Director Ava DuVernay's newest endeavor, "A Wrinkle in Time," takes a departure from her usual, heavy, historical-based topics — "Selma" followed the Montgomery, Ala., voting rights marches and "13th" covered the 13th amendment — and embarks on a magical journey filled with beauty, love and a young girl's strength and courage.
This departure just might be what audiences are in need of given the darkness of world events that surround us.
DuVernay interprets author Madeleine L'Engle's novel "A Wrinkle in Time," staring the young Storm Reid as Meg, a precocious young girl whose parents are prolific astrophysicists, breaking boundaries and bending minds in new directions. She's joined by a powerful supporting cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling ("The Office"), Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw ("Doctor Who") and Levi Miller ("Pan"), plus recent newcomer to the screen Deric McCabe.
When Meg's father (Pine) disappears into thin air and is missing for four years, little brother Charles (McCabe) prompts the three guardians of the galaxy to visit and lead them into worlds far beyond, in the hopes of finding their father.
Meg has her own issues at school with self-confidence and a bully living next door. She even finds strength and hope in young-love Calvin (Miller). But at the center of the film — found in the midst of suspended belief and space travel — is family.
The story is visually stunning, taking place in vibrant lands where tulips become talking butterflies — but good can be overshadowed quickly by evil.
The special effects take the viewer to some rather dark and scary places, which perhaps will be a little nightmarish for younger viewers. Make-up and costuming find the spotlight as the three guides, Red (Michael Pena) and the voice of David Oyelowo give life to "It," the darkness within us all.
Reid steals the show, finding a way for even this 50-something viewer to reminisce about times long gone. It's no doubt that her character will resonate with youngsters, as will her adorable and, at times, ferocious little brother.
The three guides, Mrs. Which (Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Kaling), impart words of wisdom while mesmerizing with their appearance, wardrobe and transformation. And, of course, their rather strong personalities shine through.
It's refreshing to see a young girl lead and a predominantly female cast made up of many different ethnicities, making this a magical movie with an uplifting message. It teaches us all to find love and light within ourselves.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.