Monday, February 10, 2014

[Movie] Ender's Game

Ender's Game is a 2014 science fiction movie based on the same novel. The movie is directed by Gavin Hood, and the thing is, this movie is also produced by Orson Scott Card, no other than the novel's writer himself. Wow, that would make it interesting, yes? Its actually kind of rare for the original novel writer to influence the making of the movie. Usually the story plot would just be told to a bunch of script writers and they would urmm 'adjust' the story to meet the audiences expectation.

So that is why the day when the movie trailer came out, I was excited. I am a fan of sci-fi novels, and Ender's Game series is one of them. Not to mention this movie is also starred by my favorite actors, Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, along with the rising star of Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, and Hailee Steinfeld.

You would probably be wondering whether this movie is aligned with the novel's plot. In my opinion, in a way, yes. By now we all must understand that some adjustment is required in the movie because, you know, some stuff that is written in the book is not something that easily replicate in real life even if today technology allow CGI and all of that fancy stuff. In this case, Ender's Game is more about of the characters development,  that I'm sure it is actually pretty hard to achieve in a movie, due to the time restraint.

But is the movie good. Does it live up to every Enders fan's expectation out there? What about the spaceship battle and all of those explosions?

For humanity!!
Let us first begin with the movie plot. Just like in the novel, its started with the coming of an invading terrestrial that attacked Earth without warning. Million of people died in the first wave and no communication nor diplomatic exchange of any kind could be establish with the alien known as, the Formic. Humanity responded by throwing everything they got to preserve their civilization. If your read the novel, you'll know that the Formic was actually wasn't aware that humanity is a sentient species due to the differences in communication medium (they communicate telepathically) which they tried to contact humanity, and humanity failed to respond.

Turns out the Formic thought that humanity is to be nothing more than a bunch of loud monkeys, and proceeded to terraform (forest cleaning, sounds familiar?) the Earth, which involves of killing these pesky primates. If was after when humanity managed to beat up and drive away the Formic's terraforming team (their battle-fleet) that the Formic started to realize that these primates is indeed primates, but not primitive and bestial. Well, that was in book. It wasn't explained it movie though.
I'm a third, not a TURD!
The movie concentrate and revolves around the main character, Andrew 'Ender' Wiggins (Asa Butterfield). Well obviously, what do you think it was about? The movie is named after him. But just in case you didn't know where he got the 'Ender' name, its the new world after the Formic Wars and everyone need to comply with the new population control policy where 1 family is only allowed to have 2 children. And Ender, is the third and last child of Wiggins. Hence his middle name, Ender. This was not shown in the movie, in fact the whole setting was not properly explained to the audience. It seems the producers assume that everyone knows about the novel. In this case, I do.

Ender had a rough time growing up. He got hazed and bullied just like any other nerdy guy in the schools. Especially in a military school that was fashioned to prepare humanity for another Formic invasion. He is too smart for everyone other than his parent to tolerate. He also have a really, really weird and creepy growing up experience with his older sibling, namely Peter Wiggins (Jimmy Pinchak), his big brother. If you read the novels, you'll know. His brother is a sick psychopath.

The game is simple, lay down and get choked!
They have this childhood game called, the Formics and the Astronauts. Where his brother becomes the Astronauts, and Ender as the Formics. The rule of the game? The Astronauts gets to choke the Formics half-dead. See, told ya this guy is nuts. But Ender have a very close relationship with his older sister, Valentine Wiggins (Abigail Breslin). Ender loves to urrm... confess to his older sister. He always told her everything. So much that Valentine is practically a place for Ender to seek absolution and tranquilty, of some sort. He could get really agitated if he couldn't confess. Oh did I mentioned that the Wiggins family is actually special? There are back story about their family in the novel.

My name is Ender, shake my hand or I'll end you.
Out of three of the Wiggins, only one is selected, Ender, to get to the Battle School of the International Fleet (a new organization, pretty much like the UN but this time they hold the Earth's space military power and responsible for humanity's survival). The International Fleet (IF) is a militaristic organization, training the children and young adults from all across the globe for the battle to come. Thanks to the Formic invasions, humanity took a technological leap toward space (though in the novel humanity already mastered interplanetery spaceflight). They now can build starships, and starts bringing the fight back to the Formic. They have the material, the technology, the manpower, all they need is a superb commander. Just like in the earlier Formic War where Colonel Mazer Rackham (in the novel he is a commander who is assigned to a reserve patrol force, part of the Earth main defensive fleet) single-handedly defeated the Formic invasion fleet. But yeah, in the movie he is a jet fighter pilot. A commander of urm.. jet fighter squadron?

Future gaming experience.
You know what, there too much to write. To tell you the truth, this movie actually take the span of the entire novel. So there was much of the space battle other than the last part where Ender got to control a whole Earth battlefleet in a simulation. The simulation is so real, it almost look like a real battle.

I like it how the movie uses the same tech from the movie Minority Report where they control the tech using hand gestures. The ships design, the battle simulation was all incredibly satisfying, they left no expenses to make the whole as futuristic and sleek as possible. But urm... You guys have watched the movie, right? Yes? The truth is, even after all those space battles and explosion, the movie ending is a bit anti-climatic. There are a lot of things left unexplained and those were actually the key point for the plot.

First of all, the International Fleet. It wasn't explained exactly what this organization is. And it was pretty vague about what is happening in the beginning. It was too short. It was never explained exactly what make this war was really important. You see, I've told you that the Formic is coming to Earth to colonize it. But due to 'miscommunication' between the species, the Formic almost wipe out the humanity simply because they thought, human cannot speak. You know, like how insect that cannot speak, so you squash the bug. In other word, while it looks like a forest cleaning to the Formics, it was a genocide to the humanity.  Not to mention, if you compare it to the novel, the time setting actually took place at the second Formic Wars, while Ender is being trained for the third war. So you can see there the urgency to act before the coming of the next wave, for fear that the Formic might develop a new.. urmm human repellant?

And then, not to forget. The ansible. This is the single most important technology attained from the Formic after Mazer Rackham manage to defeat the Formic fleet but still manage to keep their ship intact, allowing the humanity to tap into the technology of instantaneous interstellar communications. Which should explain about the awesome space battle simulations. But it wasn't explained, and the battle look so realistic the audience probably already guessed that Ender is actually fighting the real deal.

Bonzo Madrid, the Salamander Army's commander.
All in all, the movie is good. Story-wise, entertaining. But to those who have read the novel, you might feel that the movie is short a few stuff. Frankly, I don't understand why Orson Scott Card doesn't make it in sequels or parts like Lord of the Rings. It should have started with the father, Paul Walker Wiggins, and ended with Bonzo Madrid in Battle School got iced. That was the part where Ender started to lose interest with Battle School because he doesn't want to lose his humane heart, like his brother, Peter. If you read the novels, there is a lot of story inside the Battle School. The movie could have just concentrate there and started the graduation of Ender and fight the battle simulation on the second sequel.

But it just me, the movie still good anyway, only the plot have changes a little bit. So.. I'm will put it into my sci-fi movie marathon collection.


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