), her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and their new friend Calvin (Levi Miller) in their quest to find Meg and Charles Wallace's father (Chris Pine). They are accompanied by three astral travelers (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling) to help guide their way through the universe and help them navigate the fifth-dimension. 

The novel has been relished as an icon science fiction for 50 years and has been the source for many an inspired young writer.  However, I feel that this only holds up if you're reading it for the first time as a child.

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Somehow in my youth, this novel managed to slip past me.  Maybe it's because I was busy re-reading Harry Potter when I was the appropriate age for this story, or maybe I jumped right from reading to trying to challenge myself and reading at a higher grade level.  It had always existed in the back of my mind as a book I probably should have read, actually, up until a few years ago I owned the book but for some reason I never felt the inclination to read it.  Just before the release of the film, I finally picked up a copy and started on this journey that everyone had built up for me.

I didn't hate it, I can see why people loved it and I can see the structure of the story and all the promise it has.  However, as an adult the story felt clunky and hard to follow.  Maybe this is my rational adult brain taking over, maybe I'm incapable of appreciating it for what it is because my imagination has matured past a child's.  I got about halfway through the book and found myself struggling to keep going.  At first, I thought this was because I had seen the movie before finishing the book, and that maybe I was struggling because I already knew the ending so I didn't need to read it anymore, but this has never been the case in the past, and the novel is different enough from the movie where I wasn't able to predict the absolute next thing that would be happening.

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That being said, I liked the movie.  I can't speak for those who read the book as children, but I just couldn't visualize the setting for a lot of the scenes.  Or, the ones I could visualize were not going to translate well to screen anyway.  So, when I was presented with the movie it was better than I could have imagined.

And of course, our top-billed cast: Oprah, Reese and Mindy; who shined (literally, some of their outfits were incredibly reflective, particularly Oprah's) in their roles.  I'm sure plenty of people with nostalgia for the book will be upset by their appearances, they're more glamorous and humanized compared to their novel counterparts, however I feel it's less confusing for viewers to see them in the same general form throughout the whole film rather than trying to keep track of who is who through all the transitions.

There were certainly some large parts of the novel cut from the film, and I didn't spot any of the Christian themes during my initial viewing.  It seems to me that these choices simplified the story and gave the characters a chance to shine through an easier to follow story that still maintained the essence of the original without becoming too convoluted. 

Director Ava DuVernay has done some extraordinary work in this film, and the fact that she's the first black female director to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million is a huge deal, but that doesn't make the film extraordinary.  As cute as it is, and as progressive as it is, this film is still just another product of the Disney movie machine, despite the filmmakers' attempts to make it something more.