Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ender's Game

I went and saw Ender's Game tonight. The verdict: it was okay as a synopsis.

I'm a math/science geek who's into changing coordinate systems to suit different problems and things like that. I first read Ender's Game when I was an undergraduate (in a single night, no less; and actually, I haven't read it since), and what really impressed me were the three-dimensional battle tactics.

Well, they just about cut all that out of the movie! There aren't even any real battle-room games. How can you make a movie of Ender's Game without some detailed games? They kind of mention the psychology of choosing your own coordinates once or twice, but the battles are all horizontal. I guess the production team just didn't get it, or assumed we wouldn't get it.

Also, as I rather suspected, Hollywood's lust for special effects gave the plot twist away. Or at least I suppose it did. Hard to say, since I knew it was coming. The movie completely ignores relativity and its effects on the storyline in the interests of getting Ender somewhere CGI-worthy. I did hear an ansible mentioned in there somewhere. Maybe they don't realize what an ansible is supposed to be a fig leaf for.

Anyway, it strikes me that, on the whole, Ender's Game would have come out better as a movie, though with worse special effects, in the eighties. In many ways the plot kind of goes more with War Games and Real Genius (yes, I loved that movie) and things of that sort than with Star Wars.

Since I just reviewed Soylent Green, I suppose I should mention that a character referred to the bugs' population growth as "unsustainable, just like ours." Still, twenty-whateverth Planet Earth looks pretty neat and green to me.

The surprising and deeply empathetic postlude was what really stayed with me after I read the book, and I was glad to see that the movie retained this. I wasn't emotionally invested enough at that point to really care much, however. Overall, the movie was as faithful to the book as it could have been, with the exception that Ender's sister should have accompanied him at the end. It just had a rushed, cursory feel.

So, it was okay. It had its moments. But could have been better. On the other hand, the town theater only charges $6.00 a ticket, and that on a Saturday night, so I can't really complain. Room was almost empty. The midnight showing of Bad Grandpa seemed to be pretty popular, though.


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