A Wrinkle in Time: Emotional, Evocative and Totally Unexpected

Why is Ava DuVernay’s ‘Wrinkle in Time’ so stunning and surprisingly evocative? DENNIS D. MCDONALD reviews. [review]

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aNewDomain — For a kid’s movie, it’s worth mentioning that Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is at times pretty terrifying.

It’s also magical, curious, emotional, sentimental, thrilling and full of curiosities.

That’s a lot of emotional mind-tripping for a kids’ movie based on a kids’ book, not to mention one that is produced by Disney. And the visuals are gorgeous.

For those of us jaded with formulaic Disney productions full of fart and burp jokes, this film is profoundly fresh and surprising.
The point is as again shown by the non-Disney animated films previewed before Wrinkle in  Time is that Disney films these days tend not to go for the easy fart and burp jokes. Disney and Pixar tend to aim higher and they tend to succeed compared with these other efforts.

Because they aren’t just the standard cute/sassy kids that populate so many films.

These kids are brave, intelligent and resolute. They’re at times goofy and funny, and at other times cruel. In other words, they’re much more lifelike and full than the stereotype mini-grownups we’ve come to expect and kind of ignore. The difference between these full characters and the flat ones Disney and other animated movie makers usually serve up is striking.

As for the plot, Storm Reid plays the adolescent who is the hero of our story. And then there are the witches. Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon ace the roles of the witches, but Reid easily outshines them. She is amazing.

The witches offer just the right mix of seriousness, charm and intelligence. They are such finely drawn characters.

My only gripe about this movie? Its length. It’s too short. It’s so packed with action and plot terms and all kind of visual splendor, it just left me wanting more.

Or maybe it felt too short because I never read the book.

Or maybe I just wanted to feel more of the raw, right on the surface feelings this work engenders: Love, regret, fear, doubt, jealousy, anger … they’re all there.

Regardless,  I really wanted the whole thing to slow down so I could really savor and explore these intricate characters.

The most amazing thing about the film, though, has to do with the way director Ava DuVernay manages to make you watch this film through the eyes of a child — that is, the child you once were.
That alone is an astounding directorial achievement, and one that alone is a good reason to watch this movie.

As I said earlier, some of the scenes are scary and may even seem nightmarish to younger children. Consider that before you bring yours. But it is a PG rated film, after all, and those little ones shouldn’t be there anywhere. Let them wait and see it when they can truly appreciate this rich experience.

That Disney invested in such a film and pulled it off so well is something it should be proud of the fact that even invested in such a film. If you have older kids or adolescents, take your kids to this film and watch it with them.

And if you don’t, see it anyway. Well done, Disney.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.

An earlier version of this review appeared in Dennis’ DCMCD site. Read it here.