I was looking forward to seeing Hollywood's take on A Wrinkle In Time
. I have fond memories of reading the book in childhood, one of the first overtly science-fictiony books to cross my young horizons, and with a female protagonist, no less!
Of course, the big (or little) screen never tells the story the way you read it; some things can't be staged or CG'd -- fewer and fewer, these days -- some casts don't offer much in the way of visual appeal or "star-worthy" roles, some stories for children are a bit preachy and some screenwriters and directors Just Don't Get It. (Exhibit A, Starship Troopers
.) Sometimes, Hollywood does get it right -- The Maltese Falcon
is as perfect an example of how to film a book as you will ever find, with one exception: Humphrey Bogart, wonderful in the role, doesn't look a thing like Dashiell Hammett's description of Sam Spade!* My expectations are never high; in the case of Madeleine L'Engle's classic, casting Oprah Winfrey meant the cinematic Mrs. Which was likely to be significantly different from her literary original. This is just the kind of thing that happens in the leap from book to screen; sometimes it's okay -- Jeremy Brett or Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes aren't quite the fellow from the stories but we recognize them readily enough -- and other times, you get Robert Downey, Jr.
Meg gets a makeover too, one I find entirely plausible for a young lady who frets over her unmanageable hair. This is what Hollywood does: unable to easily let you overhear a character's thoughts, they use shorthand, hints and cultural tropes. I expect it.
What I didn't expect was a frikkin' social justice (pro and con) war in the reviews. Reviewers all across the political spectrum use the not-100%-lily-white cast as a banner to wave, one direction or another, and get so tangled up in it that they're not telling me much about the film itself
. Look, it may or may not be carrying the weight of Hollywood's present preoccupations and that may be occasion for cheering or jeering, but that stuff is just background noise for the story
. Very few of the reviewers, perhaps dazzled by Ms. Winfrey, appear to have realized there's a story happening. Oh, I see "choppy" used a lot, but the book is choppy; that's essential to the narrative. And not a one of the reviewers has bothered to bring a child along and ask them about the movie, either. After reading reviews and looking at Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, I know a little more about human nature but I learned more about the film itself from the trailers.
Clearly, I'll have to go see it for myself.
* Seriously different: “He looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan.” ... “He was quite six feet tall. The steep rounded slope of his shoulders
made his body seem almost conical—no broader than it was thick.”