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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








Summer Movie Preview: August

OK, not too much witty stuff here today, there’s just too many movies coming out in August.  Enjoy the trailers and maybe some of our ramblings on some of the movies being released over the next few weeks.

The Smurfs 2

Release Date: August 2nd (well, really it was released today)

Synopsis: The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation – creatures called the Naughties – into real Smurfs. The film is being directed again by Raja Gosnell, with all the main cast returning (Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, etc). New cast includes Christina Ricci and J. B. Smoove as members of the Naughties, and Brendan Gleeson as Patrick Winslow’s stepfather.

Our Thoughts:

Dave: I didn’t let the first Smurfs movie ruin my cherished childhood Smurf-related memories I am sure as hell not going to start now by seeing this one. (Strange, my spell check doesn’t recognize “Smurf-related” as a word…maybe it’s not supposed to be hyphenated.)

Jennie: OK, I love Neil Patrick Harris but, this movie isn’t for me. Not that I think it looks (too) terrible, but it is geared towards a much younger audience. Some family movies are fun for adults too, but I don’t think this one fits into that category.

Rob: I’m sure this will bring some joy to some children, but not nearly as much joy as that felt by those actors’ agents. Yay, 10%!

Felix: Raja Gosnell took a great Scooby Doo script in which they had a bunch of adult themed jokes into the incomprehensible piece of garbage we saw. He did the same for the Smurfs. Just saying, this is going to suck.

Dave: Wait…you know the writer of Scooby Doo??

Felix: Read the original screenplay.

Jennie: Wait, you read the original screenplay for the Scooby Doo Movie???

Felix: Yes

Nicole: We saw the first one and I wouldn’t say it was awful, it did have some funny parts but it was slow and not great overall. I’m not really looking forward to this one even though I love NPH. My daughter however has been counting the days until it comes out. I haven’t been gutsy enough yet to tell her that we will not be seeing it on opening weekend

(more…)








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








Trailer: Paranoia

Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, and Liam Hemsworth are involved in some corporate espionage as Oldman hires Hemsworth to steal trade secrets from Ford. Hemsworth soon finds himself in over his head though, and just wants to get out.

Paranoia is directed by  (21, Legally Blonde) and stars , and .

*Photo and trailer courtesy Relativity Media








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 .








Dave’s Movie Review: 42

Letter Grade:
(?)

A
The Good:

Good Believable Acting
Nice Bio Pic
Powerful/Entertaining Story


The Bad:

Pacing was a little slow at times, but nothing major to complain about.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Brian Helgeland
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language

I’m going to preface this review with a disclaimer: If you’ve read my bio (and who wouldn’t want to spend time reading a bio about a random movie nerd on the internet? It’s fun for the whole family!…maybe…I honestly can’t remember if it’s appropriate for kids. The internet has ruined my memory), you’ll remember me professing my borderline unhealthy love for movies. My love for movies is very closely rivaled by my love of baseball. Summer Catch aside, there are very few baseball movies I don’t enjoy. I’ve literally lost count of how many times I’ve watched all 1,380 minutes (that’s 23 hours) of the Ken Burns Baseball documentary (…ugggh… I’ve wasted my life). I love baseball and I love baseball history…a lot. So it goes without saying that I was a tad bit excited to see “42.”

42, of course, is the real life story of Jackie Robinson and his trials during his (and Branch Rickey’s) attempt to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The movie begins in the spring of 1946 with Branch Rickey (the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers) devising a plan to be the first team to allow an African American player in the Major Leagues. Rickey carefully chooses Robinson who then spends the entire 1946 season in the minor leagues and finally (after plenty of nasty racism along the way) gets the call up to the big leagues for the 1947 season. The remainder of the movie chronicles Robinson’s struggle to overcome hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and his urges to fight back as the Dodgers (in no small part thanks to Robinson) go on to win the 1947 National League Championship.

(more…)








OMG, an Ender’s Game Trailer Actually Exists!

Ender's Game

Variety reports on Lionsgate’s presentation at Cinemacon today. Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Harrison Ford were on-hand to present an extended look at the Ender’s Game movie, and the trailer was premiered. The trailer will be attached to Star Trek Into Darkness, being released May 17th. Per Variety, Ford “promised that the movie will touch moviegoer’s hearts.” (more…)