I’m back! Recently I received this comment on my profile from a reader, writing he hoped I would start posting on my blog again. Which made me really happy! So I told myself, you need to start blogging again! So now this turned out to be a very long blog post (as always). But hope people wants to read it anyway (haha). The day before I finally got to watch Ender’s Game in the cinemas. I read the book, the movie is based on, back in early spring this year, and have been waiting for the film release ever since. The reason why I even got motivated to read and watch Ender’s Game, was because of Asa Butterfield. I got to know this actor through Hugo, which I also watched in the cinemas and wrote about on my blog (you can read the post here). I was really impressed by this actor’s abilities, but I also fell for his British’s charm and stunning eyes, I guess (haha). His eyes are really incredible! So I have this habit, when I like a specific actor, and I find out they are appearing in a new movie which is based on a book, I very often end up reading the book. I guess it’s because I’m inpatient, so it’s a good way to kill some of the wait.
So I read the book and was thoroughly impressed. I usually never read sci-fi stories, but this wasn’t really about that. It was about so much more! I felt like it touched on some really deep topics on the human psyche. Just Ender’s thoughts alone were so complex and adult-like, even though he wasn’t more than between six and ten (I think?) in the book. I also enjoyed the whole tactics’ part, always waiting to see what Ender was able to come up with next.
But what I really loved about this book, was how simplistic it was written. I had just been reading Game of Thrones before this, which contains endless details of character’s clothes and sceneries, which sometimes really feels like overkill. So it was really nice to read something compact and different like Ender’s Game. But generally, I found it interesting to follow Ender’s character development throughout the novel. One was always fearing for him to give up or to go insane of the pressure from Battle School training. And Ender’s internal fights, trying to avoid becoming like Peter, his sadistic violent brother, but also trying to fulfil the enormous task on his shoulders, which sometimes calls for cruelty. But yeah, this was just such an intense story! Can totally recommend it.
So after having read the book, I was really looking forward to watching it as a movie. For example, how were they going to shoot the battle room scenes, the violent content and the mind game? Let alone the big finale! But when the trailer came out, I could see this movie had a pretty nice budget, so I relaxed. However, after Ender’s Game had its release in America, I still needed to wait almost a month for it here in Denmark. In the waiting time I couldn’t help reading some reviews and looking at the ratings, which made me a little bit nervous. The reviews seemed to be only so-so, as well as the ratings. But I still said: you need to watch it for yourself to decide. Which I’m glad I did!
Finally being able to watch the movie in the cinema, sitting in the soft armchair, watching the movie start, felt so surreal. I don’t know, I just felt that I’d been waiting forever to watch this, especially with tumblr previews as a constant reminder! (haha) Somehow I was surprised to hear Asa’s narration in the beginning of the movie. In the movie’s trailers it’s always Harrison Ford narrating, so that was a nice surprise! I must say the beginning of the movie was a little too fast-paced to my liking, but I’m happy they didn’t soften up the scene with Ender kicking Stilson. That scene was brutal! Asa surprised me with his intensity too, as he actually turned out quite scary in that scene.
But I would have liked to see a little bit more of Ender’s relationship with his siblings Valentine and Peter. Especially the parts from the book with Peter tormenting Ender, was too short in the movie and didn’t leave a big enough impact I think. But then I know from the book, how Peter’s actions traumatized Ender, but I don’t think other viewers would catch it as well.
However as soon they went to the Battle School, everything pretty much went in a good direction. I think they were pretty true to the book, and for example picked just the right battle room scenes from the book, to show the development of Ender’s abilities, properly. The scene with Ender unexpectedly joining the battle, even though his army leader forbid it, was so cool!
Asa looked so bad-ass, souring through the battle room nailing the opponents of the other team like a pro, in a surprise attack. Also the formation battle scene was so well done! Felt almost the same excitement in that scene, as when I read it in the book. And we saw Bean being flung through the room in a rope too! Just a great scene. But I also liked how they did the scenes with Ender and Petra. For example the scene were they practiced some martial arts together. I don’t remember that being in the book, but I like how they added that to give the movie some more warmth.
