I'm not familiar with Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle in Time, but I know a bunch of 11 year olds who are fond of the book, originally published in 1961.
Unfortunately, I didn't have them with me when I saw this film, just a younger sibling who was transfixed and is now keen to read the book - success!
What was immediately apparent was the struggle to balance over-the-top visual effects and simple, thoughtful dialogue discussing our role in the universe - it's clearly a hard book to adapt to the big screen.
Our three young heroes are instantly likeable; each possessing either real smarts or an otherworldly presence which makes them stand out from their peers. Meg Murray (Reid) is a young teen "delinquent"; at least that's the role she's taken on after her physicist father mysteriously disappeared while testing his time-travelling theories.
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Along with her bright younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and school friend Calvin (Levi Miller), she wrinkles her way through time, travelling the universe, searching for her father (Chris Pine). They're helped along the way by three warriors; Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey), who introduce them to "It", a force of evil in the Universe.
Witherspoon wins the day with humour and spirit. Winfrey, as a giant, takes longer to warm up, initially stiff and awkward as she looms over everyone, and Kaling does little more than recite famous, inspirational quotes - although her costuming is incredible.
The pacing is gentle, with perhaps too much time allocated to contemplation of messages about being yourself, accepting weaknesses and, in summary, basically being a good person. Thankfully there's enough action to revive us when required.
While A Wrinkle in Time isn't a cohesive film in pacing, performance or style, it is a special story, and director Ava DuVernay (Selma) avoids talking down to her intended audience. Meg is also a neat young female hero to admire; and we can always do with another one of those.
Cast: Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine
Director: Ava DuVernay
Running Time: 110 mins
Verdict: Incredible visual effects occasionally overwhelm this story's beauty.