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 with... more »out 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(R)-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.« less
Erin D. (END10381) from CLEVELAND, OH Reviewed on 8/24/2013...
Not as good as the book, but still highly enjoyable! :)
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Much better than expected (minor spoilers)
Mr. Boy | Royal Oak, MI USA | 10/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had great fear when I heard that Disney was planning on making a TV Miniseries out of the classic "A Wrinkle In Time," because I knew just how awful most Disney TV movies are, and just how many liberties they would try to take for the sake of a TV audience. When ABC continued to postpone the airing of "Wrinkle" for almost two full years, I had even greater fear, because, more often than not, the reason for a very long delay in release is because the product is nigh-to-worthless. When I heard that the original 4-hour Miniseries plan was cut down to a 3-hour movie, that fear doubled. And then, ABC announced it would air beginning at 8pm, when most kids wouldn't be able to stay awake for the whole thing. All of this didn't bode well, and gave me the feeling that ABC didn't want anyone to see this movie.
After all is said-and-done, "A Wrinkle In Time" greatly exceeded my expectations. Sure, liberties were taken, but the majority of the items that were changed for the film were changed in a logical fashion, and would only be cited by die-hard L'Engleites.
- The casting. They didn't go for the pre-fabricated Hollywood ideal. Meg is pretty, but not a stunning supermodel with huge "assets." Calvin is kinda weird-looking. Charles-Wallace is a cute kid, but gives off an unexpected creepiness. And, despite my initial reservations, Alfre Woodard didn't annoy me at all.
- The acting. Top notch performances from all. Meg and Calvin had all of the chemistry and depth that the book demanded. Charles-Wallace, while occasionally slipping into cheese-mode, gave one of the creepiest performances I've seen since the original "Bad Seed."
- The set design. Specifically, the Murray house, and the planet Camazotz. Both were exactly what I had pictured when reading the book, and in my own screenplay adaptation attempts. The long streets lined with precise, grey tract housing was especially dead-on to my own vision.
- The cinematography. Jon Joffin, you deserve a cigar. Finally, a TV movie that isn't completely flat! There's shadow, depth, and mood dripping off of nearly every scene in this film. But, what more do you expect from the man who lit "Home," by far one of the creepiest and darkest episodes of "The X-Files." Kudos specifically to Meg's arrival on Camazotz, lit only by a slight backlight and lightning flashes. Fantastic work.
- The score. Great work by Jeff Danna, who also wrote the moody, diverse score for "Boondock Saints." (His brother is Mychael Danna, of "The Ice Storm" and "The Sweet Hereafter.") Of course, I do feel there were missteps, particularly the occasionally cartoony incidentals, but on the themes and backgrounds had a mood and depth that echoed the feelings exemplified in the book.
- The teleplay. Susan Shilliday certainly did change quite a few things, but the most important aspect remained, and that is the spirit of the book. The film displays the same sense of wonder and purpose that L'Engle infused into her novel. That, coupled with some well-placed snarky humor, made this adaptation one of the better ones I've seen.
- The very end. Call me whatever you want, but, I never cared for the end of the book. Sure it's creepy, but it's ridiculously sudden. The movie wrapped things up nicely while still providing a necessary bridge toward the book's sequels.
- The Happy Medium. Egad, what a horrible decision that was. Please, next time, make sure characters are laughing at things that are actually funny.
- The visual effects. Granted, it's a TV budget. And granted, the effects are probably over a year old now. But still, it could've been much better. The winged horse was laughable, the landscapes were plastic, and "IT" was... well, not very much at all, was it? I did like the Tesseract effects, though I think that the film dwelled on too many of them. The final Tesseract effect was fantastic, and obviously the one that the most money was spent on. If more effects looked like that, I'd be happier.
- "IT." This was one change that really bothered me. Those of us who read the book know exactly what "IT" is, and showing such obscure sections of "IT," and having the climactic battle with IT's representative rather than IT itself, I feel, was a poor choice.
- The direction. Sometimes, the film was very well-done. At other times, the direction was very clumsy and confusing. This could be attributed to how much had to be cut out of the 4-hour version to fit into its 3-hour timeslot, but nonetheless, there were some scenes that just didn't work at all.
All-in-all, "A Wrinkle In Time" is a very enjoyable film, and, despite a few wrong turns, is a good adaptation of a great work of literature.
As an aside, Amazon does list the wrong running time for this item. According to Disney's official site for the DVD, the running time is 128 Minutes."
A Wrinkle in Time highly compelling
M. Salinas | Dallas, TX | 09/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Flawed, but far from awful (which is what many readers of the beloved novel feared), this adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 `A Wrinkle in Time' is highly compelling. I suspect this may have been a labor of love for director John Kent Harrison.
