30 Dec 2013

Enders Game

Director:       Gavin Hood.
Screen Play: Gavin Hood (based on the novel by Orson Scot Card.)
Starring:       Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld,                                     Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis and Abigail Breslin.

Sorry this is a bit late, my PC has been having conniptions.

I think that Science Fiction films are having a good run at the moment, which will hopefully mean more and more hit the big screen.  Ender's Game  is the adaptation of a good book, by a bad author. That is my personal opinion and for this post I am just going to focus on the film.


Earth came under attack by an alien race and millions died. But at the eleventh hour the alien threat was defeated and Earth was saved. Ever since, Earth has been preparing for the next attack.

The world has united under a single government and military against a common enemy, and they are recruiting children to train up to be the best soldiers in a war which could spell the extinction of the human race.  Ender is one such recruit. Both his older brother and sister have failed the training program; Peter, his brother failed for being too aggressive, and Valentine for being too compassionate. Ender is desperate to succeed where his siblings have failed.  Ender has a gift; he can observe and understand his enemy, their strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so he can defeat them. This gift is of great interest to the military, but Ender first has to balance his more aggressive nature and his compassion.

Ensue child soldier antics.

Asa Btterfield ( Hugo) is very good as the brilliant but conflicted Ender. Unlike the book this Ender is a slightly more identifiable character. Ben Kingsly as the half Maori Rackham was also good, but his performance was let down by his South African/Australian/ UK accent masquerading as what can only be intended as a New Zealand accent.  It was very distracting  for me, maybe the rest of the world will not notice, but I suspect Kiwis will disconnect from the film. Come on Ben we expect better, say it with me; fush und chups, and repeat.
Gud'day maate

At 71 Harrison Ford gives a superb performance as Colonel Graff, and while the younger cast are good in their respective roles, Ford's scenes as the tunnel visioned Graff versus Viola Davis's conscientious Major Anderson were the stand out performances.

Ender's Game  has some of the best visuals since 2001: A Space Odyssey. The image of the training station orbiting the earth is spectacular, and one that sits in my mind. The wonderful cinematography, matched by fantastic music by Steve Jablonsky, could have made this into a real space opera.

Unfortunately the film suffers from a lack of exposition and a rushed story. Like all film adaptations the writers and directs have to balance being true to the original story, with practically transferring that story to two hours on the big screen. They run the risk of departing from the original material so much that too much is lost to be enjoyed ( I am Legend) or far too much (The Hobbit). Ender's Game really needed about 30 seconds of exposition to clarify the world we entered. Why was the fact that Ender was a third child so important for example? Also the training of Ender appeared to be too quick, while we don't need to see fifteen minutes of battle room training, maybe the montage could have been extended by another thirty seconds to really show the passage of time.

The ending also seemed forced and weird. But I don't really want to discuss that too much. Fans of the book may be dismayed by the slash and burn of story from the book, but of course the book covers a long period of time (around six years from memory) and the minor political story lines would only detract from Ender's own story.  It is not a bad film, it looks and sounds great, and has some very good acting. But there is so much lacking in the film's execution, you will probably walk out feeling that that it was wanting in some way.

Six monkeys from me.

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