Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ender's Game - A Review

From the off I'll just state that it's unfortunate that the man who wrote the book upon which the film Ender's Game was based is the reason why so many of those who chose to boycott it won't be viewing it. I understand that there is a lot of anger and quite possibly a bit of hatred out there for Orson Scott Card because of the fact that he chose to share his ridiculous opinions, but the film and the book, for that matter, don't represent or support the negative opinions of the author. So, whether you see it or not, let me get into what I enjoyed about the movie Ender's Game.

Humanity is preparing for war, frightful and driven by their hatred toward an extraterrestrial enemy which suddenly appeared and threatened them fifty years prior to the period of the main story. Since that time humans have gone further out into space and evolved their methods for combating this ominous foe. Children have been recruited to train as leaders in the coming war because of their abilities to learn and adapt in a manner superior to adults. This is the universe of Ender's Game.

This movie was the type of science-fiction film which excites me. In design and composition, it closely resembles a future which could very well be our own. Like all great science-fiction it explores who we might be and how we might function in the future. It's a film with advanced technology and aliens, but most importantly it's a movie about humanity and life. 

The components of Ender's Game which really made the film for me were the cast and the design. An exceptional cast brought to life a variety of deep and complex characters. Ender was well represented by Asa Butterfield, who managed to display the curiosity and sensitivity of a child while maintaining the calculating, tactical, and sometimes cold demeanor of Ender Wiggin. Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, and others filled out the cast wonderfully as people who both shaped and shared the life of the main character in a universe of impending war. 

In regard to the design of the film, it appears that those in charge of its look chose to build upon our currently technology to create a future which feels not only possible but, in some ways, probable. The station upon which Ender and his fellow cadets train appears to be an extended International Space Station, though with segments supporting artificial gravity (if only we had something like that available currently). The carriers and other ships appeared to be logical projections of what our current battle and space exploration tech might be in a future of a little more than half a century away. These decisions grounded the film so well that I found myself at times experiencing the awe I feel whenever I read or behold dazzlingly prophetic sci-fi. 

There were points in the film which could have been better developed in my opinion. For one thing, the ending lacked the power it deserved, especially considering what occured. I think it's safe to say that it fell a little flat toward the closing portion. Also, there were portions of character development and story progression which felt rushed. I don't feel like we were given enough time with Ender as he made his way through training toward the end. Overall, the story either needed more screen time for proper development or an adjustment of some of the less important portions, though this is only my opinion.

Regardless of the poor and public decisions of Orson Scott Card, specifically in regard to the expression of his opinions, I think that those who appreciate the novel and the science-fiction genre will love this film. From what I've gathered it's release was one which caused many long-time fans to grow a bit more than concerned, but I think many of them, if they can accept this as an adaptation (something that is based on the book and not a direct filming of the book), will enjoy it for what it is. For everyone else, I think it will be entertaining as just an exciting space tale about humanity in the future as we deal with who we are and how we interact with other forms of life in the cosmos. This will be one of those films science-fiction folks will be discussing for quite some time, I think.

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