This film still retains much of the books sense of wonder and philosophy. The characters, plot and milestones are all still here, and as a blueprint the movie follows the book faithfully. Even some of the books famous lines "Wild nights are my glory", "By the way there is such a thing as a teserract", and "We are here" remain. Many scenes and locales vary and shift, and screenplay writer Susan Shilliday invents some L'Engle-esque touches of her own (flower storms, glow worms, ect.) Her dialogue is also quite different; it's much subtler though sometimes a bit awkward.
If you are one of those people who look to a literary film adaptation to be a letter-by-letter recount of the book then you'll probably hate this film. And if you're the kind of literary stickler that gets into the whole minutia of hair color I can only further urge you to stay away. It's NOT the book; it's a film and an updated re-imagining and re-invention of the story in a different medium. I found the changes compelling, but others may find them more than they can bear.
The book is and always will be a classic, a revelation and a pioneering milestone in the field of great children's literature. Like the works of JK Rowling and CS Lewis, Mrs. L'Engle's gorgeous and superior series will always be near and dear and untainted by ANY film version good or bad. Their written words have and WILL always stand the test of time. I doubt this film has the power to ever change that.
Moving on. In this adaptation all of the actors are relatively faithful to their literary counterparts. David Dorfman has a wonderfully delicate touch as Charles Wallace, and he's especially effective in his mind control scenes. He has great skill in allowing us to see both rage and indifference- sometimes in the same sentence! Gregory Smith is a far move handsome Calvin that I would have imagined, but he finds his own unique way to the character with deadpan humor.
The biggest acting burden falls on the shoulders of Katie Stuart- her Meg has been re-imagined as an introspective tomboy (I kept thinking of a gentler Nancy McKeon from `The Facts of Life'). Her performance serves this movie well, though it sometimes conflicts with the occasional reference to Meg's passion or impatience which isn't always apparent acting wise.
Alfrie Woodard, Alison Elliot and Kate Nelligan do fine as the three Miss W's, thank you. They achieve an otherworldly manor with great human zeal.
Rounding out the principles are Chris Potter and Sarah Jane Redmond as Jack and Dana Murry. A minor gripe is in this detail- if the screenwriter had read 'An Acceptable Time' she would have discovered their REAL names are Alex and Kate.
Yeah, okay. Sometimes I can be a literary stickler too. So there.
Actually my biggest gripe about the film is the whole sequence on planet Lxchel; clunky editing aside, the new ideas writer Shilliday impose simply fall flat here.
The two trips to Camazotz might be the most radically re-written aspect of the film. The planet has been visually reimagined as a dark George Orwell 1984 kind of society. And the marvelous work of sound designer Kris Fenske creates an impressively oppressive rhythm for this place not unlike earth. This time the sheer LOOK of the planet is just as scary as its principals and ideals.
If you're going to update a book written in 1962 you HAVE to make some translative choices to reflect both contemporary setting and sensibility. "A oversize brain- just larger enough than normal to be completely revolting" on a dais simply doesn't have the impact it once had in 1962. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but what the film does instead works quite well.
However, I will divulge that the role of The Man with Red Eyes has been beefed up. He's deliciously played with dark comic sensibility by Kyle Secor. Another nice touch.
The visual effects occasionally disappoint, and you'll immediately spot the poor ones when you see them. However a special mention must be given to the effects provided for the tesseract. These sequences do not disappoint. They astound. The three children and Miss Whatsit clutch hands on the Star Gazing Rock. Suddenly Misses Whatsit transforms into her purest self: a mass of light and energy. Meg looks at her and Misses Whatsit looks right back with eyes peering through her transparent, organic form. Then the earth falls bellow their feet, the landscape flattens and waves of energy and matter course though them in visual sheets. They are tessering, and all to the glory of Patric Caird and Jeff Dana's ethereal score. This brought me to tears.
A blink and you might miss it moment also happens here: Charles Wallace, ever so briefly, sees the model of the tesseract in the skyscape. A glorious touch, and a touching gesture to the fans of this book.
I suspect this was held off the airwaves for nearly two years NOT because of quality but because of content- this story makes some strong demands on young readers, and as a movie it makes equally tough demands. The last half of the film is indeed dark-which probably made The Wonderful World of Disney a little nervous in its apprehension in airing this on TV. Too bad. Only through great darkness can the light of day be truly appreciated, and I think most young viewers will find the journey most worthwhile.
Again though, not a perfect film but a highly recommended one nevertheless.
