Monday, November 25, 2013

Movie Review: Ender's Game (2013)

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is probably the most intelligent sci-fi I’ve ever read. Back in 1985, Card created compelling characters, wrote tense situations, and explored profound moralities. In Andrew “Ender” Wiggins, the author underlined the themes of things lost in war, survival and strategy, talent and responsibility, friendship and solitude, and a host of other concepts that require re-reading to capture.

I initially refused to watch the movie because Card lost his marbles at some point, but this abridged script persuaded me to watch. Bottom line: worth it. Ender’s Game is a visually stunning film. It’s not Gravity, but it comes close. The futuristic cars, tablets, gear, etc. were believable. The “simulation room” at the Command School base was spectacular. Before that, the design crew’s interpretation of the zero-gravity training room was effective, and it was a delight to see the formations that the “armies” came up with as they floated and blasted their way to victory.

Speaking of children, critics thought that Asa Butterfield was too old to play Ender, who is six in the book when he’s sent off to train in space for his strategic ass-kicking abilities. Movie-Ender is a teenager, complete with lanky body and voice on the verge of squeaking. Let’s take a minute to think back to another iconic movie—Jake Lloyd, anyone? NO CHILDREN PLEASE. Butterfield is fantastic as Ender, and that is that.

The movie is faithful to the book, except at the end. The conclusion of the movie felt rushed. It would have been nice to get something as emotionally intense as the climactic final battle. As it is, Butterfield got to stare tearfully at a teacup poodle on top of someone’s head, or whatever they do on the green screen these days, as the music whined whinily in the background. Denouement fail.

In conclusion: Read the book, thank the author for his contribution to literature, and hurry away to see director Gavin Hood’s take. He wrote the screenplay as well, by the way. Well done to you, sir.

This post brought to you by the Patriots’ stupendous win over the Broncos last night. In Brady we trust.