‘A Wrinkle In Time’: What Is a Tesseract, and Why Does It Sound Familiar?

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(Note: This post contains moderate spoilers for “A Wrinkle in Time.”)

Both the novel “A Wrinkle In Time” and the Disney movie based on it are all about traveling vast distances to explore the universe. There aren’t any sleek, futuristic spaceships or rockets in the movie to cross the span between planets, though. Instead, characters rely on a weird, real world theoretical physics-influenced concept with a very familiar name.

The story kicks off with protagonist Meg (Storm Reed) struggling with the disappearance of her NASA scientist father (Chris Pine), who just up and vanished one day. Things change when Meg, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller), are visited by three interdimensional beings who show up to enlist the kids’ help. Turns out, Meg’s father, Dr. Murray, figured out how to travel across the universe interdimensionally — and now he’s trapped on a planet that’s an embodiment of pure evil, called Camazotz.

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The three beings — Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) — reveal to Meg and friends that the universe contains “tesseracts,” which allow them to cover tens of light years of distance instantly via a process called “Tessering.” Tessering also happens to be the way Dr. Murray traveled so far away from Earth. So what is a tesseract, and what is tessering?

In “A Wrinkle In Time,” it’s not quite the same thing as in other contexts, but a lot of the elements are the same.

In the novel, Mrs. Whatsit explains that if we understand space to be three-dimensional, and time represents a fourth dimension, then the tesseract is a fifth-dimensional bridge between two points in time and space. She uses the image of an ant walking on a flat string. The ant can get from one end of the string to the other by walking its length — but if you fold the string and bring the ends together, the ant can reach the end much more quickly and easily.

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A tesseract is the literal “wrinkle in time” from the title, which is also a wrinkle in space. While “A Wrinkle In Time” keeps its tessering fairly simple, the idea is that you use your mind to fold the fabric of space together to bridge two faraway points. In other words, tessering creates a so-called Einstein-Rosen Bridge, also known as a “wormhole,”, a concept predicted by Albert Einstein as part of his theory of general relativity.

The word “tesseract” refers to something else in other circumstances. It specifically describes a shape: a visual representation of a cube existing in the three spacial dimensions and the fourth dimension of time. It’s weird to describe, but a tesseract sort of looks like a cube within a cube, made up of many cubes.

Probably the most likely place people have recently heard the term “tesseract” is from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In those films, a blue cube that first popped up in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” later revealed to be an infinity stone, is called a tesseract. It was first used to power the super-strong weapons of the Nazi group HYDRA. And later, the tesseract was used by bad guy Loki in “The Avengers” to open — wait for it — a wormhole that let an army of aliens through to attack New York.

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The end of the movie “Interstellar,” in which Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper finds himself traveling through a wormhole, also involves a tesseract. After getting zapped through the wormhole, Cooper is able to see and interact with multiple times at once: He finds himself inside a tesseract, a fifth-dimensional space, looking out into the other four dimensions.

All that to say that the term tesseract might refer to different specific things, but they all describe the idea of interacting with other dimensions. In “A Wrinkle In Time,” the thing to know is that tessering is all about crossing vast distances — and that it’s not just magic, but a fantastical idea rooted in real world science.

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Does ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Have a Post-Credits Scene?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“A Wrinkle In Time” is a visual spectacle of a children’s movie, painting a huge universe with multiple planets, strange characters and twisting sci-fi rules.

Adapting the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle In Time” merges science fiction and what feels like magic into pretty wide-reaching tale. At the center are three kids — Meg (Storm Reid), Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and Calvin (Levi Miller) — who find themselves meeting extra-dimensional beings who enlist them in a quest across the universe.

That’s the sort of story that sounds like it might lend itself to a big-budget franchise, and with Disney turning out cinematic universes with both its Marvel movies and “Star Wars” films, audiences might wonder if they’re going to be teased for a future film. So is there a post-credits scene to see at the end of “A Wrinkle In Time,” or are you free to save your time and leave your seat before the lights come up?