NOTES ON THE DVD EDITION...
`A Wrinkle in Time' was originally supposed to air as a four hour miniseries, but was cut down to a three hour allotted Sunday airing. Interestingly enough, the DVD release of 'A Wrinkle in Time' comes with a bonus of 18 minutes worth of these deleted scenes, featuring Charles Murry at work in his lab with a new character called Hank (again played by Mr. Secor, who'll eventually become The Man With Red Eyes.) Some lovely scenes in a maze, additional scenes on Lxchel and (YES!) a couple of noteworthy moments where Meg has some harsher outbursts (which was an initial problem I had with Katie Stuart's performance as directed.)
The DVD also include a brief but profound interview with Mrs. L'Engle discussing getting `A Wrinkle in Time' published and some of the personal impacts her tale has since had. It's very powerful, and worth looking into.
I must confess, I too am baffled by that DVD cover art. Is that, like, The Wonderful World of Disney castle they're flying over? Yikes! "
Terrible movie.. save your money and buy the book instead.
michele moran | Waterbury, CT USA | 10/26/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Madeleine L'Engle is, without a doubt, one of the most prolific writers of our time. A Wrinkle In Time is probably considered her finest work. This movie has turned it into a low-budget mess.
I sat in my home and watched it with hopeful eyes, and all but cried during the entire movie for the sheer tragedy of it all.
I believe Madeleine L'Engle, in a Newsweek article dated May 7, 2004, sums up the movie in the best way possible:
NEWSWEEK: So you've seen the movie? Madeleine L'Engle: I've glimpsed it.
And did it meet expectations? Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is."
It's a keeper!
K. Richards | USA | 03/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I could go into full detail about how this movie compared to the book. I won't. I saw it for what it was, a movie. I've been curious for a long time about it, so I bought it and watched it with my family. Instead of my husband and I taking our kids to the movies, we bought this hoping it would be good.
I was curious about what other members thought of this film and after watching the movie I'm saddened to see that those who put it down and called it awful missed the points. It's not about crystal balls or witchcraft, though don't even get me started because The Wizard of Oz is a beloved classic and has those same features!! This story had a heart. It was about acceptance of one's self, about not assuming things about others, about love for your family, about judgement, about believing children come into this world with gifts we as grown ups take for granted. I saw my kids in this movie. I grew a little more as a person watching it.
I am perhaps someone who is different from others. When I go to see a movie, I don't just go and see if for entertainment. I see it hoping to learn something new about myself. Life is full of lessons and I try not to miss them.
I am saddened by those parents that said they'd never let their kids see this movie. It means as a society we have not become any more open minded. If you want to say the movie is not as good as the book I can accept that. But for it's content, nah. I thought it was beautiful. Best of all, so did my kids.
Deserves A Better Treatment
K. Fontenot | The Bayou State | 12/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Before there was Harry Potter and Lemony Snickett, there was Meg, Calvin, and little Charles Wallace. "A Wrinkle In Time" was the beginning of one of the best fantasies for older children and, yes, even adults. This film based on the first book in the fantasy is okay, but I feel as if the entire series was cheated when compared to such juggernauts as Potter and Lemony. I enjoy the Potter films and books as much as anyone, but I think that more attention should have been paid to "A Wrinkle In Time." Not only was it the first "big" book that I ever read, it was also the first fantasy that I had ever read. I fell in love with it immediately and it encouraged me to read even more books. A couple of years ago, at the age of twenty-six, I read "Wrinkle" again, because I loved it so much.
Alfre Woodard is great as Ms. Whatsit, and Who and Which are also excellent. The little boy chosen to play Charles Wallace was fantastic, he looked really creepy when It took over him. The rest of the cast is superb as well, but that isn't where my complaint lies.
My complaint is with the production. When the children travel throught the tesseract, fly on Ms. Whatsit, meet the Happy Medium, etc., the production looks like something off of Sci-Fi channel. Also, something is lost in the translation to the screen, and the story comes off slow, plodding, and uninteresting at times. Money is always an issue with films of this sort, but you'd think that Disney would have plunked down a little more dough on this picture. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Instead, the actors are forced to drudge along through the story in an attempt to make the best of what they've been given.
Hopefully someone will come along and give this brilliant story the proper treatment it deserves. It triggered the imaginations of many generations, and it should be given the same care and respect as Potter, Snickett, and all of the others that I'm sure will come along.
Three stars go to the actors in this film. They do a brilliant job given the fact that they had so little to work with. I recommend this one with reservations. It's fun to finally see some great childhood heroes on the screen, but I just wish they would have been treated better. Read the book first, then watch this movie."