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Reel Thoughts: Ender’s Game


I went to see Ender’s Game Halloween Night with That Guy, a couple of friends who had read the book, and a couple of friends who had not read the book. We had to wait until the late late show because a) I had to work until 9, and b) it was Halloween and those of us in neighborhoods with kids had to wait until the trick-or-treaters were done circling the grounds for their candy fix.

Now, all of us that went are total geeks: gamer geeks, computer geeks, sci-fi geeks, so this type of movie should have been perfect for us. Space, aliens, crucial climax at the end that turns everything around- just wonderful (and the book does that, BTW). The movie, not so much. (Note: If you are a real lover of the book, definitely distance yourself from it before seeing the movie.)

THE AWESOME

The actors: really, the cast couldn’t have been better chosen. Ender (Asa Butterfield)  and the young crew whom the whole of Earth are depending on to save them from the horrible “bugs” are entirely into their parts, and you can feel their emotions. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis) are perfect foils for each other, battling diametric viewpoints of how to treat these soldiers. It is so not their fault that the movie fails them.

The visuals: the graphics are really intense, and really bring the scenes to life. When Ender’s Game was originally written in 1985 (short story in 1977) there is no way that they could have envisioned the technology that we have today- yet the book details the gaming scenarios that are brought to life beautifully through CGI technology. The tech is spot on, and that makes a difference when you are a geek- trust me, I live with one.

THE GOOD

The cleaning/changes: the movie radically different from the book in many ways, and one good change from that is that it takes out all of the slurs and racial profiling. The cast is diverse (in fact, of the three major adult actors, one is Caucasian, one is half
Gujrati Indian/ half British, and one is black), and none of the controversial language that was in the original or some of the updated copies of the book (about Bonzo, for example) are in the movie.


Would I see it again? No. It did not give me that movie buzz that I get from a good/great movie (see after the spoilers for the bad and the picky parts), and defintely not enough for me to go out and watch it or even buy it for my personal DVD collection. Will I purchase it for my library? Yes, because it’s a popular title, and it fits with what my community will want to watch. Will I show it for a program? No, not unless my teens specifically ask for it- there are better movies to tie into programming.

Rottentomatoes.com has Ender’s Game listed as 52% (rotten) by the Top Critics and 61% (fresh) by all critics.


SPOILER SPACE


 

Hello,

my name 
is Trevor..






THE BAD
The Pacing: I don’t know who decided that the time sequencing in the movie needed to be non-existent but it completely throws everything off. There’s no aging with Ender or anyone else, so you start and end with Ender at the same age, which means everything happens in less than a year. It throws off the relationships- why does Bean completely trust Ender, why does Petra immediately gravitate towards him? And there’s no building of the father-son relationship between Graff and Ender that there is in the book, either. There’s no building of trust, there’s no building of the relationships in the movie- just this headlong spike towards the battle, and after it’s over and it’s revealed that Ender has completely wiped out the “Bugs” home planet, his betrayal seems less that what it could be because of this.

The Story:  If you’re going to set up a dystopian futuristic movie, then you’re going to have to explain all of the dystopian aspects. You can’t just have Ender depressed because he’s a useless third without explaining beforehand that humans aren’t allowed to have more than two kids without permission. You really shouldn’t have a war-torn Earth with billions killed yet set everything on Earth in a nice suburban neighborhood. And you really shouldn’t set every female figure in the movie (Ender’s mother, Major Anderson, Petra, and Valentine) to be huge balls of emotion to try and play out a romance angle when there wasn’t one in the book. It doesn’t read well, and doesn’t come off well.

THE RANTY

Hold on, it’s going to get a bit bumpy.

First off, if you’re going to introduce Peter and Valentine, why cut out their entire story? I mean, really?!?!?! You have Peter for five seconds, Valentine (played by an ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED ACTRESS) for maybe 5 minutes, and you’re not going to let them take over the EARTH?!?!?! What is WRONG with you people?!?! 

Second, if you’re going to introduce the Mind Game, use it completely. The game was twofold: first, he worked through his doubts and second, he was contacted by the “Bugs”. In the movie, he was destroyed by the snake (Peter) and then never conquered his fears- thereby missing the importance of compassion and sacrifice.

Third, you can’t just end the movie with LALALA, they’re not going to let me go home, so I’m going off on a grand adventure (and I stole the last “Bug” egg). It DOESN’T WORK. You have to give REASONS, people. There were REASONS he couldn’t go back home- everyone on his team were wanted by their home countries, but EVERYONE wanted Ender, so he would cause RIOTS. It was a long and thought out decision, not just spur of the moment. And it was also determined because one of his team couldn’t handle what they had done and suicided, and Ender was on the brink of going mad. So he had to save himself AND the egg.

Finally, I am actually really upset with the way they used the female characters in this movie. Major Anderson was a strong character, but she gets emotional she gets fired. Petra has an immediate friendship with Ender in the movie, and that turns into something more by the end- otherwise why would she be sitting by his bedside? And poor Valentine- her intelligence is completely chucked out the window, and all that remains is a ball of mush. She runs to get her parents when Peter is choking Ender, she bawls when she’s getting Ender back to space… no where is the cunning or anything else resembling the strong character in the book. She’s even characterized that way in the beginning: Valentine was taken out of the program because she was too emotional.  AHHH! So not a things I want to be teaching kids- that emotions are bad things and we need to be mushing them into submission.

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