If you’re the kind of person who likes to high-tail it to the bathroom when the credits roll, you’re in luck: There’s no post-credits scene to wait for at the end of “A Wrinkle In Time.” In fact, apart from a visually engaging trip across the locations the movie visits at the beginning of the credits, there’s nothing to see after the end of the movie.

It’s worth hanging around for the spectacle at the beginning of the credits, since “A Wrinkle In Time” is often a gorgeous, colorful movie. The story finds its kid protagonists traveling from planet to amazing planet in search of Meg’s missing father, Dr. Murry, with the help of Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling).

They Misses use their ability to “tesser,” or fold spacetime with their minds, to travel tens of light years at a time — instantly moving from one point in space and time to another. That lets the kids visit far-off worlds as they try to solve the mystery of what happened to Dr. Murry. “A Wrinkle In Time” might well lend itself to sequels, but for now, there’s nothing teasing you to tune in for another movie.

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Film Review: Oprah Hitchhikes the Galaxy in Trippy Kiddie Treat

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Awash in bold colors, bright patterns and ebullient kids, director Ava DuVernay’s new take on “A Wrinkle in Time” dazzles its way across time and space even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing. A psychedelic journey for 6-year-olds of all ages, this big-screen adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel offers trippy delights even if the novel’s “unfilmable” reputation remains firmly in place.

Still, DuVernay and screenwriters Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and John Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”) give it their all, imbuing as much epic grandeur as they can into a story that seems to take place over the course of a languid afternoon. Audiences willing to forgive the script flaws in “The Wizard of Oz” — why doesn’t Glinda tell Dorothy right away that the slippers can take her home? — will be rewarded with an extravaganza of larger-than-life characters and mind-bending locations if they extend the same slack to “A Wrinkle in Time.”

It’s been four years since the disappearance of scientist Mr. Murry (Chris Pine), and his absence has been hardest on his tween daughter Meg (Storm Reid, “12 Years a Slave”), who’s been angry at the world and keeping everyone around her at arm’s length. One day her adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) lets in a stranger, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who informs Mrs. Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) that Mr. Murry’s theories about dimension-spanning tesseracts were correct, and that she and the children will soon use those interstellar portals for an expedition that will bring him home.

Watch Video: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Trailer: Oprah & Friends Guide Young ‘Warriors’ to Save Chris Pine

Meg finds this all very strange, but soon their traveling party includes her classmate Calvin (Levi Miller, “Better Watch Out”), as well as Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) — who speaks only in quotations from poets, philosophers and the occasional hip-hop lyricist — and the powerful Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), who guides the group across the universe to find Mr. Murry. But like “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Phantom Tollbooth” and any number of other kid-quest narratives, the real goal here is for the heroine to find herself; through these travails, Meg must learn to let go of her anger and to accept and love who she is, faults and all.

That’s a good place to start a story, and it’s certainly a treat to watch a movie where an intelligent, bespectacled girl saves the universe while a smitten boy looks on adoringly. Speaking of being a treat to watch, “A Wrinkle in Time” never holds back on the visual flair — costume designer Paco Delgado, cinematographer Tobias Schliessler, art directors David Lazan and Ken Turner, and set decorator Elizabeth Keenan (and their respective crews) clearly put in a lot of overtime to craft such a breathtaking bauble.

From the Murrys’ cozy home to worlds covered in sentient flowers to empty rooms that aren’t as bare as they seem, every location feels tangible, no matter how otherworldly. (And the flowing outfits worn by the trio of Missuses offer one surprise after another.)

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Where the film stalls is in a resolution that never quite seems to match the build-up. The final act feels like a multi-part miniseries that’s been cut down to a feature film, with a rushed climax that feels too differently paced from the building of the premise and its stakes. But none of this is a deal-breaker, and the production’s strengths far outweigh its flaws.

