They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

The End Of The Game

Last Sunday's movie excursion went pretty well, enough that with another nice November day forecast, we planned on doing it again. First time up and down the new steps and the new rigid iron pipe railing. MUCH easier -- you cannot imagine.

And sleep... let me tell you how much that has improved. Not just because I am getting used to the futon again, but yesterday we added a Bed Rug between our futon and the raised mattress frame. When we first discussed getting a platform, I pointed out we might have to add carpet and pad to cut down on the stiffness of plywood. The Bed Rug is a compressed coconut tree husk and latex product designed to provide some cushioning and air flow for the underside of the mattress -- or a futon. Works remarkably well.

So after a comfy night's sleep and a lovely Sunday breakfast of fresh stinky garlic bagels with our Sunday paper, we were ready for some more deep space adventure.

Ender's Game [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #4 1:50pm 2x$6.50

Given that we like this theatre and our choices were 2D or IMAX 2D, we drove to Holland for the short walk and great popcorn. (grin)

I have been waiting to see this movie for twenty years.

Aside #1 I do not require a novel, SF/F or otherwise, to become a movie to validate it. But... it is often very enjoyable to see someone take a book to a movie. It's A vision, not the ONLY vision. And truth be told, more people will watch the film than read the book. But... the movie may encourage people to seek out and read the book.

Aside #2 We caution new writers to take rejection with a grain of salt. All a rejection means is that an editor can't use your story right now. It could mean that it's awful. Or that the editor loved it, but it is too long, too short, too similar to another purchased story.
You are not your story.

Don't take rejections personally.

Except we often take things the other way -- Your story is not you.

Yes, I know that many people, including some of my friends, refuse to see this movie on account of the author Orson Scott Card. Yes, I know about his politics. Yes, I know his public stance on homosexuality. Yes, I know that he is both vocal about this and donates to organizations which oppose and would discriminate against homosexuality. Yes, I vigorously disagree.

Ender's Game is not Orson Scott Card any more than I am a serial killer -- though I have written stories about serial killers. Yes, some people refuse to go to concerts or listen to Wagner. Everyone has a choice, everyone gets their opinion.

The truth is that I read this novel when it came out in 1985. I've read most of the sequels though Ender's Shadow. I still like the story. I can't change that. All I can say is that I compare it to the following: While I did not like much of George W. Bush's policies, the man was the President of the United States and as such, I respect the office. (And therefore I expect those who oppose Barrack Obama to do likewise or shut up about liberal bias.)


Twenty years ago, Ender's Game couldn't have been filmed. Or if it had, the result would no doubt have been laughable. Of course, this is no Gravity either, in terms of its zero-gee simulation. No matter. It's close enough.

As with any novel-to-film, compression is necessary. In this case, they chose to telescope the time in Battle School, allowing them to use a single age for Ender or any of the other children. They also cut the whole Peter and Valentine Take Over The World plot. Just as well. It was an interesting, if not totally believable idea. Today with the real Internet, I don't think it very realistic to have only two opposing voices be so dominant. History has shown us a multitude of voices, some screaming to drown out any calm rational discussion -- two voices would drown in the real world. A 2013 version of Peter would be devious and political in a different way.

Harrison Ford is old enough and gruff enough to be Colonel Graff. Viola Davis is well cast as his lieutenant, er... major. Nonso Anozie as Sergeant Dap was well played, though his confidence boosting maneuver on Ender was repeated once too often for my taste. Asa Butterfield's Ender Wiggins was a good choice for age and height, considering they had collapsed the timeline. The rest of the children were well cast, and internationally and ethnically diverse enough to represent a world where the best and the brightest are needed for human survival.

It is not a secret that Ender's Game is about the cruel use of children to fight wars in a manner that adults aren't deemed sufficient to do the unthinkable fast enough. There is a reference to the prohibition against child soldiers -- and having the luxury of morals. It's a tough choice and one of the two or three central plot points that leave you thinking. I am reminded of reading about the U.S. Army changing the gun controls on the M1 Abrams tank to mimic video game controllers, thus taking advantage of all the "training" that the youth of America has received, courtesy of Sony PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo.

Besides time compression, they've also paired down the size of the Battle School class. That makes the movie more manageable to follow. As for the visuals, there are very nice ones. Two shuttle launches, done differently so it doesn't look like canned footage. A single Battle Room with Windows so we can see -- and not have the book's confusion of how a rotating station can open up to a zero-gee Battle Room which isn't rotating. (double-grin) The Command School visualizations are nicely done, even if the number and complexity of the battle simulations has been cut back. Frankly, science has been cut out of the last act -- relativity plays a huge role in the book.

The portable desk (tablet) functions and games aren't nearly the Sensawunder™ gee-whiz tech that one got in 1985. Witness the young woman two rows in front of us more content to play games on her phone than watch the movie.

If I had one great complaint about Ender's Game The Movie, it's not that it took twenty years or more to get where we could make it, but that it is ten to twenty years too late to have the same impact as the early readers got. It's not that they did a bad job of turning novel to movie, but that they possibly didn't reimagine it enough for today's audiences.

That's good for those of us who are fans of the book. Not so good for making the Big Blockbuster movie I'm sure the movie executives wanted. Whether they choose to invest in any of the sequels remains to be seen. Many fans consider Speaker of the Dead to be superior to Ender's Game, I find Xenocide to open with such a strong visualization of extreme OCD that it may be my favorite sequel. And then there's Ender's Shadow, which they should have shot alongside Ender's Game. (grin)

All of this without regard to the politics of Orson Scott Card.

Recommended (Allowing For Personal Reservations)

Trailers: One night only live simulcast of the Dr. Who 50th Anniversary Special. A reimagined "sequel" to Frankenstein, referring to the Monster surviving to modern times, then refighting the plot to Hellboy 2? Really? Frankenstein's Monster: Vampire Hunter? And of course the elegant looking The Hunger Games 2, er... Catching Fire. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

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