Sunday, November 3, 2013

movie review—Ender's Game

frightening and recommended

It's been a slow several weeks for someone like myself, who enjoys going to see the latest releases in the cinemas. Not that I haven't seen a few, but they haven't been anything special.

One will get a bit of mention here. I went to see “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”, and didn't come away too impressed. Basically, it was an urban fantasy, complete with vamps and werewolves and 'normal' people who were even weirder than any of those. For what it's worth, it's not one I recommend, you won't miss much if you pass on it.

But there are ways in which it relates to “Ender's Game”. Both are about a teen and a small group of roughly similarly aged people that gather around them. Both are based on books. But where CiB mostly fails at being a very scary movie, there are times that “Ender's Game” is truly terrifying.

It's not terrifying in the ways one may think. It's not the Formics, or the videos and pictures of what they had done, but it's Andrew Wiggins, the Ender of the movie, and the ways the people around him act. There are no vampires who look like vamps have looks since the Buffy series, there are no strange magical beings who seem to come out of nowhere, nor are there any goths in strange clothing acting in strange and perverse ways.

Instead, there is the moment when Ender is playing a computer game, and instead of making the choices that he knew would fail, he makes another move that, for all that it is a game, is rather disturbing, and leads to another scene involving the game that may well be even more disturbing. There are the ways in which Ender is manipulated, the ways his interactions are analyzed and evaluated by those in charge. Finally, there is the twist at the end, which if you haven't read the book may well surprise you, and which I'll not spoil here.

One of the big triumphs of the movie is the Battle Room, it is realized superbly. I can well imagine that there is already a video game in the works for it. The acting power for the movie is very good, but while I wasn't familiar with the boy who played Ender, he did do a good and subtle job of showing the various aspects of a complicated character.

For all of the effects and sci-fi elements, this is one of the more thoughtful and thought-provoking movies I've seen in a while. It succeeded at being both enjoyable and bothersome. While one may feel understanding and sympathy for Ender and those around him, there is a sense in which one can be put off by many of them and the things they do, too.

This may not be a kid's movie, but it's one that well worth seeing. I recommend it.

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