Apart from all the eye candy, we get an ensemble of charming performances: Reid’s determination and pluck make her a great heroine, and Kaling’s eyes always radiate with mischief, whether she’s keeping mum or repeating someone else’s words. With relatively little screen time, Pine and Mbatha-Raw express the kind of parental love that anchors the story, and the charismatic Miller imbues his sidekick role with genuine feeling.

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And, of course, there’s Oprah: I know I’m a bad American for being generally annoyed with her patented brand of you-can-do-it sermonizing, but when Mrs. Which offers support and inspiration to a wavering Meg, I got a lump in my throat. It’s not just any actress who can be taken seriously after her character enters as a 30-foot colossus, but Winfrey gives the movie — and its heroine — the juice to keep going.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is just weird and wonderful enough to generate a cult following, and it’s the kind of movie that the kids of 2018 are going to remember with genuine affection and wonder when they become the adults of 2035. (And how exciting to see a movie that makes science appealing to young audiences.) It’s an expensive art film for children — and that’s a good thing.



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Watch the NAACP Image Awards’ Behind the Scenes Look at ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ (Video)

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The 49th annual NAACP Image Awards Monday night celebrated the work not just the work of people of color in entertainment in 2017, it also looked ahead to what’s in store in 2018 — including by dropping a behind-the-scenes look at Ava DuVernay’s fantasy adventure “A Wrinkle in Time.”

In the featurette we’re treated to a nice mix of actual footage from the film with shots of DuVernay working behind the scenes — with cast members effusively praising her craft and the diversity both in front of and behind the camera.

“I think that the particular discipline, organization and artful eye Ava brings to the work inspires everybody who’s working for her,” Oprah Winfrey, who plays Ms. Which in the film, said.

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“I’ve never been part of a movie where the diversity represented on camera and off camera is so effortlessly inclusive,” co-star Mindy Kaling said.

You can watch the video embedded above.

“A Wrinkle in Time” lands in theaters on March 6 and stars Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Oprah, Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Pena and Chris Pine. It’s directed by DuVernay and written by Jennifer Lee. The movie is, of course, an adaptation of the much loved novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle, but you probably already knew that.

Also on Monday, DuVernay was honored with the Entertainer of the Year at the 49th annual  NAACP Image Awards.

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‘Better Watch Out’ Review: Holiday Horror Comedy Plays Like ‘Home Alone’ with a Body Count

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The generation that grew up on “Home Alone” has come to realize that Kevin McCallister was a sadistic little monster; one much-shared online article posits that he grew up to be Jigsaw in the “Saw” movies, while another hearty soul tested some of little Kevin’s deathtraps on a ballistics dummy.

To the growing re-evaluation of the 1990 holiday hit’s dark underpinnings, add the new horror comedy “Better Watch Out,” which examines both the mayhem involved in fending off home invaders and the twisted psyche required to come up with such ingenious (and deadly) snares.

As a self-professed (and self-inflicted) Christmas movie expert, I’ve sat through my share of dismal holiday horrors over the years, but “Better Watch Out” is among the sub-genre’s gems. Director Chris Peckover (who co-scripted with Zack Kahn) adroitly manages the Christmas/carnage ratio; there’s no shortage of snow, twinkle lights and garish sweaters, but there are also plenty of dark deeds and nefarious doings.

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As his parents (Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton in brief but effective cameos) head out for a holiday party, almost-13-year-old Luke (Levi Miller, “Pan”) is thrilled to be baby-sat by college-bound Ashley (Olivia DeJonge, “Will”). She’s a mature young woman, but her tween charge has decided he’s old enough to get romantic and seductive with her, particularly if the two sit and watch a scary movie first.

But then a mysterious, unsolicited pizza delivery shows up. And there are some strange noises outside. And Ashley’s estranged boyfriend keeps calling. And the surprises in “Better Watch Out” are such chilling fun — and they keep coming, all the way to the closing credits — that it’s best not to give away anything else that happens.

