08 November 2013
FWS Movie Review: ENDER'S GAME (2013)
The next couple of years are going to see more military science fiction works coming to the big screen, and one of the bigger names in this trend is Ender's Game. The journey of this award-winning MSF novel has been a long one, mainly because Orson Scott Card was very protective over the film rights. In interviews, he openly said that he was concerned on how Hollywood would treat his work, and to avoid some of the evils of the studio system and how they have treated novels over the years. According to Card, Hollywood has been making offers on his book for years, and up until recently, Card refused. What changed? In 2003, Card wrote several screenplays for the novel to appeal to those that had not read the novel, and by 2009, all seemed in readiness, and moved quickly towards production and release. On a personal note, I read Ender's Game about two years ago for the first time, after buying the book when Borders was closing down. I was unimpressed with the book as a whole, finding it uneven with a overly complex plot for the material, and there were odd elements that should have been eliminated. Much like Minority Report and BLADE RUNNER, the movie could be better, in the general, to the book. Is Ender's Game such a film? Will it be more Blade Runner than Starship Troopers? I saw this on Friday, November 8th, at an AMC theater in Dallas in standard, but not IMAX or IMAX 3D...didn't have the time.
The Movie Plot
Ender's Game attempts to tell the story of the novel, and the filmmakers were hellbent committed to that goal, even if it meant running over some scenes and the overall story. Most of the supporting characters, including Ender's family are mere set pieces, that is also true of his Battle-Room battles. There are only two scene in the film, while the book devotes page and page on it and the importance of the games to the society of the station. No more is the warp-speed pacing seen in damaging effect than during a key moment in the book as well as the film...when Ender leaves Battle-School and hides out a lake house. In desperation, Graff brings Ender's sister to convince him to rejoin the school and the war effort. The film simply does not pull it off, the acting, writing, and setup are all broken, and feels like when you grid a gear. I just preyed that the movie moved on and we got back into space. This film does captures some fantastic performances by Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis (who I loved in The Help) but features some bad performances by the child actors that orbiting around Ender and his life at the battle-school. Some are so ham-fisted that they come off as comical.
How Does the Movie Compare to the Book?
Should You See Ender's Game?