Friday, November 1, 2013

Does Ender's Game Live Up To Expectations?

In a word... No.
But it does try. I am an avid fan of Orson Scott Card's novel and can honestly say the film did hit more key points than I thought it would.

The problem is, Ender's Game, still to this day, is too big a story for just one film. And I'm ignoring the many sequels and potential franchising with this article because this needs to be just about the stand alone story that is Ender's Game.
Since I first heard about the potential for an Ender's Game film adaptation I've been trying to figure out how it could be done. And the best answer I could come up with is... it's not a movie. But it could be a GREAT video game.

Still the movie now exists.

What worried me first and foremost about this, was the mind game. In the book it keeps us in touch with Ender's psyche while at the same time delivering some surprising and shocking images. True they used two of these scenes in the film, which is two more than I expected. But without those other sequences of the Wolf Children and the Playground, the Giant and the Castle lose their foundation.

I don't mind the excising of the majority of the Peter and Valentine story lines. Though it does lead me to wonder what they plan on doing in a potential sequel...
If they do Speaker for the Dead, I can only imagine it'll be completely reworked. Kind of sad considering how good a novel it is in its own right.

What I didn't anticipate, was the disregard for the crucial building blocks of strategy. I know it's just one movie (which is kind of the point) but our evaluation of how Ender gains the knowledge he does in order to come to that climax is legitimately the most crucial element to the story's success. Because within that strategy building we also learn who Ender is and what he truly wants to do. We learn how he sympathizes. And one line, repeated multiple times, can never come close to bringing us that kind of bond with a character.
Anyway, Asa Butterfield does an alright job here. I think a better script could have afforded him a greater opportunity for success, but at the same time I felt he lacked similar depth in Hugo as well. Harrison Ford was better than I thought he'd be. And Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, and Moises Arias (all in limited time) certainly brought a deeper life to this film.

At the end of the day, I guess it comes down to this. As a fan of the book, the movie teases just enough of the stuff I cared about to remain semi interesting. To a complete outsider, I don't think the appeal would exist from the outset because the movie provides no real foundation for their emotional journey. Therefor, in both capacities, it is a failure. A two-to-three star film based on a five star book that could've made a five star video game.

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