A Wrinkle in Time 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Full disclosure; I have never read the book ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle and to be completely honest, I had never even heard of the book until I read the news that Ava DuVernay had signed on to direct the film adaptation for Disney. So I don’t know how faithful the book is to the movie or if the book adds any insight that might make the movie more enjoyable. But the fact remains that if you have to read a book to enjoy the movie, then the movie isn’t very good. And such is the case with A WRINKLE IN TIME, which sets up a very complex, fascinating fantasy world, only to brush over that exciting world and lose sight of the larger story.
Years before we meet up with Meg (Storm Reid), her physicist father (Chris Pine) gets sucked into a dimensional vortex of sorts. Struggling to cope without her father, Meg is now a bitter preteen that lacks confidence and friends, until her younger brother Charles (Deric McCabe) introduces her to Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon). Mrs. Whatsit, the first of three…entities (it’s not really clear what they are or what their purpose is, the first of many ambiguities I’m sure the book clears up) of sorts that watches over the universe. We learn that they are beacons of light they’re all buddies with Charles, which is again something that doesn’t make much sense. But they apparently need Meg to find her father because her father is a “good” warrior that can help fight darkness. And at this point, it’s clear that the movie’s purpose is to lift Meg up and help her overcome whatever insecurities she’s fighting and not really dive into this complex world or situation.
Oprah is Mrs. Which, who plays the wise old mother figure for Meg, even though Meg has a mother that apparently can’t be bothered to help her daughter. Calvin (Levi Miller) accompanies Meg on her mission and he’s the cute, popular boy at school that serves to convince meg she’s actually very pretty, even if she doesn’t realize it. At some point in the film, Meg is reunited with her father and together they have to save Calvin. But the father makes an inexplicable cowardly choice, leaving Meg to find the strength on her own to save her brother. I’m not sure how making the father a coward is the best way to make Meg a hero, but that’s par for the course in A WRINKLE IN TIME; every character is there to lift Meg up and a lot of storytelling is sacrificed to do so.
Most of the best children’s adventure films thrust kids on a journey that inadvertently teaches them a lesson or allows them to overcome some negative trait about themselves. Until A WRINKLE IN TIME, I had never really thought much about how that lesson is obtained. That’s because I’ve never seen it so over the top as I have in A WRINKLE IN TIME. The adventure Meg was on was fascinating when you think about it; she’s traveling to another dimension to find her father. THAT is the story. Along the way, she can learn that she’s beautiful and strong, but there’s no reason to have Mrs. Which, Calvin or anyone else verbalize it to her. That’s an insult to the audience and to the story.
As for the adventure side of things, it felt like as soon as Meg went through the portal, the filmmakers didn’t know what to do with it. This vast, beautiful world was presented to them and apart from a weird ride on a flying dragon-Whatsit, we never got to explore the world. It was very obvious that director Ava DuVernay felt more comfortable exploring Meg at home or at school (which were the highlights of the film) than she did having Meg in a fantasy world. The result is a world and an idea that never got explored, which was disappointing given the opportunity.
Despite my criticisms, A WRINKLE IN TIME is not a bad movie. If anything, a movie featuring a minority child actress is something that’s long overdue and needed now more than ever. And the message is good for anyone just now starting to watch fantasy movies involving children. But for those of us that have seen a lot of these kinds of movies before, A WRINKLE IN TIME doesn’t stack up and ends up wasting some interesting ideas.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: For all its faults, A WRINKLE IN TIME is a visual spectacle that utilizes a wide range of colors that has to be viewed in 4K UHD. The Blu-ray is great in its own right, but the UHD takes things to a new level, presumably closer to director Ava DuVernay’s original vision. Aside from the improvements in settings and landscapes, the costumes and closeups really display an increase in detail and color depth, giving the film more life. Even in the darker scenes, such as the scene where Meg and her father reunite, have more detail and look much better. This is a great looking 4K video presentation and a significant upgrade over the Blu-ray.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is a also nice upgrade over the DTS track on the Blu-ray. I expected a more robust audio track given the film, but when it does utilize the Atmos speakers, it does so effectively.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does come with a Blu-ray, which has the following special features:
Commentary with Ava DuVernay, Michael Moore, Richard McBride, Jennifer Lee, Jim Whitaker, Spener Averick and Naomi Shohan: Seven people in a single commentary is a lot, but they offer a very engaging commentary track that covers every making-of topic you can think of. The downside is you’re going to lose track of who is saying what, but it’s well worth the listen for fans of the film.
Deleted Scenes (9:35): Four total scenes that are actually pretty decent. The brief scene with Calvin’s dad was a bit of a tear-jerker for me and there’s a scene here that explores that a little closer.
A Journey Through Time (30:30): For those that don’t want to sit through the commentary, this thirty minute featurette gives a nice overview into the making of the film.