The road to the silver screen has been a long one for Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, from the 1977 short story expanded to a Hugo and Nebula winning novel in 1985 which was revised in 1991, there have been attempts, mainly by author Orson Scott Card, to adapt it for fifteen years, and two directors and multiple writers later, including a failed 2003 attempt from Game of Thrones ‘ David Benioff and D B Weiss, it is Gavin Hood who has finally brought it to life as both writer and director. The cast is high profile, Harrison Ford returning to the genre that made his name after the failure of 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens, Ben Kingsley, just seen in Iron Man 3, and in the crucial lead role is Asa Butterfield who has been acting since he was nine, all of seven years ago. The source novel and the author are praised and derided in equal measure for various reasons, but the questions are how faithful will the adaptation be and whether the teen cast will lead the studio to regard this as a film for children or whether the themes of warfare and genocide will draw an adult audience. Judging by the reactions of the Geek Chocolate team, they have their work cut out for them.
Matthew Rutland – So, another high gloss MTV music video movie following the vein of the Hunger Games and Twilight, substituting style for content? At first for the beginning 45 secs I actually thought this was a sequel to Independence day, until all the GI Joe looking children started infiltrating the screen.
It looks like there will be some good if very repeated and unoriginal visuals in this, and a story that has been done so many times before and a lot better by the looks of it (my personal preference would be Dark Angel over this). I fear Hollywood is running out of source material and originality, what next, Michael Bay to bring us the Old Testament?
Michael Flett – I’ve only read the first book in the sequence, and I honestly found it quite odious. While this seems to follow the narrative, the details have been changed, though whether for practicality or as a conscious and specific change of direction, or more likely a combination of the two, I can’t say.
The children are a lot older, from under ten in the book to mid teens here, and there appears to be a lot less nudity. Both these things troubled me in the book – the children couldn’t possibly be having the conversations or dealing with the situations, it’s just ridiculous. And the naked frolicking, it’s like some idyllic Grecian summer camp only with bullying, beatings, strategy training and older men looking on. The whole thing is messed up.
I can’t understand the reverence the book is held in – it’s a desperately bad wish fulfillment book, the unwanted youngest child picked from obscurity because only he has the talent and insight to become the great leader who will save our planet and win the admiration of his entire species, not to mention those older men in their stiff uniforms.
And none of this even addresses the whole “we’re going to take children and condition them to have no conscience so they will kill upon our command and know no wrong in it.” I had hoped that this would become a satire, as with Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, but it looks to be a kid’s action adventure flick, and while well done, hopefully some of the conscience that Orson Scott Card hastily backpedalled and shoehorned into the last chapter after our hero has committed genocide might creep in sooner.
I don’t know Asa Butterfield, though I understand he can act; Harrison Ford seems particularly taciturn as Colonel Graff, who nurtures and develops a “special relationship” with Ender, and both he and Ben Kingsley as the legendary Mazer Rackham can be relied upon. I understand that the subplot involving Ender’s siblings Peter and Valentine has been reduced, which is a shame, as they are far more interesting characters, and Abigail Breslin is excellent, but the performance I’m nost looking forward to is the brilliant Hailee Steinfeld as Ender’s comrade in arms Petra. The film apparently also includes material from Ender’s Shadow, which introduces Bean, and will hopefully give the story some kind of depth or balance.
A lot of people disliked director Gavin Hood’s Wolverine, though I didn’t think it was that bad, Rendition was excellent, and he has worked with young actors in challenging roles of difficult situations in Tsotsi, so fingers crossed he’ll get the best of the cast, though visually it looks very generic.
Les Anderson – Hmmm, Starship Troopers for teens who love big explosions and lots and lots of CGI. Sir Harrison looks suitably grizzled and the saucer-eyed waif from Hugo hasn’t half grown up. I presume this is pitched at the Hunger Games market?
Gordon Robertson – I know nothing about it all, never heard of the book or the film!
The trailer looks vaguely interesting in a generic sci-fi way, though that’s probably due to the cast and the production values. I’d be looking for good reviews and word of mouth before I went to see it.
Adam Dworak – Was this supposed to be a trailer or a teaser or a teaser for a trailer? I’m so tired of what Hollywood does to build momentum. At least show me something that is worth watching, worth the wait. What I just saw was rubbish, and yet it still manages to tell the entire plotline of the film in sequence in two minutes – why even bother going to see the film after this?
I admit I’ve never read the book but I did read the Wiki entry, and this doesn’t feel like what I was expecting – it feels flat. I wanted danger, the sense that humanity was on the verge of extinction, and I don’t feel any emotional pressure or the dilemma of Ender’s strategy games.
It looks like Independence Day with the fighter jets and the swarming alien craft, and I can’t recall the last time Harrison Ford gave a good performance. Every part he plays these days he has the same mannerisms and the same diction. He’s supposed to be an actor, and a good one, but it feels like he’s not connecting with anything any more. He’s trying but it’s just not there.
There are a lot of aspects of TheForever War from what I can see, with the training camp and the hive mind of the aliens an
d the whole war being a misunderstanding between the cultures, except Joe Haldeman did it first and he did it better. We’ve heard so many rumours about it happening and then not happening, please somebody just make that and do it well – somebody other than Ridley Scott.
Ender’s Game is scheduled for release on 1st November 2013