Ender's Game

Time to stare out some viewports.
"The future must be won."

Good evening all and welcome back to The Tagline! My apologies for the late review, but it's been... kind of a week. No doubt you have all languished in agony in the intervening hours, wondering what I was doing, and why I had not shared my ESSENTIAL opinions about film with you, on this, the designated day. WELL FEAR NO MORE I'm here now to talk about Ender's Game, based on the iconic science fiction novel of the same name, written by Orson Scott Card (Who has entertained the idea of adapting the book into a movie for some time, I'll get into that a little bit later. Ender's Game, for the uninitiated, is not about a game really, but it is about a boy who has a spectacularly stupid name (Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, ouch mom and dad) who is training to be a strategist. You see, it is the future, and a race of bioelectric charged space bugs tried in the past to colonize the Earth, but were repelled by the combined forces of the human race, and some guy named Rakasakam Robot or something stopped them by crashing his plane into their mothership. The bug aliens (The Formics they're called because they are flying ant-like) have retreated back to their home planet, but the Earth government, fearing their return, is determined to launch a preemptive strike to wipe them all out. At the outset of the movie Ender is seconded for training in battle school, by Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) who believes that Ender is the brilliant strategist they have been looking for.

Look, more viewport staring.
As it turns out, they are pretty spot on in that regard. Ender is one super smart child prodigy, even if he has social challenges, like how he has no friends and has a tough time getting along with anyone. He sort of gets over that though, making some friends in his battle school despite the attempts by Graff to keep him isolated (which apparently is important to his development as a super murderer of aliens). In battle school Ender learns how to think outside the box, and then how to lead others, by training in zero gravity skirmishes against other students, amongst other things (presumably we just don't spend lots of time watching all of the exciting lectures and tests that Ender gets to enjoy, not that I'm not sure that wouldn't have been a delightfully gripping film) So let's talk about the spectacular laser training battles for a little while why not.

Does this count as a viewport? You be the judge.
There are a lot of them. As a matter of fact most of what we see is laser battles,and this other sequence where Ender plays this game on his iPad or whatever the hell they're called in 2096 or whenever it is. The visual effects are cool, and the battle scenes are neat, but I couldn't help but feel like the movie was just being padded out with special effects to keep the crowd entertained while they spread out scenes with actual character development. This isn't to say that we don't learn things about Ender during the training sequences, we do, or that it doesn't advance the plot, it does after a fashion. The sequences are cool too, but they feel a little bit like... I don't know it's like how the early Harry Potter movies were full of Quiddich sequences. They were neat to look at and everything, but they didn't really serve any purpose beyond that.

Where is he looking? My guess is a viewport.
At the most basic point I think that was the problem with Ender's Game. It had a lot of spectacle, plenty of action, and it was well paced, but it felt a little detached and a bit hollow. I enjoyed watching it, but I don't know that I would really watch it again, because it was high in special effects and kind of short in actual character development or human drama. Even if you haven't read the book before, I think that the conclusion of the movie was very predictable, and seeing it so far away I think really detracts from the impact it's supposed to have. Ultimately I think I would've like to have seen more character interaction, and less fancy special effects scenes.It probably would have been a doubly beneficial decision on the part of the movies production. While it has grossed around 56 million dollars so far, and only started its run fairly recently Ender's Game needs to clear 110 million dollars to break even. That's a pretty tall order.

Harrison Ford bosses around some children.
Orson Scott Card, for those curious, wrote six separate screenplays over the years (the first in 2003), before penning the early form of the screenplay that Gavin Hood would eventually develop into the movie. Scott Card had jealously defended the movie rights to Ender's Game to ensure that he retained creative control over any eventual adaptation. I personally was just glad that the movie was devoid of Scott Card's religious beliefs and bigotry, as some of his other works went to... kind of a weird place. My final verdict for the movie is pretty eh. It was entertaining to watch, well written, but ultimately a little light on content. If oyu see it, I think you should see it in the theater, as that enhances the spectacle aspect.

That's all for today! Join me next time, for maybe Thor?

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