When it comes to movies for the family, Disney has been the go-to studio since 1939 when it came out with its first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Needless to say the studio has gone from strength to strength, churning out memorable adaptations of classic tales. When comparing Disney classics from my childhood to those hitting cinemas today, it’s interesting to see just how much –and at the same time how little- the studio has changed.
A Wrinkle in Time is the latest adaptation to come from Disney and while it can’t hold a candle to Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, it’s not without its charm. The film tells the story of Meg Murray (Storm Reid) a young girl on the cusp of adolescence trying to find inner happiness. Since the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine) Meg has been different. Teased at school and overprotective of her younger brother (Deric McCabe) she has never let anyone get close to her. But that changes when three inter-dimensional beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller) on an adventure through the universe to rescue her father.
Based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle A Wrinkle in Time is a very pretty and very sweet film that serves perfectly as a family night out. Directed by Ava DuVernay it’s a beautiful coming-of-age story about inner strength and the power of love. While this sounds saccharinely sweet – and it totally is- DuVernay’s balanced release of the film’s morals succeeds in delivering the expected feels: warmth, happiness, and tears of a classic Disney film. Aesthetically it’s gorgeous and a major achievement for everyone in the departments of lighting, cinematography, makeup, costumes, and art design. The entire film is a visual feast made up of nothing but dessert and is wholly immersive, making for an engaging and enjoyable voyeuristic experience.
But where the movie really shines is in the performances of its actors. The three kids are incredible, delivering performances that stand solidly alongside –and even challenge- some of the more seasoned actors.
But having said this it’s far from being a perfect film. In more than one place the story progression gets scratchy and unpolished and there are times when I stopped and thought that there has not been enough challenges or exciting events to properly change the characters and help them grow. From this angle the film is a little one-sided: tilting towards the showcase and spectacle of lighting, costumes, and computer wizardry without being balanced by the writing. But as it achieves emotional responses from the audience and creates a generally positive movie experience, this is not the end of the world.
The clincher is that the emotion and investment that everyone poured into A Wrinkle in Time is felt wholeheartedly throughout the film and that’s what gives it its immersive and emotional edge.