The Brightest Star of A Wrinkle in Time, To the uninitiated, the ads for Disney’s new fantasy blockbuster A Wrinkle in Timeemphasize its A-list cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, and Oprah Winfrey. But anyone familiar with the Madeleine L’Engle novel that serves as the source material knows that this story is all about a 13-year old girl and her incredible, impossible journey through space and time to rescue her missing father. So, as has been the case with plenty of Disney’s live-action films over the years, this movie relies on the talents of its young, relatively unknown lead, Storm Reid. The gamble pays off, better than might have been expected.
Reid plays Meg Murry, an awkward, bespectacled young teen who struggles at school because of bullies as well as schoolyard gossip regarding her father (Pine), a trailblazing scientist who’s been mysteriously missing for years. One day, Meg is whisked away by a trio of supernatural figures (Witherspoon, Winfrey, and Kaling) so that she, along with her adopted brother and a classmate, can jump—or tesser—through space and time to find her dad. The reasons why Meg’s father went missing and where he’s being held captive are all fantastical, but A Wrinkle in Time remains firmly rooted in pain and loss thanks largely to Reid’s nuanced, emotional performance.
No matter how wild the visuals get in A Wrinkle in Time, it’s to the credit of director Ava DuVernay and screenwriters Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell that they never stray too far from the emotional underpinning of why Meg is willing to almost literally move Heaven and Earth to bring her whole family back together. Reid is one of the film’s biggest assets overall; Meg’s arc from being crippled by self-doubt to embracing her faults and her dysfunctional family is wonderfully realized through her expressive and subtle work.
What makes A Wrinkle in Time perhaps a more frustrating book to adapt for the big screen is that the struggles L’Engle depicted are largely internal. The climax of the story (both in book and film form) features Meg facing off against a massive brain known as the IT, which represents the darkness of the universe. But no matter how odd or baffling the story gets — or how odd or baffling some of the choices in how the book has been adapted — Reid is at the center, a wrenching emotional core who serves as a necessary throughline.
In many ways, Reid’s toughest scene is the emotional crescendo of Wrinkle: after all sorts of wild tessers through space and time, and encounters with fantasy worlds and creatures, Meg is able to find her father and has a tearful reunion with him. The basic emotional expectations of the scene may be predictable, but Reid imbues Meg’s literal and metaphorical embrace of her dad with a level of raw heartbreak and tearful happiness that’s unexpected in a big-budget blockbuster like this. Moments like that reunion are what stand out amidst the grand, colorful, CGI-laden events of Wrinkle; so much of what makes the film work is its sincerely emotional presentation of a girl on the cusp of adulthood grappling with loss and confusion at what kind of person she wants to be.
A Wrinkle in Time Beats Black Panther at Friday Box Office
Black Panther was knocked down to second place at the domestic box office on Friday thanks to the release of A Wrinkle in Time, which happens to be yet another Disney film. Marvel’s Black Panther – directed by Ryan Coogler and based on a script from Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, and starring Chadwick Boseman as the eponymous hero – has been dominating at the worldwide box office these past few weeks and is on the verge of crossing the billion-dollar mark. But its box office reign may be coming to an end.
Directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma) from a script by Jennifer Lee (Frozen) and Jeff Stockwell (Bridge to Terabithia), Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle. The film was originally commissioned by Disney in 2010 following the highly successful release of Tim Burton’s live-action Alice in Wonderland movie. It stars Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, among others. Unfortunately, despite a well-rounded cast and some truly emotional scenes, the film didn’t translate well onto the big screen. A Wrinkle in Time has earned generally negative reviews from both critics and audiences alike, and it’s sitting at a 42 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, the film has an audience – and that audience just helped it knock down the world’s biggest movie right now: Black Panther.