Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movie Review: Ender's Game

So my NaNoWriMo is progressing nicely. I wrote 3759 words yesterday, which puts me at 16062 words for NaNo and 29756 for Desolate Mantle. It's coming along beautifully and as I speed toward the climax, I get more and more excited about it.

Meanwhile, I actually managed to see not one but two movies this weekend. One, Ender's Game, is reviewed below. The other, Thor: Dark World, is reviewed HERE, on my other blog, if you want to check it out.

I'm not going to go into the plot, as I just reviewed the book yesterday and talked a lot about that. (Book review here.) I'm just going to discuss how they did with the film

With what was there, they mostly did a good job. I liked all the actors who portrayed the characters, and the battle room where all the mock battles were held was definitely awesome. Of course, lots of those battles and Ender's strategies got cut, but that's to be expected. Some of it is really hard to translate onto the screen (internal dialogue always is) and then there's the fact that it was a two hour film, so not all the detail would have made it in, anyway.

The one scene I wish they would have spent more time on was the scene where Valentine and Ender talk at the lake. It was such a poignant scene (totally cried while reading it) and it felt like they glossed over it. It was still kind of sad in the film, but it just wasn't as deep or moving as is in the book. In fact, in the book, both she and Ender knew she was only supposed to be there to talk him into what Graff wanted. Luckily, they ended up making a much bigger emotional connection to one another. In the film...yeah, she was just there to make him do what Graff wanted. I felt like it really cheapened the scene and short-changed the characters.

The other thing I didn't really like, though I suppose it's to be expected, is that they really toned down the brutality. Ender didn't get beat up nearly as much in the film as in the book. I suppose it was a kubaya, anti-bullying thing, which I get, but the story just doesn't pack near as much emotional punch if we don't get to see Ender claw through his trials. This to me felt like a case of the film makers showing us what they think we most want to see, rather than what the story actually said. I could go off about how we seem to be coddling our kids these days, even in the stories we put in front of them, but that's a discussion for another day, so I'll leave it alone. Just know if you're looking for the profound emotion of the book, it won't be there. Read about it instead.

But, like I said, what actually made it into the film was usually pretty good. Except...for the end. It wasn't that anything was vastly changed. All the plot twists were there, and they didn't take much away, but I still wasn't a huge fan of how they did the ending. It had to do with Ender's reaction, and his argument with Graff afterward. They even kept in a lot of the lines from the book, but I wasn't a fan of the way they interpreted them. 

The way they did it made Graff seem profoundly undignified, and the human race as a whole monstrous. Now, I don't necessarily think that what was done in the story was completely correct--that's sort of the point--but at least in the book it's stressed that the leaders felt like it was their only choice. I felt like the movie was a bit Hollywoodized, in a bad way. It made it feel like the entire human race wanted genocide and got it, just based on their own pride and egos, and not for any other reason. I felt like it did a profound disservice to the characters and the story. Graff in particular, but all around, too. Of course, details from the book like the afterward were left out of the movie, but how could they not be? With an ending like that, the afterward, in which Graff is honored, wouldn't make much sense to the audience. I felt like that final exchange between Graff and Ender in the film really changed the meaning of the ending. And I didn't like it.

So, overall it was valiant effort, and despite all the negative things I've said, I really didn't hate it. I just want those who loved the book to be prepared. There were many aspects of it that were cool and fun to watch. As it's very family friendly, it would be a great one to take the kids to. They'd think the battle school and simulators were really cool. I'm glad I got to see it, though in all honesty, I doubt I'll see it again. I just wish, with all the technology we have, Hollywood could figure away to get closer to the purity of an author's story. But, I suppose that's wishful thinking.

Has anyone else seen Ender's Game? What did you think of it?

1 comment :

  1. I agree. I didn't like the way they turned Graff into a self-righteous monster at the end of the movie either.

    I also didn't like how they skimmed through Battle School so quickly... I felt the movie would definitely have benefited from being an extra 40 minutes long. :)