Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Movie Review: "Ender's Game" (2013)

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Movie"Ender's Game"
Director: Gavin Hood
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

The Formics, an alien race which attacked Earth many years ago, nearly decimated the human race in a war with Earth. The International Military has made it their business to recruit child prodigies and groom them to fight potential battles with the Formics. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is in training to become a soldier. He is quiet and reserved on the outside but shows great promise and has caught the attention of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) as the potential savior of the human race. Ender shows both compassion and aggression, and has a knack for understanding his enemies, where they come from, and who they are; this helps him to defeat them, and to defeat them permanently. Ender must engage in a series of training games that will test him to see if he has what it takes to fight the Formics, if necessary, and to save the human race.

Another book-to-movie adaptation that we have yet to read. From what we gather, the book goes into much more detail and covers a larger time span than in the movie. Ender begins his training at the age of 6 in the book, and he is 10-12 years old in the movie. This is only one of the many, many changes, from the research we've done on the book versus the movie. We don't want to go too deep into the differences since we haven't actually read the book, because we'd rather judge the movie by itself...

...not that it needs any more opportunities to suck on its own...

Asa Butterfield is 16 in real life and is playing a younger role in Ender. He is smaller for his age, but he definitely comes off as a teenager, not as someone who is 10-12 years old. His acting is distracting. He's British, but has an American accent in the movie, and seems to be trying really, really hard to keep it steady. The only other character as annoying as Ender was Bonzo, played by Moises Arias...we don't know if his character is supposed to be a short, squirrel kid with a Napoleon complex, but that's how he was portrayed in the film, and it was ANNOYING AS HELL. It seemed like a phony, over-the-top, unnecessary anger, not genuine dislike for Ender...it looked more like a peacock trying to fluff his feathers to show his greatness.

The entire story needed greater detail. The training processes and the challenges Ender faces seem truncated and often glossed over. That being said, the film is also poorly paced, so adding more detail may have made it even slower than it already was. I personally didn't know how long this movie was and assumed we had been in the theater for 2 hours and 15 minutes...nope, it's not even 2 hours long. The story could have been afforded the attention that a two and a half hour movie garners, had it been better paced.

There are some good points to this movie, though. The special effects are solid. The part where the kids are in the Battle Room is incredible! The overall message of the story is an interesting one, and there are some points in the film that are entertaining, but the director seems to have failed to connect them properly to one another. Along those same lines, the director seems to have failed to connect the entire story and its characters to the audience as a whole. The short span of time that Ender invests in his training, due to the filmmaker's lack of investment in the time the story took overall, diminishes our understanding for what Ender endures to being with. What do I care that this kid feels guilty about his actions? I don't, and that's the problem. Plus, Butterfield's portrayal of Ender made us not care because he came off as more of a whiny child than a strong adolescent leader.

Overall, something was missing from this movie. We don't know what it is, but it's not there. There was no connection to us as far as the story goes, and we are huge sci-fi movie fans. There was no "movie magic." For as much money as filmmakers spent on this movie, it didn't do very well versus its counterparts, like "Thor: The Dark World," which did amazingly and came out only a few weeks apart from "Ender's Game." The lack of storytelling and attention to detail, the annoying protagonist, and poor direction makes this movie just another sci-fi throwaway that didn't live up to its potential.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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