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is largely faithful to the book, sometimes in delightful ways only super fans will notice — Meg's bedroom is still in the attic, for example, and the kids meet Mrs.Whatsit on a "dark and stormy night," in a nod to the book's opening sentence.
This is made impressive more by the characters' reactions than to anything that's onscreen.
It also suffers from trying to do too much in its relatively slight 109-minute running time (the source novel Madeline L'Engle has been considered un-adaptable since its first publication in 1962, so it's possible that even a miniseries might've had issues; the 2003 TV movie was a train wreck).
"A Wrinkle in Time" arrives in theaters during the same week that U. viewers observed the 50th anniversary of the premiere of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," a beloved series that was all about respecting the space, the wishes, and the feelings of others.
There are many points in "A Wrinkle in Time" where the characters' journeys suggest a big-budget CGI version of that show's regular excursions into "The Neighborhood of Make-Believe," a world in which kindhearted children and adults have poker-faced conversations about insecurity, loneliness, anger, and other mental states openly, amongst themselves and with sock puppets, then return to the "real" world and watch a musical performance or visit a harmonica factory. Whatsit just shows up in the family's house, less like a real-life neighbor than a scatterbrained wood sprite from a Disney Channel cartoon, and the mom is the only character who seems shocked. Which is a 40-foot tall shimmering apparition looming over a backyard during her first appearance, and the onlookers seem more intrigued than terrified by her, as if this kind of thing happens a lot.
The film's tone is so radically earnest at certain points—particularly when it's dealing with loss and disappointment—that the movie's logo could be a gigantic ear of corn.
In its multicultural casting, its child-centric story, and its emphasis on the validity of feelings, it's so different from every other recent big-budget live-action fantasy (superhero films included) that its very existence amounts to a contrarian statement.
"A Wrinkle In Time," about three children and three magical beings trying to locate a missing physicist and stop evil from overwhelming the universe, is as dislocated from the current moviegoing moment as its human heroes are from their lives back on earth.
It's a gentle fantasy, seemingly pitched at younger children, that would rather take people by the hand than punch them on the shoulder, and that's a good thing; in fact, it's the wellspring of the movie's best qualities.
Like the rest of the core cast, he's doing old-movie style, just-plant-your-feet-and-say-the-lines acting that seems to be pretending that the Method never happened.
Reid in particular is quite good at this; some of the notes she strikes early on reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet" in their near-theatricality, but in a scene with Pine near the end, the facade drops, and it's devastating.