Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ender's Game

I've been waiting to see how they adapt this to the big-screen.

First off, I would say I like Ender's Game the novel. I was pretty young when I read it, like barely out of Primary school, but I liked it. Hence, I was somewhat stoked to hear it would be getting a film adaptation.

Anyway, I just watched and my first impressions is 'Wow, they cut a lot'. Granted, most adaptations do but Ender's game isn't really a very thick novel and it's just surprising how much was cut. Unfortunately, the cuts didn't do it much justice. 

The issue was that Ender's Game was really the story of Ender's childhood told over the span of several years. In the film, it's pretty much wham-bam climax. It's a story told over the span of several months, not years. You don't get to see Ender really grow up to become who he is. Instead he's set in stone at that point and ends up being a typical 'I must save the world' type of hero with a set character/archetype. The problem is that those types are most commonly associated with action films, where there's a lot of action on screen to distract from the fact that the character is pretty much static for the entire film. However, in Ender's game, there's a lot more downtime than there is action and even the action is less visceral because a lot of it ends up being space-fleet battles where Ender commands from his deck. 

Also, it feels somewhat disjointed. While I can get a lot of the plot because I've read the books, I suspect if I was seeing this for the first time, I would be somewhat lost. Because it never really explains a lot of things. Like why humanity felt the need to get rid of the bugs, or how they didn't just warp-space themselves straight away to the bugs homeplanet and kill them. Instead, they sent out several waves of ships over 80 years, while constantly improving the technology of their warp drives so the ships would arrive at roughly the same time, with the older ships being slower and the newer ships being faster. 

I do like that they kept the big reveal at the end, where Ender's Game isn't really a game at all. But that was pretty much the whole thing about the book, kinda like how Darth Vader's reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes back made the movie. 

Basically, it's a slightly below average movie because it just lacks a lot of things. It can't decide if it wants to be character-centric or action-centric and has too little of either. The space fleet battles aren't exciting enough because you watch them from Ender's POV and he's stuck in a nice stable command outpost instead of on the ship. The leaving out of important parts didn't help it either. However, surprisingly this was a film full of child actors didn't make me want to kill myself so that's good. Either way, I'd say 'stick with the book' and there are probably much better films coming out.