Reel Thoughts: Ender’s Game
I went to see Ender’s Game Halloween Night with That Guy, a couple of friends who had read the book, and a couple of friends who had not read the book. We had to wait until the late late show because a) I had to work until 9, and b) it was Halloween and those of us in neighborhoods with kids had to wait until the trick-or-treaters were done circling the grounds for their candy fix.
Now, all of us that went are total geeks: gamer geeks, computer geeks, sci-fi geeks, so this type of movie should have been perfect for us. Space, aliens, crucial climax at the end that turns everything around- just wonderful (and the book does that, BTW). The movie, not so much. (Note: If you are a real lover of the book, definitely distance yourself from it before seeing the movie.)
The actors: really, the cast couldn’t have been better chosen. Ender (Asa Butterfield) and the young crew whom the whole of Earth are depending on to save them from the horrible “bugs” are entirely into their parts, and you can feel their emotions. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis) are perfect foils for each other, battling diametric viewpoints of how to treat these soldiers. It is so not their fault that the movie fails them.
The visuals: the graphics are really intense, and really bring the scenes to life. When Ender’s Game was originally written in 1985 (short story in 1977) there is no way that they could have envisioned the technology that we have today- yet the book details the gaming scenarios that are brought to life beautifully through CGI technology. The tech is spot on, and that makes a difference when you are a geek- trust me, I live with one.
The cleaning/changes: the movie radically different from the book in many ways, and one good change from that is that it takes out all of the slurs and racial profiling. The cast is diverse (in fact, of the three major adult actors, one is Caucasian, one is half
Gujrati Indian/ half British, and one is black), and none of the controversial language that was in the original or some of the updated copies of the book (about Bonzo, for example) are in the movie.
Would I see it again? No. It did not give me that movie buzz that I get from a good/great movie (see after the spoilers for the bad and the picky parts), and defintely not enough for me to go out and watch it or even buy it for my personal DVD collection. Will I purchase it for my library? Yes, because it’s a popular title, and it fits with what my community will want to watch. Will I show it for a program? No, not unless my teens specifically ask for it- there are better movies to tie into programming.
Rottentomatoes.com has Ender’s Game listed as 52% (rotten) by the Top Critics and 61% (fresh) by all critics.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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