Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ender's Game (2013): Review

Tonight I went and saw the first showing I could of Ender's Game and I am very excited to say that I really liked it.  I first learned about this movie earlier this year when I first saw the trailer.  Because I tend to like sci-fi movies I thought that I would like it and started to look forward to it, talking to my brother about it, he informed me that it was the first book in a series and that he both liked and owned them.  He then proceeded to lend them to me and told me to read Ender's Game and also Ender's Shadow.  I read them both through in a few days and really enjoyed the story and the psychology of the young boys having to deal with all this pressure put upon them and having to work and live in a world where the adults have secondary motives for what they are doing.
Ender's Game is based on the Orson Scott Card 1985 book of the same name and it is based around the early life of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, played by Asa Butterfield.  This movie is set in a future world many years after the earth was attached by an alien species referred to as Buggers or Formics (in the movie) where humanity was almost destroyed, but prevailed because of the strategy of Mazer Rackham, played by Ben Kingsley.  Since that time, children have been trained at Battle School in the hopes that one of them would be able to command the attach on the Formics and save Earth from their next invasion.  Time is running short on finding this commander and General Graff, played by Harrison Ford, believes that boy is Ender.   Ender is a Third and was only born because there was greatness in his family but his older brother Peter who was too vindictive and Older Sister Valentine, played by Abigail Breslin, was too empathetic, the hope being that Ender would be a combination of both of these qualities.  Ender is found to be an amazing strategist and is drafted into Battle School.  While at Battle School Ender meets many adversaries and friends and has to step up and through the tests and trials that are put upon him to see is he can really command the attack on the Formics.  At times Ender challenges whether he can step up to the challenge or if he really wants to do anything for the adults who keep putting him through ridiculous tests.  Along the way are people who help him or challenge him including Alai, played by Suraj Parthra, Petra, played by Hailey Steinfield, and Bean, played by Aramis Knight. 
This movie streamlines the story of the book but changes some points, i.e how Bernard fits into the story, condenses to only needed information, i.e. the psychological game, and drops some completely, i.e the Peter and Valentine back on earth subplot. I think that this is done in a way that benefits the movie but I know that as a fan of the book I am bummed that some of my favorite little moments are not in there.  The movie also has some references and things through in that I got because I had read the book but someone who hadn't read the book wouldn't have noticed. I do not think that any of these where blatant to the point of distracting.  Also to those who have read the books any perspective or insight given in Ender's Shadow (1999) is not included in the movie, it is solely focused on Ender.  For anyone reading the book I recommend reading Ender's Shadow as it is the same timeframe of Ender's Game but follows it from Bean's perspective.

Going back to the movie, I liked the movie and think that they did a good job with it.  At times, I thought that they jumped around, but I think this was more because I knew what parts happened between them because of reading the book, I think that everything flowed well for anyone unfamiliar to the story and the movie does explain essentials needed for the story and geared this movie for those who have no background with the story. I overall liked the casting and the interactions between the characters.  The main thing that was distracting for me for a while was that Ender was older in the movie then in the books.  Part of Ender's psychology in the book is that he is smaller and younger then those he is thrust into dealing with but in this movie he appears to be at the same age as them.  The main time this was obvious to me was during his interactions with Bozo, who was suppose to be an older teen but was smaller in size then Ender.  It did not have the obvious physical peril component that was a part of their interactions. Once I checked this I was able to really get into the characters interactions and relationships with each other.  I always like Harrison Ford in these Gruff older characters and I really found myself liking Viola Davis as Major Anderson, and Nonzo Anozie as Sargent Dap.
The special effects were used very well in this movie and although at times it was obviously special effects but as these were during simulations that they children were participating in it made sense that it was have a computer generated feel to it because that is what it was to the children.  The thing that was more distracting to me was the bug chattering that was added and which seemed quite obvious and overused. I would have liked it to have been used more sparingly and subtlety with the score.
Basically I really liked this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again in a few days with my brother and sister (I didn't want to have to wait to initially see it) and would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi action-ey movies.  This was not straight up action as most of the more recent releases has been, as it consists of lots of smaller battle sequences.  The movie has these one on top of each other, as the movie appears to be set over just a few months. Basically go and see this movie, it is fn to watch, has the sci-fi feel to it, and has good interactions between the characters.

My Rating: 3

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