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Review: A Wrinkle in Time

In 1962 author Madeleine L’Engle published a children’s novel unlike any other. L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” combines well written characters with innovative storytelling on the importance of love against darkness and bundles it all up in the genre of science fantasy. When Disney announced that they were making another movie adaptation of L’Engle’s book, fans were hesitant. This new movie is directed by Ava DuVernay, the director of the acclaimed Netflix documentary “13th” and best picture nominee “Selma.” Though Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” attempts to be a well intentioned fantasy story, DuVernay’s movie suffers from three major flaws.

There is a level of fantasy and splendor embedded in each page of L’Engle’s work that is never present in DuVernay’s movie. The movie does have magical creatures, metaphorical characters and bizarre planets, but none of it seems to enchant or mystify. This is in part due to the movie’s lackluster CGI and poor special effects. When some new creature or bizzare thing appears on the screen, it is immediately doubted by the viewer. Nothing imaginary or wondrous in this movie appears meaningful or interesting. L’Engle’s fans cannot even look forward to seeing an interpretation of their favorite creature, as DuVernay’s movie does not feature any of L’Engle’s beasts.

If this movie had well crafted special effects, then the movie would at least be an alluring experience. There are many reasons why this movie is an uninteresting, vapid spectacle, but the primary reason why DuVernay’s movie fails to delight or entertain is that its story and characters are not interesting. If DuVernay’s characters portrayed the motivations and values exemplified in L’Engle’s novel, the movie’s story would be engaging.

L’Engle’s work has open and constant references to Christianity and the spiritual struggle of fighting darkness with light. For example, there is a moment in L’Engle’s novel where the three Mrs. W’s present Meg with gifts. Each of these gifts is a direct reference to Paul’s writings about how the greatest thing a person can do is love another and love themselves (1 Corinthians 13). Mrs. Who gives Meg the gift of the word of God reciting, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV). In DuVernay’s movie Mrs. Who gives Meg magical glasses, which  Meg received earlier in L’Engle’s original story. Mrs. Who does not recite any scripture or literary works for Meg. In addition to this, Mrs. Whatsit gives Meg the gift of her  faults. L’Engle may interpret this as Mrs. Whatsit stating that Meg should accept her sinful nature and be proud of it.

Even though love is not strongly mentioned in this movie, Meg still defeats darkness with the power of love. The lines in this movie’s climax that Meg recites are taken from L’Engle’s novel. These words are about the value of loving one another, but the message Meg gives using these words focuses on self righteous love. Meg’s character may be founded on L’Engle’s words and values, but her movie persona does not relay L’Engle’s original message.

The movie never focuses on the Christian love illustrated in L’Engle’s novel. As the movie’s message, accept your darkness and believe in yourself, does not coincide with the movie’s depiction of values, fight darkness with love and rely on others, it makes DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” feel like a forced story. The story being told does not match the plot points chosen for it, as those plot points are from another work with a different intent.

The screenwriters tried to make the movie tell their message, but the story resists this adaptation. Since this movie’s creatures, characters and story are being forced to be something they are not, Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” is a jumbled mess that does not captivate or inspire its audience members.

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