Warning: Contains crucial plot elements for A Wrinkle in Time.
The trailer for Ava Duvernay's upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time is a colorful, two-and-a-half-minute long blast. And it's also not giving any of the movie's secrets away. Walking away from the trailer, you'd think the movie was about a trio of mystical women from the Capital in The Hunger Games, a trio of kids with a better understanding of physics than you'll ever have, and a flying space manta ray.
That impression would not be entirely false. Luckily, since A Wrinkle in Time is based on Madeline L'Engle's 1962 children's book, we don't have to rely on the trailer's crumbs for predicting the movie's plot. We can turn to the book, too.
L'Engle's novel tells the story of Meg Murry, played by Storm Reid in the movie, a high school girl whose problems are not of the typical high school girl variety. A year earlier, her father (Chris Pine), a noted physicist, disappeared on a mission, leaving Meg, her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and her brilliant six-year-old brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) on their own.
One day, a mysterious stranger arrives to knock the Murry family out of their mopey complacency (think a Hagrid-esque arrival). Her name is Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and she's here to recruit Meg and Charles Wallace on a mission across the universe to save their father. As Mrs. Whatsit and her two other celestial being comrades, Mrs. Which (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Who (Oprah), explain, they'll travel by way of tesseracts — the "wrinkles in time" mentioned in the book's title.
Here's the thing: Even with the help of tesseracts, the going won't be easy. The universe is threatened by a physical manifestation of evil, called the Dark Thing. The Dark Thing has already engulfed planets and stars — including the planet Camazotz, where Mr. Murry is being kept prisoner.
Eventually, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Meg's classmate, Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller), set off for Camazotz by way of tesseract. In the trailer, Camazotz is depicted as an aesthetically uniform community in which everyone's actions are timed to the same internal clock.
That internal clock has a name: IT. IT is a giant brain stored in a central headquarters on Camazotz, and it controls all the happenings on Camazotz. In the process of trying to liberate Mr. Murry from his cell, Charles Wallace falls under the control of IT. Though Calvin, Meg, and Mr. Murry can tesseract to another planet, Charles Wallace can't pull himself away from IT, and remains a prisoner.
Meg recuperates on Planet Ixchel under the care of a kind alien she nicknames Aunt Beast (coincidentally, that is also my nickname of choice). Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit reappear to imbue Meg with the wisdom she needs to save her younger brother. Meg has the one thing IT cannot stop: love. Meg's love for Charles Wallace breaks the hold IT has on him, and together they "tesser" (travel by way of tesseract) back to their home on Earth.
Meg's story doesn't end with A Wrinkle in Time. L'Engle followed up her explosively popular, Newberry Award-winning debut with four novels: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), and An Acceptable Time (1989). In these titles, L'Engle continued to explore the themes the fascinated her most, like cosmic evil, the fate of the universe, and the power of love to surmount all.