Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ender's Game Review

Over all of the sci-fi and young adult films this year, the vast majority of them have been extremely disappointing, while I wouldn't qualify Ender's Game as a disappointment, there is certainly much more potential that could have been reached. Ender's Game, based off of Card's bestseller (a word of the controversy later, after the break), has some exciting visual scenes but ultimately feels to rushed and factory produced to be anything overly special.

Ender's Game starts off down on Earth, and it is here that the movie suffers the most (and foreshadows the pacing for the rest of the movie), it makes a brief point on addressing the plot points that had been made in the book but despite being accurate it spends no time in depicting why these scenes were important. It also introduces two non-Ender characters who are supposed to be important (his brother and sister), yet it never at any point in the movie relishes why, the characters are just there because they were there in the book so obviously they should show up in the film.  This is a problem because they both just feel wasted, and so any major plot-point in the film that relates to these characters just feels unimpactful, and wasted.

The evident plot rushing isn't just seen in this example, but throughout the movie, for another example, there is a point where Ender relates back to the Formics, and the understanding he has of them, well the plot is rushed so much that while you see the steps he'd take to that understanding, you don't see how, it just is kind of there, it takes an essence of believability from the film when this happens.  This happens to the majority of the plot points in the movie, they are rushed to the point where any impact, thought, importance, thematic relevance, heart, all of it is taken away and it's just a bare outline of the book.

Now, that's not to say that this film was bad by any means, but I needed to address the fatal flaw, because honestly there was a lot that the film did have going for it.  One of those is many of the performances from the title actors, were in fact, well-acted, especially on Harrison Ford and Viola Davis' behalf, they played the outside observers extremely well.  Ben Kingsley, for the limited amount of screen-time he has, pulled off his role fairly well (although, his character was again one of the casualties of the rushing of the movie).  Out of the child actors Hailee Steinfeld, most definitely, comes off as the strongest performance, she wasn't overly amazing, but she was one of the more believable child actors.  It was Asa Butterfield, who although had some strong moments, that I felt overall missed the character of Ender, he seemed robotic almost, and I don't think Ender was robotic, he was still human, and a child.  Also, Ender seemed to be almost to successful, there was no error, he just mastered everything after a minute or two of trying, he rose to fast, which again leads back to the plot rushing.

The visuals were probably what helped accelerate the film the most, it was enjoyable to watch a lot of the scenes, however even these action scenes seemed to cut to the chase in order to squeeze in more plot points which made the film feel more rushed. It was exciting while it lasted, but the main fun visual moments in the movie are fairly scarce, the film seems to be confused with what it wants to be and how it wants to do it.

While Ender's Game is overall a fun movie, especially for a week where a lack of anything interesting is being released, it is ultimately hurt by being a film in the rush, never slowing down, never elaborating, it's one of the few times that I would say a film was to short (I would even make it into two parts if they didn't want to go longer).  With some strong performances, fun visuals, and a rushed plot, Ender's Game is a fun time in theaters.

6/10 Sticks of Bamboo

On the controversy: There is controversy around the author of this film, mostly for his overly open and jerkish statements over gay rights.  While Card isn't making any money off of this film, I would not blame somebody for skipping out because they feel uncomfortable supporting what is his story (which the book's themes of acceptance are ironically controversial to his actual beliefs).  However, just so the people who are concerned know, the money the film makes will not go to the author, so you can boycott the book instead for a better impact.  (What's sad is the book is a very good sci-fi novel, and much better than this alright movie)

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