Monday, November 4, 2013

Ender's Game: The Good, The Bad and The Awesome

The first film of the 2013 Christmas movie season, "Ender's Game" is in theaters now! Here's what I thought:

The Good- 

  • Most of the cast is excellent. 
  • The costumes are great
  • The "Bugs" are incredible! CGI at its best. 
  • I'm a huge fan of the book, and I will say that they did a decent job of adapting it. The basic story is intact.
  • The battle room is really cool
  • The weightless scenes are awesome, though I had to cover my eyes a couple of times, because I'm prone to dizziness.

The Bad- My son says I'm too critical. But, there are some problems with this film. 

  • The actor they chose to play Bonzo is Moses Arias. I think he was great on "The Middle" as Sue's wrestler boyfriend, and he is a solid actor. However, he is way too small in stature to play Bonzo, who is supposed to be intimidating and a bully. In confrontation with Ender, he looked more like a Chihuahua trying to intimidate a German Shepherd. It was distractingly poor casting. 
  • I completely accept that to adapt a book into film form, many changes must be made. But almost no time was spent establishing Ender's family relationships, his deep fear and hatred of his cruel brother, his complete devotion to his sister, his parent's distant love, etc. There is also very little time spent in battle school and commander school. I know, it's necessary, but it just felt so rushed. I felt like if I hadn't read the book recently, I might not have understood Ender as well-- he had very limited character development. 
  • Unfortunately, the movie spends almost no time on the secondary characters in Ender's circle of friends. Some of them are great characters, and I was sad that they only had seconds of screen time here and there. 
  • The most glaring problem in the movie, for me, though, was the casting of Asa Butterfield as Ender. Yes, he looks the part. However, he is very stiff onscreen, with limited facial expressions and emotion. This may have been exacerbated by the fact that he had to use an American accent-- Asa is British. Some of his line delivery was just off. More than once he seemed to slow down his speech and then hit accents on the wrong syllables. Another unfortunate distraction.
The Awesome-
  • The special effects really stole the show. There are some incredible images in the movie, of outer space, the alien world(s), the aliens, the ships at war, an asteroid belt outside the alien planet in the final simulation, etc. The filmmakers made incredible use of CGI and whatever other digital magic they have at their disposal. 
  • Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford all delivered, as expected. I think they didn't get enough screen time, especially Davis. 
Final verdict: "Ender's Game" is fun and entertaining. The violence is limited, there is nothing inappropriate, and the ending is deep and has a good moral. It will make you think.

No comments: