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movie review: Ender’s Game

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Ender’s Game is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve ever read. I loved the ideas behind it; the characters, the themes, political background, and all that good stuff. The most impressive thing about the book is the author’s prediction of the future. Back in 1980s when this book was written, internet and portable electronics were nonexistence but now they’re a mainstream thing like how it was written in the book. Ever since I saw the movie trailer, I’ve been anticipating this movie far more than anything that was coming out in the remainder of the year. Well after seeing the movie, I have some “thoughts” about this adaptation.

Honestly, I came out of the theater a bit disappointed. Putting that aside for now, let me get to the good stuff.  First off, the movie nailed the futuristic setting; Earth, the people, battle school, the overall look of it. The battle room portrayed in this film is about as something as I imagined except much more immersing and and beautiful. It’s no surprise the entire thing is CG but damn it looks so good. I really wish they taken advantage of that more. The final battle is just incredible cinematically. I wouldn’t mind seeing that again in IMAX without paying. Visual effects people did an excellent job fully realizing that battle. It was hard to imagine animating millions of buggers attacking the fleet and the fighters protecting the main ship in that formation.

The actors did an excellent job playing their characters. Asa Butterfield playing as Ender stood out the most for me as he acted much better than I expected. It was hard to imagine how Ender would act since most of the time, book centers on his thought process but Ender is played pretty much perfectly, stoic yet intelligent. Harrison Ford as expected did well playing as Graff. As for as the rest of the acting goes, I have no complaints here. Everyone did their jobs rights.

And now for the bad. For a movie that’s been in development hell for more than 15 years, I expected better. And the author himself is involved with the script writing so here I thought there wasn’t going to be room for disappointment. Well, if your someone who has read the book, then you’ll be utterly crushed with the direction it went. First off, the pacing is too fast. We see Ender going from point A to point E in a matter of minutes. The other named kids only gets a few seconds of introduction, then they get glossed over most of the time leaving little room for character development and building friendship with Ender until the final battle. What really annoyed me is how much screen time Petra has gotten. I don’t know if was Hollywood pulling the strings here but it seems like they’re trying to hook up Ender and Petra. I never found her that compelling, even in the book. As glorious the CG is in the final battle, it looked far too real for a simulation which killed the plot twist. But even then, I don’t think the movie was trying to make it a twist because we see Graff and Mazer up in the corridor behind the glass just standing there making a couple commentaries. It’d be a lot more believable if the final battle all had wireframes on the ships or PS3 graphics early days. The theme of “does the end justify the means” fell flat because there wasn’t enough of the means laid out. Also, there wasn’t enough build up for Ender to give him the reason to redeem his actions by taking care of the bugger egg that was in the end of the movie. The one thing I did like better here than in the book is when Ender sees the one bugger guarding the eggs and it communicates by closely staring at him.

It’s not a bad movie if you look at it from a stand alone point but it’s disappointing considering how much time was spent on development. I’m not gonna pinpoint every little detail that was omitted and changed but read the book if you haven’t. It’s only about 300 pages and should take you less than a week to complete it or perhaps in several hours.

Rating: 6.5/10

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