‘Ender’s Game’ Review

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Dir: Gavin Hood

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Haille Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, and Harrison Ford

Synopsis: The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler review as always.*

Based on the popular Orson Scott Card 1985 sci-fi novel of the same name the movie takes place 50 years after earth suffered an attack from the ‘Formics’ – insect-like aliens. Their efforts failed, but millions died during the invasion, and the planet has been awaiting the Formics’ return ever since.  The government decides that children are our best chance of survival, training them to take charge of the planet’s International Fleet. The reason is because kids “don’t think the way we think,” they operate at a higher speed, and can handle technology and deal with tremendous amounts of information without getting burnt out.

This is where we see Ender (Butterfield), who has vast intelligence and maturity but he’s also a very troubled boy. From being bullied for being a Third, at this time families are limited to two children, by school mates and his older brother and having both selfless and selfish. Ender, according to Colonel Graff (Ford), is the last and only hope to save the Earth from a possible future attack from the Formics. Graff then gets Ender to practice to become the leader he thinks Ender can be and sends him to Battle School.

The Battle School, a huge space station that orbits the planet, has our young cast, or Launchies as their called, raised on war games and taught the laws of engagement to prepare for the war.  The school’s commander, Graff, along with Major Anderson (Davis) see Ender’s true potential and leads some back and forth between the two on how far they are pushing him and if he’s truly the one to stop the war.

It’s at the school where we see Graff do whatever he think is necessary to make sure the students, especially Ender, are ready for the war. Even if it means treating them like they’re not children and that’s where Graff and Anderson bump heads and ultimately shows us how different they view the war.

The big highlight of the Battle School section of the movie is the Battle Room. A giant glass sphere where war simulations are played out in zero-gravity and where the children divided up into teams to wage war against each other.   Through these games Ender and his fellow cadets learn tactics and strategy and again learn to become leaders and killers. The zero-gravity scenes look a bit cheesy at first especially when it’s only one of two people but once we see the room filled with everyone flying around and battling it they become great scenes to see.

Unlike my other reviews, I don’t be talking about the final act of the movie to save you from nothing anything. Needless to say, it will make question everything you’ve seen.

As far as the acting goes, this is Asa Butterfield’s show. He does a great job of balancing the emotions and the intensity of Ender as he’s put through the ringer with all the tests and showing how effective he can be as a leader. Harrison Ford’s Graff is a puppet master of sorts, coming off as caring but then completely changes once the stakes get raised. Butterfield and Ford, next to Davis, have the strongest performances in the movie and leads to a great scene between the two at the very end.

The rest of the cast does okay with their roles but nothing really great. Hailee Steinfield’s sharp-shooting cadet Petra has more to do in the movie than she does in the book and Moises Arias miss-cast as bully Bonzo kind of fits but really does nothing. Ben Kingsley as former war hero Mazer Rackham really does nothing for the movie when he pops up in the third act.  Abigail Breslin, who plays Ender’s sister Valentine, probably does the best job of the supporting cast (next to Davis and Ford of course). Her compassion for her brother plays a factor on who Ender by the end.

You may have noticed I’ve only about one reference to the book. I do believe you shouldn’t compare the movie to the book too much. The movie does make changes from the book. Valentine and Peter (Ender’s older brother played by Jimmy Pinchak) are very downplayed, with Peter only getting two scenes and Valentine have a handful. That being said the ending is different. There are some minor changes and things that are not even mentioned; Thirds, the governments, the aliens are given a name, the Mind Game (which doesn’t really work) and more importantly the ages of the characters. I personally didn’t mind so much of the changes but I know some fans will.

All in all, Ender’s Game is a pretty descent adaptation. Despite its changes from the book it still manages to work in the end. The effects are great and acting by Butterfield and Ford makes the message at the end mean more.

Ender’s Game

4 out of 5

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Anticipated Movies of 2013 Part 3 (Last One)

Last part of my anticipated movies for 2013

Oct

4th: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

            Many people have been waiting for a sequel to one of the few great comic book adaptations and after years of waiting directors Frank Millar (one of the creators of the original source material) and Robert Rodriguez are going to fulfill our wishes.

 

11th: Oldboy

            One of the best revenge thrillers I’ve seen and one of the best Korean movies as well. Even though many people are against it some were eased into it when Spike Lee was announced as the director and Josh Brolin was cast as the lead with Sharlto Copley as the villain and rising star Elizabeth Olsen joining too. Brolin has been talking up how the film has original director Chan-wook Park’s blessing and is not holding back on the brutality and dark tones.

           

18th: Malavita, The Seventh Son, No Good Deed

            Malavita is directing by Luc Besson who in my mind always makes enjoyable movies. This one has a mob family being relocated and having to fit in. Although not awesome sounding Besson is not the one who makes “dramas” so we can only assume that theirs going to be some action. Seventh Son is a 18th century movie that deals with magic. No Good Deed stars Idris Elba and is directed by Sam Miller who has worked with Elba on his hit show Luther so I’m in.

25th: The World End

The last installment in their so called “Blood & Ice Cream” trilogy, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back again. This time dealing with five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. The rest of the cast includes semi-regular co-stars Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan.

 

Nov

1st: Ender’s Game

            I’ve never read Orson Scott Card’s book (I intend to do that before this comes out) which this is based on but a lot of people are very excited for this. I’m in for another reason, the impressive cast. Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley

 

8th: Thor: The Dark World

Although some thought Thor wasn’t a good movie or Marvel movie for that matter, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not just because it was a Marvel proptery that was setting up The Avengers but because it had such great performances by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. With The Dark World it’s promising an even dark tone that Thor was hinting at and who better to bring that then Alan Taylor, the man responsible for many great episodes of Game of Thrones

 

22nd: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen

Although I didn’t really enjoy Hunger Games as much as I thought I would I’m still looking forward to Catching Fire since it’s a pretty nice set up for the final installments. Disney going for another hit animated movie in Frozen which is about a young girl named Anna journey to find Snow Queen and end the perpetual winter prophecy that has fallen over their kingdom.

 

Dec

13th: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I was very surprised with An Unexpected Journey and I can’t wait to see what Peter Jackson and Co. do next.

 

20th: Anchorman: The Legend of Continues, Saving Mr. Banks,

            Anchorman was probably one of the funniest/dumbest (dumb in a good way) movies I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Saving Mr. Banks is about how Walt Disney tried to get Mary Poppins to the big screen and how better to play Walt then Tom Hanks himself right?

 

25th: 47 Ronin, Jack Ryan

            47 Ronin has been delayed multiple times within the last two years for various reasons and it looks like it’s finally coming out. Set in the 18th century it centers on a band of samurai who set out to avenge the death of their master and who’s playing one of the samurai’s? That’s right Keanu Reeves. Jack Ryan is a Tom Clancy’s creation that has been played by Alec Baldwin (Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears) but now will be played by rising star Chris Pine and I for one can not wait.