Friday, November 1, 2013

Dear Ender's Game Film Creators (A Review)

Dear Gavin Hood, and all of the cast and crew,

This story is very important to me. After I read "Ender's Game" for the first time, I couldn't let it go. I reread it and reread it, absorbing the story, wishing it was real, wishing I could be a part of it. Living in Battle School, feeling the pressure, feeling the isolation, confronting the moral dilemmas and trying to reconcile this mundane earth with the adventure I found in those pages, over and over again.

I've been excited, and very worried, about this movie since I heard about it, over a year ago. Today is its premiere, and I made sure I went to see it. I went alone, because this story has great emotional hold on me and I didn't want to embarrass anyone I knew. For months I couldn't even discuss the then-upcoming movie because I freaked out too badly. It's a precious thing to me and I've been both eager and quite a wreck anticipating seeing hat you've done with it.

I cried the whole way through. Not because it was terrible- because it made me feel so many things I felt while reading. From Ender's first clever, slightly smug glance while playing the computer game in the beginning to the final moments of the film, I was a total wreck. Because you did so much right.

First of all, your casting. I think it was phenomenal. I want to especially commend you for Bonzo. He was perfect. I believed in him and who he was, I was scared of him for Ender. And needless to say, Bean and Peter and Ender and Valentine and Mazer, the whole jeesh, the whole school, they were wonderful. You did a great job. I wish you might have taken a little more time with the acting- in some moments, dialog felt rushed. Unnatural, sometimes down to the tone of their voices. But overall it was quite good.

Your visuals. I didn't really know what to expect with the battle room or the mind game or the final battles, but it was gorgeous. There were countless moments that moved me to tears simply because of how real it felt. Phenomenal. There were a few strange cinematography choices, particularly in group dialog that felt disjointed, but that was a small part of the whole.

Dear Steve Jablonsky, the music was nearly spot on. You almost overdid Ender's cello theme! And I hoped for a different kind of melody, but I shall have to content myself with what you've created. It was not bad in the slightest. Not in the slightest. I especially loved the mind game music, the distortion, whatever sound effects or noises that were used there.

Gavin Hood, I commend you for the undertaking of translating Orson Scott Card's novel into a script (much less a movie!). I cannot even fathom all of the aspects going into that. Though many have said it felt rushed, and perhaps it may have been, in a way that's how the book feels too. Go, go, go. Never a rest for Ender, or the viewer. If one had to choose between an adaptation that dragged its feet and an adaptation that whisks us along, I'd certainly choose the latter. I'm tempted to complain about how few battle room battles we saw, but I know they were expensive. And you chose the right ones, the most important ones. And the big-ish details that you altered, I understand completely. They had to be more dramatic, different for the screen. But you didn't try to out-do the book. At least, it didn't feel like it. You handled this story extremely well.
I hope to shake your hand personally one day for including so much original dialog. It helped a lot. That is true respect to the source, finding places to use the book's own words instead of replacing them with your own.

What you did, what you have done, is create one of the most successful recent book-to-movie translations I've seen. Because it is an accurate reflection of the story. A fragmented reflection perhaps, but you captured all the parts that mattered. You respected the book, and you also respected what the book makes the reader feel. I cannot speak for anyone going into this film without reading the book, but I know as a faithful lover of the Ender books as a whole, it brought Ender's journey to life. And you did something few adaptations do: things that the book could never convey, you painted with bold colors; you completed the book in a way with stunning images. I commend you. I hope those who see the movie without having read the book are prompted to read it afterwards.

Thank you. Thank you for a glorious journey, for taking a story I've enjoyed in my mind and throwing it onto the vast canvas of the screen. It was stunning.

And now, more than ever, I wish it was real, and that I could be in it. 


Ely said...

this is probably one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen. I loved it so much that I'm going to see it again, only two days after I saw it the first time. SUCH a good movie.

Hannah Joy said...

Gosh, now I want to read and see it.....really bad.

Katrina DeLallo said...

Oh, I'm so glad to see this review! I've been wanting to watch this movie forever. I liked the book so much, and the trailer looked like it had done a really good job capturing Ender's world.

Nita said...

We loved the movie. They did a great job with it and I will see it again.

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