‘A Wrinkle in Time’ a solid, if imperfect, adaptation

This image released by Disney shows Oprah Winfrey, left, and Storm Reid in a scene from "A Wrinkle In Time." (Atsushi Nishijima/Disney via AP)

Well, it was never going to be as good as the book.

While there are a few well-known examples of movies that surpassed their books, the general rule is that a film will never be as good as the book on which it’s based. This is definitely true of “A Wrinkle in Time,” Ava DuVernay’s big-budget adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel.

Still, with all of its flaws — most of which come from the fact that the novel was basically unadaptable to begin with — “A Wrinkle in Time” is an exciting, visually stunning, and well-acted adaptation.

“A Wrinkle in Time” follows Meg Murray (Storm Reid), a 13-year-old girl who sets out with her brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), friend Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller), and three magical beings, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), to save her theoretical physicist father, Alex (Chris Pine), who disappeared four years before.

A lot is left out of this adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time.” DuVernay did a good job of cutting out a lot of the unnecessary scenes while keeping a general flavor for the progress of the book’s plot. As a huge fan of the book, I was sad to miss out on the planet of Ixchel, where Aunt Beast lives, and I noticed that Meg’s twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, didn’t make the cut. But there were other moments, like the children playing on the planet of Camazotz, that were exactly the way I had envisioned them.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is really an adventure movie made for children and teens, and has both the faults and the highlights that go with that particular genre. It is a little over-the-top, sometimes treacly, and, at times, almost achingly preachy. But, then again, the book isn’t exactly subtle, either. But while there are moments that could be toned down, there’s an earnestness that I found refreshing in a scary, snarky world.

It probably helps that “A Wrinkle in Time” is very, very well-acted. Storm Reid is an absolute gem as Meg — smart and sassy, but also awkward and angry. Deric McCabe is one of the most adorable children I have ever seen, and was wonderful as the hyperverbal, incredibly intelligent little Charles Wallace. Not every child actor could embody such a precocious character so well. And Chris Pine, while not in the movie as much, made an impact in every scene he was in. There is one particular scene between Pine and Reid that is so wonderfully emotional that I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed.

The film is also gorgeous, with stunning visuals. DuVernay probably spends just a smidge too much time showing off the landscape instead of moving the plot forward but, again, a big chunk of the book is dedicated to spending time on planets on their way to their final destination. In the realm of visuals, I also loved the stunning costumes and makeup on Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which. Oprah’s glittery face is worth the price of admission on its own.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is imperfect, but I couldn’t help but love it. It’s earnestly joyful and relentlessly hopeful, which is both a breath of fresh air and a moral we desperately need. Leave your cynical side at the door and enjoy.

Jenny’s Take: See it before it leaves theaters.

Jenny Kobiela-Mondor writes movie reviews for KPC Media Group. Her columns are posted at kpcnews.com/opinion/columnists. A link to her blog can be found from her columns at kpcnews.com. She blogs at jenandkel poptarts.blogspot.com.

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