Combustible Celluloid
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With: Katie Stuart, Gregory Smith, David Dorfman, Chris Potter, Kyle Secor, Sean Cullen, Sarah-Jane Redmond, Kate Nelligan, Alison Elliott, Alfre Woodard
Written by: Susan Shilliday, based on the novel by Madeleine L'Engle
Directed by: John Kent Harrison
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 128
Date: 03/18/2013

A Wrinkle in Time (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Caught in the Tesseract

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written by Susan Shilliday and directed by John Kent Harrison, this made-for-TV adaptation of the beloved young person's novel contemporizes many aspects, and thereby cheats it of its full mystery. Meg (Katie Stuart) is now a modern, confused teenage girl who can very well look up the word "tesseract" on the Internet. When Meg's father disappears for over a year, she begins to lose hope, until Mrs. Whatsit (Alfre Woodard) suddenly turns up and whisks her away to the other side of the universe, along with her highly intelligent little brother Charles Wallace (David Dorfman) and her school's top basketball player Calvin (Gregory Smith), who happens to have a brain and a sweet side. A full-fledged "Harry Potter"-style production set in the proper period might have done justice to this story, but the modern context and the lack of imagination bring it down a notch. When our travelers visit the "Happy Medium," one of the book's most delightful and bizarre characters, the show presents him like a children's birthday party clown, telling stupid jokes and laughing hysterically. Some of the cheap sets look like leftovers from Return to Oz. Other moments work, however, such as the children's arrival on the creepy Camizotz. The actors' chemistry is just right; Stuart and Smith are quite good as a down-to-earth Meg and Calvin, and Dorfman (Panic, The Ring) is a truly extraordinary young actor, and it's doubtful that this film could have worked without him.

DVD Details: DVD extras include an interview with L'Engle, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a series of horrible deleted scenes that surely would have had fans picketing and burning the set to the ground. (They include references to "Star Trek" and "Harry Potter" and a frustratingly ludicrous prologue that sets up the father's disappearance and the villain's relationship to him.)

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