Additionally, I was really impressed by Moises Arias playing Bonzo. Even though he was really small of height, he still managed to produce a menacing, frightening aura, as well as some intense looks that could kill! (haha) The famous bathroom scene for example, Arias really gave me the chills. Fortunately they didn’t go overboard with that scene, but still kept it effective.
The mind game scenes, were to some extent well done too. The animation was good and was quite like I had imagined it to be. Especially the animation of Valentine was impressive! Also the music in the scene Ender followed his sister into the ruins, was pretty strange and spooky. I liked that! But I just wish the mind game scenes could have been longer though. They didn’t really dig into the deeper meanings of the game and the resulting nightmares it gave Ender about his relationship with Valentine and Peter. But there probably wasn’t time for that, I know… But I really liked that part of the book.
Also the scene where Ender quits Battle School, goes back to Earth and finally sees Valentine again, just didn’t feel as powerful as the book. The lack of scenes in the beginning of the movie, showing his strong relationship with his sister, made the reunion seem a bit tame. I also think they didn’t emphasise Ender’s extreme transformation in that scene enough either. In the book Valentine barely recognizes her own brother, and he even scares her a bit. That was non-existing in movie, so I hope the DVD release will have some “extended scenes” to make up for that! (In my dreams, I know).
I liked the following scenes with Ender going to Command School though. I remember I had a hard time imagining how the school must look like in the book, with few details to describe it apart from it seeming “alien” to Ender. Anyway, they did a really good job with the details in that place, making it seem really cold and strange to the audience. I also found the simulation tests really impressive. It felt like watching the ultimate video game of the future (haha). So cool, but I think they could have emphasized the extreme training a little bit more, as that was very intense in the original book. But the ending scene totally made up for that, if you ask me.
What an ending! Was very satisfied with the scene with Ender discovering the truth of the final test and the following intense showdown with Colonel Graff. Asa really impressed me once again with his acting abilities in that scene! The rest of the movie, with Ender realizing the connection between him and the formics and his new mission to save their existence, was nicely done, but of course dragged the ending out a bit. However, the scene had to be there, so I’m glad they kept it anyway. The movie had a very open ending, and with Ender’s Game being a series, they could easily continue the story. I’m just worried the movie didn’t do well enough on the box office, but I guess time will tell right? It would be great, but I won’t set my hopes too high. I actually even think I’m satisfied enough with just this movie having been made. I think they did a good job overall with adapting Ender’s Game to the screen. Even with a few short-comings, I think this movie lived up to my expectations. I would even say I already want to watch it again, to get more details from it, as there were a lot! And to watch Asa’s brilliant acting once more, of course.
About the acting overall, I think most actors did a good job. If they didn’t leave too much of an impression, I think it was really due to their lack of scenes. For example with Valentine and Peter, they cut their scenes very short and even removed the separate storyline they had in the book. But that was sort of understandable though, as it wouldn’t fit well with the pace of the movie. However, it’s a shame, as they had a great influence on Ender as a person for the overall storyline. About Harrison Ford, I think he was quite convincing as Colonel Graff and worked as an important backbone to the other young actors. Hailee Steinfeld was good as Petra too, bringing some girl power to the movie. Aramis Knight was so cute as Bean! But unfortunately didn’t get much scenes, like Valentine and Peter. I don’t think they illustrated his cleverness enough, as it actually almost matches Ender’s brains in the book. But I guess there wasn’t enough time for that (again).
But of course the person carrying the whole movie was Asa Butterfield. I think he was cast perfectly for the role of Ender. He has a very innocent look to him, with his clear blue eyes, which made him believable as the young child he was supposed to portray. However he was also able to convey the emotions and psychological pressure of an adult as well. Asa is really a talented actor. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!