A Wrinkle in Time
5 out of 10
7 out of 10
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Rating: TV PG
Katie Stuart as Meg Murray
Gregory Smith as Calvin O'Keefe
David Dorfman as Charles Wallace Murray
Chris Potter as Dr Jack Murray
Kyle Secor as The Man With Red Eyes
Sean Cullen as Happy Medium
Thomas Chambers as Dennis Murray
Sarah-Jane Redmond as Dr Dana Murray
Kate Nelligan as Mrs. Which
Alison Elliott as Mrs. Who
Alfre Woodard as Mrs. Whatsit
Rare Interview With Famed Author Madeleine L'Engle
Behind-The-Scenes Cast Featurette
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 128 Minutes
The following is the text from the DVD cover:
"Madeleine L'Engle's best-selling and beloved Newbery Award-winning novel bursts to life in a spectacular family film that TV Guide calls "a charming and imaginative film." When astrophysicist Dr. Jack Murry disappears without a trace, his children, Meg and Charles Wallace, and neighbor Calvin O'Keefe embark on a cosmic quest to find him. Guided by Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, the children travel to a distant planet and encounter a society controlled by an evil force. They must trust themselves and one another if they are to rescue Dr. Murry and return home safely. Enjoy the nonstop excitement and adventure of A WRINKLE IN TIME, starring Academy Award®-nominated actress Alfre Woodard (1984 Best Supporting Actress, CROSS CREEK) and teen idol Gregory Smith from TV's EVERWOOD. It's an amazing journey your family will want to take over and over again."
This DVD is rated TV PG.
I read A Wrinkle In Time about…oh…25 years ago. However, I had forgotten almost everything about it. Watching it again on DVD, I kind of see why I didn't remember it. It's a bit boring. There are elements of Harry Potter, The Narnia Chronicles, and even 1984 in this story. However, the final result is only mildly entertaining.
A Wrinkle In Time changes in tone wildly throughout the story. It starts out much like Harry Potter. The children are all in the real world, but there are hints that there's something supernatural going on underneath. Eventually a bizarre magical individual swoops in and takes them off on a wild journey. It then turns into something like The Narnia Chronicles. The kids find themselves in a strange and beautiful alien world with all sorts of bizarre creatures. It then takes another abrupt turn and the characters find themselves in a world very much like that in 1984. The story takes a very dark and surreal tone at that point. Unfortunately, A Wrinkle In Time lacks the charm or wonder of those other stories (well, except for 1984). Instead you are subjected to vague lessons about love and hate, angels and devils, and science and religion. You are also pounded over the head with the idea that humans are great and remarkable beings, but you never exactly get a sense of why.
The effects in the film are a bit of a mixed bag. They are, of course, of TV quality so that bumps them down a notch right there. Mrs. Whatsit is a very interesting creature when in "pegasus" mode. The creature has iridescent wings and looks quite cool from a distance. However, when the camera is close up on the character, it doesn't look very good. The backgrounds for the planets and space, though, are quite impressive. One particularly bad makeup effect is an alien character that looks like a blind Wookiee. While I'm sure the character looks exactly as described in the book, it looks terrible on screen.
The kid actors in the film are pretty good. Leading the cast is Katie Stuart as Meg Murray. You may remember her as Kitty Pride in X-Men 2. She's cute and she gets across the emotional turmoil of her character well. It will be interesting to see what she does as an actress in the future. David Dorfman is also good as Charles Wallace Murray. He played the kid in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He seems mature beyond his years and he's a good dramatic actor. Gregory Smith rounds out the principal cast as Calvin O'Keefe. He's good at being a romantic interest for Meg, but he never really drives the story.
I can't say how faithful A Wrinkle In Time is to the original novel, but I have to say that the final product isn't that interesting. It has good acting and occasionally decent effects, but the story isn't engaging enough to keep my attention for long.
There are three bonus features included on this DVD:
Rare Interview With Famed Author Madeleine L'Engle – This video features the author of A Wrinkle In Time. She talks about how she got the idea for the story, how she got it published, and her thinking behind various aspects of the book. She points out a lot of the symbolism and subtle themes she was trying to get across as well. It's nice to have it pointed out in case you missed it in the film. L'Engle also talks about modern publishing and how she'd have problems getting books published today without the fame of A Wrinkle In Time. All in all it's an interesting interview.
Behind-The-Scenes Cast Featurette – This is your standard behind-the-scenes featurette that shows interviews with the cast and crew, shows footage of the making of the movie, and more. They have some interesting stories about the casting process and how they found the kids.
Deleted Scenes – There are a handful of deleted scenes included, but they all seem to center around two things. The first is a lot of footage that sets up how Meg's father figured out time/space travel and how he and his research partner were spirited away. It leaves more questions than answers, but it reveals that the evil "Man With Red Eyes" was also Mr. Murray's research partner. It also reveals that Mr. Murray knew Calvin before they all went on their adventure. The removal of this scene puts a bit more magic and mystery in the story and removes a number of the plot holes that would have otherwise been present. Other scenes show Meg griping at Calvin a bit more. This makes her character seem a bit more negative and it makes you wonder why Calvin would be interested in her. Again, a good cut. Another deleted scene shows Ms. Whatsit and the other angels testing the three children in preparation for the conflict. Calvin is asked to solve a labyrinth, Meg is asked to stare in a pond, and Charles Wallace is asked to topple a rock. How will they all fit together? If you liked the film then you'll enjoy the deleted scenes since they expand on the characters a little more.
The Bottom Line:
I would only recommend this DVD to fans of the book. Harry Potter and Narnia Chronicles fans might also get a kick out of it, but they might also find it a bit less exciting.