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Suffice it to say that Peckover and Kahn have created a new horror icon in Luke, an angel-faced kid with a dark streak; when it comes to keeping Ashley safe from the outside world, this child shows himself to be somewhere on the spectrum between Macaulay Culkin’s character in “Home Alone” and Macaulay Culkin’s character in “The Good Son.”

Cinematographer Carl Robinson shoots Luke’s house with such rich coziness that it’s almost a parody of holiday cheer — ironically, this snowy Christmas was filmed on a soundstage in Australia, where they never happen — which makes the perfect backdrop to the loony violence that follows. Both the screenplay and the editing by Julie-Anne De Ruvo (“Please Like Me”) maintain the intricate plate-spinning required to go back and forth between laughs and screams, all the while imperceptibly boosting the tension as the night progresses.

DeJonge makes an effective foil throughout; she’s smart, strong and ready to get out of this gossipy suburb, and she’s certainly no shrinking violet as the outside world encroaches. Ed Oxenbould (“The Visit”) gets a lot out of the sidekick role as Luke’s horned-up best friend Garrett; his performance calls to mind Anthony Rapp’s screen debut in “Adventures in Babysitting” — and that’s a compliment.

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Ultimately, “Better Watch Out” belongs to Miller, who deserves a vehicle this strong after being the sole bright spot of the wreckage that was “Pan.” On the earliest precipice of manhood, Luke isn’t nearly as sophisticated as he thinks he is — at one point, Luke and Garrett play “f–k, marry, kill” with the female characters from “Adventure Time” — but while his attempts at seducing Ashley might be clumsy, he’s downright precocious when it comes to deviousness.

Delightfully unpredictable and surprisingly shocking, this is the kind of wintry wickedness that will see you through both Halloween and Christmas, especially if you like those holiday flavors together.

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‘A Wrinkle in Time’ First Trailer Offers Glimpse of Ava DuVernay Sci-Fi Vision (Video)

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“Queen Sugar” creator Ava DuVernay unveiled the first footage from her upcoming adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” on Saturday at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim.

DuVernay was joined by the cast of the film, including Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey.

The sneak peek trailer shows Storm Reid as Meg Murry, a resourceful teen who, along with her brother Charles (Deric McCabe) and classmate Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller), is sent on an intergalactic quest to find her missing father (Pine) and save the universe from an abomination simply known as The Black Thing.

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Guiding them on their quest are three wise alien women named Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit, who are played respectively by Kaling, Winfrey, and Witherspoon. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Andre Holland, Michael Peña, and Zach Galifianakis.

DuVernay said she was excited to work on a Disney film, and to fill it with a diverse cast. With this film, she is the first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget of over $100 million.

“We wanted to make a cast that looked like you, looked like the real world,” said an exuberant DuVernay.

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Pine was congratulated for the success of his latest film, Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman,” and said that he wanted to join the project because of DuVernay’s creative vision.

“Within five minutes of meeting Ava, I knew I was going to do it,” Pine said. “It had everything to do with Ava’s focus and passion and commitment.”

 

The adaptation has a script by “Frozen” co-director Jennifer Lee.

“A Wrinkle in Time” hits theaters March 3, 2018.

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Film Review: ‘Jasper Jones’

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The loss of childhood innocence and the suffocating despair of adulthood come together in “Jasper Jones,” a beautifully composed portrait of life in late-’60s small-town Australia. Centered on a 14-year-old boy caught up in a murder mystery involving a part-Aboriginal suspect, this outstanding adaptation of Craig Silvey’s novel will appeal strongly to teenage and adult audiences…. Read more »

Zach Galifianakis, Andre Holland, and ‘Pan’ Star Levi Miller Join ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

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Zach Galifianakis, Andre Holland, and Levi Miller have rounded out cast of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Deric McCabe has also joined the cast. They join Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, with Ava DuVernay directing. “Since Day One, this experience has shimmered with the promise and possibility,… Read more »