Monday, November 4, 2013

Ender's Game (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about "Ender's Game" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 You know a movie is alright if it makes me want to read… a book… with like words and stuff.
“Ender’s Game” is a movie based on an Orson Scott Card Sci Fi novel set in a future where mankind is training children as it’s best defense against an invading alien race. The story is a complex look at the philosophy and tactics of war seen through it’s brilliant young protagonist named Ender who may just be the final hope for mankind. Asa Butterfield plays Ender with Harrison Ford as the recruiting commander who sees his genius in a story many have claimed was unfilmable since the book came out in the mid 80s. Turns out they were wrong. Not only has director Gavin Hood filmed it, he’s made a really good movie here.
There’s actually quite a bit I loved about Ender’s Game. First off, it’s absolutely stunning visually. Actually, it’s quite possible I audibly gasped at how gorgeous some of these scenes were. In addition, it took very little effort to buy into these characters and relationships, due in part to a great performance from Asa Butterfield, who I’ve loved since the independant film “Son of Rambow” but who you might know better as “Hugo” from the movie called, uh, “Hugo”. Harrison Ford also thankfully returns to form after having quite a few misses under his belt recently. On another front, I also enjoyed so many of the beautiful themes and messages about war, conflict, and leadership that I’m sure the book is dripping with. But the best thing for me in this movie had to be the incredible detail in the tactical training and strategic thinking. I’m a sucker for a well realized universe and the universe of Ender’s Game just feels extremely full and well thought out. From the progressive training to the details of the war I found myself enthralled and wanting more. Usually I get on movies for being too long, but in this case I found myself wishing this had been an hour longer. I just wanted more of this universe.
And actually that’s probably the worst thing, book to movie syndrome. You can just tell that there is so much more that got left out of the movie. As impressive as the scenes that made the cut are, you can feel the absence of what’s missing. it makes the story feel a bit jumpy and rushed. If you’ve read the books then maybe it’s easy for you to fill in those gaps, if not, the movie just feels like it happens too fast and can leave an aura of uneasiness. I also felt like the movie got a bit self serious in some parts, but that’s a minor detail and was probably just the result of Harrison Ford’s constant facial growl.
Overall, Ender’s Game is a beautiful film with military philosophies and tactics that are thought provoking and entertaining. It captures an incredibly compelling and complete science fiction universe even if it feels a bit compact and rushed from the novel. I loved it enough to go with an A-.
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