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Two More Hours

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Nov 02 2013 · 485 views

Essays, Not Rants! 085: Two More Hours
The book Ender's Game is near to my heart. I listed it as my favorite book on my college apps years ago (in lieu of The Lord of the Rings — too cliché). I've read it at three different stages of my life: in high school, in the army (during basic training and later as a corporal), and for class during my freshman year of university. What I'm saying is I love the book. Not just because it's about kid-soldiers saving the world, but because it explores questions of warfare, empathy, and trauma.
See, Ender's Game is a two-headed beast. You have the story of Ender, the child chosen to save the world. The novel follows him from earth through his trials at Battle School and on to Command School. We see him grow and excel in this environment, triumphing despite the odds being stacked catastrophically against him.
Alongside that it’s a story about a boy forced to deal with isolation and detachment; Ender never has the luxury of friends. Ender’s Game is also about a boy being molded into the weapon at the cost of his psyche and the effect it has on him and those around him. As the novel comes to a close it becomes a story about PTSD and atonement.
So it was with cautious hope that I saw the film of the book Thursday night. It wasn't bad; it touched on the themes and hit on many of the book's highlights. But it was too short. It’s really hard to condense all of that into a single movie. Which brings me to the greats flaw of the film of Ender’s Game: It needed two movies.
The movie desperately needed more time, another beat in Battle School, another beat in Command School, and another at the end. Ender’s Game is on of the few books that really needed two movies to tell its story.
That’s the main criticism I can levy against the film. The cast was exceptional, Harrison Ford as Graff in particular. Some of the script was a little wonky, but never enough to drag down the rest. The visuals were beautiful (though I would have done something different camera-wise in the Battle Room). The movie was great, just too short.
Which just might make it that much more painful. It’s easy to hate a movie that’s just plain shoddy (See: The Last Airbender) or fails to capture the spirit of the book (See: BBC’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe). Then it’s easy; the movie felt nothing like the book, missed the point, and sucked. In those cases you laugh off the movie figuring, hey, they tried, whatever.
Ender’s Game came so close as a movie. It had all the pieces it needed for a great adaption. Everything was freaking there, the movie had it all. And it was great, for that. But it needed the chance to breathe. It needed the time to get into Ender’s isolation, to explore Dragon Army, to explore the consequences of his decisions. We needed two movies!
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the movie. I almost cheered when we met Bean and later Petra. Every one of Graff’s scenes was an absolute blast (Ford was able to capture Graff’s severity and warmth like no other). It was great; it just needed more time. What makes it more painful is that if someone ever tries again in the future, the parts will no longer be here. We won’t be able to have Harrison Ford as Graff again nor many of the other people involved.
Ender’s Game is by no means a bad movie, great even; but it came this close to being incredible. Movie’s worth a watch, but definitely read the book.

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Unfortunately, I very very very much disagree with supporting Card in any way shape or form, but can't delve into it due to political reasons. However, I also don't see how they could have done anything NEW with the material, either.

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I felt much the same way about the movie, I think they really hit most of it spot on, but it definitely had trouble with pacing.  I really didn't mind, because I had a foreknowledge of everything that filled the gaps.  For me it was just good to experience scenes from the book visually.  It is unfortunate that they had to skip all of the discoveries and revelations that the protagonists uncover in the book.  Visually, the movie was fantastic, and I loved the scenes of the orbiting space station and of the shuttle launches.  


My one real qualm with the movie is that I feel great moral crisis is presented poorly.  I felt that the film overdid the portrayal of the human race as monstrous by the end of the film.  In the book, it was a reasonable course of action that people took to defeat the perceived foe, and was monstrous only after they gained more knowledge.  In the film just about every person other than Valentine made it their responsibility to beat up Ender, and then beat up the buggers.  Once again this was probably unavoidable with the pacing, but the book definitely did illustrate the theme of people having both flaws and virtues better.


Xaenger, what do you mean when you say that they couldn't do anything new with the material?  Regardless of the fact that you didn't like the book, isn't it good for a book to film adaptation to remain true to the source material or do you think something needed to be changed?  (I assume that statement had nothing to do with the politics but with creative license...  if it was political, then ignore my question)

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