This review is late. Very late. But I found this draft, and better late than never. Here goes.
I read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid. Loved it then, love it now. I did not even think about strong female hero. I saw a flawed heroic geek. I was (and still am) a geek. I think that geeky angry Meg planted a seed or two for my geeky angry character Super Holly Hansson. What did I think of the movie?
What I liked
Meg. Geek girl with a hot temper! I think Holly has some Meg in her.
Charles Wallace. Super smart little boy, with a proper hint of creepiness at being way too smart.
Oprah, when she was HUGE. That size difference make Mrs. Which stand out in the movie. In the book, she has no set physical appearance.
It. A giant brain, as done in the book, would not work in a movie. Well, it might have worked in the 1960s. In this movie, It is a nasty space-spanning web that looks a lot like neurons in a brain. Clever!
What I did not like
The movie story felt rushed and underdeveloped. Meg is introduced, shown to be hot-tempered and geeky smart, she meets the immortal ladies, and then it’s WHEEE, let’s find Daddy! And how long did it take for Charles to be seduced by the dark side, several seconds of multiplication tables? We needed to see, as in the book, Charles falling into evil due to his own arrogance.
Aunt Beast was cut out. In the book, that was a necessary scene for Meg’s development: when she first meets and escapes from It, her flaws are showcased! And she has to face them down. In the book, the line, “I give you your faults” gave Meg her best comeback: “But I’ve been trying to get rid of them for years!” In the movie, the line went over like a lead balloon and Meg had no comeback. If they could turn The Hobbit into a trilogy, they could have added time for a big furry auntie.
Meg’s flaws were mostly removed. In the book, she is stubborn, she yells at her dad in a soul-stabbing hurtful way, her emotions are as stable as nitro glycerine, you do not insult her brother Charles if you want to chew your dinner afterwards, and she is a strident non-conformist (okay, that last one is kind of a good thing). In the movie, she’s tough. So tough that she does not need Aunt Beast or her dad, and she does not make up with her dad because she never hurts him in the first place. Movie Meg is more mature than her dad, didn’t the scriptwriter ever watch Leave It To Beaver? When Meg lands on Camazotz again, I wonder if they should have played the James Bond theme. Leave the super competent hero role to Sean Connery, I loved Book Meg as a flawed geek. (Hmm, is James Bond a Mary Sue?) I was and still am a geek, and proud of it, man! Yes, non-conformist Super Holly has lotsa Meg in her!
Calvin. His rough edges were sanded off. Sure, as in the book, he fell for Meg, which was great. But in the book, he also conflicted with her: he wanted to protect her (which she did not want) and he yelled back at her and about her: “She’s backward!” When I write my characters Super Holly (hot tempered super geek) and Cal Critbert (more mature super-intellectual), they argue, they fight, and they stay head-over-heels in love. When you have different personality types, you get conflict. There was NONE, ZERO, ZIP between Meg and Calvin. BIG disappointment.
“Be a warrior.” That did not belong in this story. Meg is a geek girl, not a soldier. Lisa Simpson does not need a catchphrase, and neither does Meg.
The immortal ladies were too glamorous. Oprah lost her otherworldliness when she became human size. She should have been big and then small, never hitting the correct size. They coulda done a Tinkerbell joke! In the book, one lady was old, one was plump, one was formless. In the movie, they were Disney fairies.
The religious element was toned way down. Jesus, Buddha, others were mentioned in the book. Not here. I have been wondering about my novel “The Comic Book Code” (Stewie Griffin: “How’s that novel coming along, HMMMM?”). Specifically, should I back away from the Holy Grail thing? (Holly having Grail-type DNA, thus bringing superpowers into the world). I do love the line in Captain America when the Red Skull asks Cap, “What makes you so special,” and Cap says, “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” But Holly grew out of my trying to write a satire of The DaVinci Code. I’m considering a dream sequence with a Jesus-and-Mary type couple (the guy looks like Wil Wheaton). I say to this movie: Thanks for making up my mind for me! I ain’t backing off. (P.S. Cal Critbert is atheist, and I ain’t backing off from that either, you Trumpy evangelical traitors! Nyah nyah nyah!)
What I did not care about
The actress being African American. Meg’s skin color was irrelevant. She was played by a fine actress, doing the best job she could with a flawed script. I liked her. I know this casting bent some racists out of shape, and thoughts like that keep me warm at night. But me? Like Stephen Colbert said in his Colbert Report days, I don’t see color!
This movie is a huge improvement on the 2003 version. But flaws make characters interesting. Disney, wait several years and try again, and PLEASE keep Meg’s flaws next time. Like Super Holly, Meg is an angry and flawed geek, not a Mary Sue!