Friday, February 28, 2014

Ender's Game, the movie: quick review

I realize that I'm a bit behind the curve on this one, but it took me until last night to get around to watching Ender's Game, the movie.

I generally spend a lot more time reading than watching movies, as most of you will know. I basically watched Ender's Game for two reasons: First of all, I wanted to defy the bigots who staged the Ender's Game boycott. Secondly, I recently finished reading the Orson Scott Card novel of the same name--and I wanted to see how badly the movie would butcher the book.

As the last sentence of the preceding paragraph suggests, I didn't expect much. I've seen too many novels mangled by Hollywood over the years--like Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.

In this case, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did the film preserve the plot and spirit of the novel, the movie also made some worthwhile improvements.

Let's start with the age of the main characters. In the novel, the youngsters trained for combat against the alien "buggers" are prepubescent children. In the movie, they are teenagers, high school aged, more or less.

This seemed to me a logical change and one that Card should have made in the novel. The interactions among the preteen characters in Ender's Game strain the reader's credulity. Young kids simply don't talk like that. 

Secondly, a bit of the dialogue in Ender's Game comes across as a bit hackneyed and dated. This is cleaned up in the screenplay. 

Finally (and this is a minor point), I prefer the name "Formics" to "buggers". (Card introduced the former name later in the Ender series.) The name "bugger" strikes me as a bit too cliched, and redolent of science fiction B-films of the 1950s.

So Ender's Game, in summary, is a winner. You'll enjoy the movie, and you'll irk the fascist boycotters while you're at it.