“A Wrinkle in Time” was first published in 1962. That’s a long gestation period for a novel to find its way to the silver screen, but perhaps the digital and visual effects have finally caught up with Madeleine L’Engle’s epically visionary story.

I remember struggling to read it when I was young; it was a bit too abstract, and I couldn’t quite follow the thematic nuances that the author was conveying in deep, sometimes allegorical layers.

Middle schooler Meg (Storm Reid) and her brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), are adjusting to life without their brilliant scientist father, Mr. Murray (Chris Pine), who mysteriously vanished four years prior. Their grieving is met with an almost cruel dismissal by everyone they encounter, leading them to close themselves off from relationships.

Never giving up hope of a reunion, the enigmatic and precocious Charles Wallace conjures the visitation by three transcendental cosmic beings; Ms. Who (Mindy Kaling), Ms. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Ms. Which (Oprah Winfrey). With their tagalong friend, Calvin (Levi Miller), the three children embark on a fantastic journey to find their estranged father, where space and time are somehow both ubiquitous and nonexistent.

At the corner of science and fantasy, “A Wrinkle in Time” is quite a trip. Never delving too deeply into the science (it is Disney after all), it is more a call to arms by a female director and an almost exclusively female cast to encroach on the traditionally male-dominated market. Disney has always been a bit ahead of the curve in terms of female protagonists, and Storm Reid holds her own surrounded by veteran actors and a media titan. I applaud the movement in Hollywood, which was clearly prevalent in the recent “Annihilation,” as well (fantastic film by the way). We are witnessing the dismantling of a patriarchal industry, and it’s exciting to see what’s on the horizon.

Director Ana DuVernay (“Selma”) enlists writer Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) to bring to life a very feminist version of the novel, and it works to an extent. I appreciated the bold liberty taken in modifying aspects of the story (Meg’s two twin brothers are removed entirely) but the story doesn’t seem to move in a very traditional fashion. There are simply too many sequences that just take the audience to the next beautiful scene without much thought of context or reasoning.

The narrative moves through stages of the hero’s journey without much fanfare or sense, but the imagery is stunning and lighthearted. By the time the climax nears, however, there is a marked shift in tone, which I found to be a bit extreme in contrast to my expectations. It left the playful mood behind and jumped into the deep end of a dark, ominous nightmare.

Too scary for PG, and too childish for PG-13, I’m afraid the film finds itself in the twilight zone of demographic targeting. It’s a kid’s movie with far too much bite, but it is decidedly still a kid’s movie. For that, I had a hard time enjoying the ending.

I can’t recall exactly how closely the film followed the book’s narrative, but it lacked the comfort of any sort of familiarity for certain. I’m sure it will do well at the box office with a modest $100 million budget and a strong marketing campaign, but I have to say I was less than thrilled with the outcome.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is yet another classic young adult book riding the coattails of its reputation in novelization form. You might enjoy the film if you’re a child; wait, you’ll be frightened by the ending. You won’t quite enjoy it if you read the book when you were a child yourself and seeking some nostalgia either. Maybe there is a sweet spot, like if you are a 12-14-year-old advanced reader? Otherwise, it’s fine to miss this one.