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Rob’s Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

A-
The Good:

Good acting from the teen leads.
Ending well-paced.
Top notch visual effects.


The Bad:

Tries to cram a lot of story into 2 hours of movie. Feels rushed.

Cast & Crew:

Directed by: Gavin Hood
Written by: Gavin Hood
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis

Rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.

“I didn’t want to see you.”
“They told me.”
“I was afraid that I’d still love you.” ― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I need to start this review off with a disclaimer. Ender’s Game is my favorite book of all time, and that puts me in a tricky spot here. The desire to see it on the big screen has fought mightily with the fear that they’d just screw it up. They didn’t screw it up, but they didn’t quite hit it out of the park either.

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.comAndrew “Ender” Wiggen is a child who has been drafted into the International Fleet, who are training child soldiers to lead their space fleets against the Formics, aliens who invaded Earth 50 years previously. Asa Butterfield plays Ender,  Abigail Breslin is Ender’s sister who is left behind on Earth as Ender is taken to the orbiting Battle School where students/soldiers train in armies and fight wargames in Zero-G. Hailee Steinfeld is one of Ender’s fellow child soldiers, and Harrison FordBen Kingsley, and Viola Davis are in charge of the training program. The performances are quite good throughout, which is especially impressive given the young age of most of the cast.

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.comI was torn when I heard Gavin Hood would be writing and directing. On the one hand, he wrote and directed Tsotsi, which is good. On the other hand he also directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is not good. Especially when you consider that the worst part of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (except for maybe the unwieldy title) were the special effects, which seemed about half finished.  With so much of Ender’s Game being Zero-G battles of one kind or another, it was always going to be a special effects-heavy film and I had serious doubts about whether Hood could handle that. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by how the effects turned out, they’re really exceptional throughout.

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.comTo the extent that the movie does falter, it’s in the writing. I don’t think Hood ever really figured out how to fit 350 pages of story into 120 pages of script. He hits on all the high points of the original story, but there’s not enough time to spend on any of them to really build the tension and emotional connection that are needed. As a result, the first 3/4 of the movie feels very rushed.  What the first 3/4 lacks in heart, though, the last 1/4 makes up for in soaring music. As a fan of the books I could criticize it about all kinds of niggling details like the location of Command School, or colonial governorships, but I won’t. Within the context of the movie the end works very well. It’s well paced and hits the right notes, and you leave the theater on a high note.

Ender’s Game has good acting, great visuals, and is generally a faithful adaptation of the book. I felt it could have used another half hour or so to reinforce the perils of Battle School, but if they did that most people would probably be complaining that it was too slow…








Trailer Tuesday: Final Ender’s Game Trailer

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.com

The final Ender’s Game trailer is out today. More battle scenes, some lake shots, a little more Battle Room, a lot of space scenes…

Ender’s Game tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a boy who is recruited by the military and sent to a space station with other child soldiers to train battle the alien Formics. Directed by , and starring , and . It comes to theaters November 1st.

 

*Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment








New Videos: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game on Cinedraft.com

The Ender’s Game movie is at Comic-Con this week, and along with that comes two new preview videos.

The first is a Battle School recruitment video:

And the second is a bit more fleshed out as an intro and covers Mazer Rackham’s exploits in the first invasion:

Ender’s Game tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a boy who is recruited by the military and sent to a space station with other child soldiers to train battle the alien Formics. Directed by , and starring , and . It comes to theaters November 1st.

*Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment








Teaser Trailer: Ender’s Game

The first trailer for the Ender’s Game movie has been released! Now please excuse me for a few hours while I geek out…

Ender’s Game tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a boy who is recruited by the military and sent to a space station with other child soldiers to train battle the alien Formics. Directed by , and starring , and .

 








First Video From Ender’s Game Movie

Ender's Game

In the teaser… to the teaser… to the full trailer… to the movie coming out in November  and  tell us that the teaser will be available on Google and Youtube next week, and then some brief clips from the film are shown.

I’m not entirely sure  actually knows what “Google” and “Youtube” are…

Ender’s Game tells the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a boy who is recruited by the military and sent to a space station with other child soldiers to train battle the alien Formics. Directed by , and starring , , and .








Summer Movie Preview: May

Summer movie season is upon us with the release of Iron Man 3 this Friday, so the Cinedraft staff felt now would be a good time to take a look at what is coming up this summer.  We start out with what’s coming out in May…

Iron Man 3

Release Date: May 3rd

Synopsis: Robert Downey Jr returns for another go-round as Tony Stark as he faces off against Ben Kingsley’s Manderin. Shane Black directs, and this will get Felix exceedingly excited. Also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, and either Don Cheadle or Terrence Howard, depending on how the coin flip turned out this time.

Our Thoughts:

Rob: This will be the real kick-off of the summer season. I’m not completely sold on Kingsley as the Mandarin, but I read that after seeing the Iron Man 3 finale Joss Whedon was upset because he didn’t know how he’d be able to top it for The Avengers 2, so expectations are pretty high.

Dave: I’m excited for Iron Man 3, I really am. I don’t doubt it will be a well made action film filled with funny Robert Downey Jr. one-liners. I suppose my only real worry about this film would apply to all Post-Avengers Marvel Universe movies… If the bad guy in Iron Man 3 is such bad news, why not just call in the rest of the Avengers to easily defeat him? Did they all have plans for the weekend that they couldn’t cancel? Seems like the conflict in this movie could be resolved by having the Hulk go in and slap Ben Kingsley around for a few minutes… problem solved.

Jennie: I am really looking forward to this movie. I think Robert Downey Jr is great and I generally have liked the Marvel movies over the last few years (not Ghost Rider of course). I like Ben Kingsly a lot and his voice sounds kind of awesome in the trailer, but I’m not sure how it will work with him as a action movie bad guy. I have no doubt that it’s going to be an entertaining movie. (more…)