Crime Legend

Tom Hardy is the king of films. He easily moves between block buster and independent movies trying new things and taking roles that interest him. He doesn’t play the Hollywood games but still managed to get nominated for an Academy Award. Hardy is more than just a pretty face or some eccentric that other actors shun; he is amazingly talented and incredibly versatile.

Legend is a crime thriller based on the lives of the Kray twins and their organized crime in East London during the 50’s and 60’s.Told in the voice of Frances Shea, who would become Reggie’s wife, the movie chronicles their relationship, the relationship of the two brothers, and the many crimes the twins commit.

He has played comic book characters, battled a dystopian future without much dialogue, and proved that you can enjoy a movie featuring just one man driving a car. Often the movies themselves cannot live up to Hardy’s performance but they are worth viewing to watch this amazing man sharpen his craft. Legend may only skim the surface of the plot, but Hardy dives deep into these characters proving that he is a master of his craft. Both of his twins are very different and you almost wouldn’t believe they were the same person. They had their own voice, their own walk and their own way to reacting to others.

Unfortunately, this is one of the movies doesn’t live up to his performance. Like Child 44 and The Regnant, these films fail in their story telling and Hardy is the best part of the movie (except for The Reverent; the cinematography gives Hardy a run for his money). Legend doesn’t delve deep into the Kray brother. It seems to gloss over their emotions and true motivations. The majority of characters fall flat as they aren’t written with enough depth for the actors to work with these actors include the Doctor himself Chris Eccleston and the up and coming Taron Egerton). The Twin’s story seems to be a truly thought provoking story but the script only skitters across the surface.

If you are renting a Tom Hardy movie this weekend, I encourage you to go The Drop, probably Hardy’s most underrated movie.

Summer Movie Swing Part 2

Independence Day: Resurgence

Available on BluRay and DVD Oct. 18

The movie has garnered a lot of negative attention from critics but it is a pretty good action movie and the ending magnifies the movie in tone and scope

This summer both Hemsworth brother get the spotlight (Chris steals the show while Liam is the new generation of leading men). Liam is the handsome face of the new American generations (with the required darkness of course). He joins a team of returning cast (including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) and newbies (Sela Ward, Jesse T. Usher) that are awesome combination of past and present (but be prepared to say goodbye to some beloved characters)independence-day-resurgence when the next threat hits. Earth has been planning for the aliens return and has used the alien’s technology to benefit the entire planet. As the movie opens they are working one a new weapon while an elite team of pilots are getting ready for just about anything. Their patience is rewarded when the mother ship comes home. But what we haven’t anticipated? Earth wasn’t to the first to be attacked by these monsters.

Many critics have killed Resurgence which surprises me. It’s pure Hollywood Action Movie Recipe and manages to produce a capable action flick. I must agree that it doesn’t live up to the original but it has all the same pieces: great action, characters you like, and a final outlandish attack (there’s even a pretty moving speech). I enjoyed the action and was interested in where the alien’s history will take us.

Resurgence is notable because it is the perfect sequel/reboot. There is the passing of the crown to the younger generation while honoring those that came before. Integrating characters from the first movie and having several of them survive is a key in keeping the franchise consistent but their rolls make it easier for the new characters to become center stage. Viewers get to say goodbye and hello without feeling cheated (unlike other recent reboots).

I was unhappy with the forced franchise set up. As the plot develops there is no doubt that the franchise could continue so it was rather tacky and cliché as the ending is set up for an ensured sequel. I guess, at this point, Hollywood hasn’t had time to learn from Divergent. I’ll see the sequel (if the producers decided this one made enough money), but don’t expect it to be as good as the first or even as good as this one.

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Suicide Squad

Available on BluRay and DVD Dec. 13

Suicide Squad gets a few things right and a few wrong. It’s nowhere near the best comic based movie this year and it is not the worst.

Suicide Squad follows a group of villains who have been put together to fight the new growing supernatural threat in the world. In the wake of Superman the government is scared and somehow letting lunatics out to fight those like him is a great idea. When Enchantress (one of the squad’s own) goes berserk, the team is called out for their trail one. The team proves they can battle the forces of evil while being (mostly) evil themselves.suicidesquad

Suicide Squad is the best when it’s using its sound track to personify the characters and getting viewers into the mood for a good ass kicking. The music gives death to the many one dimensional characters. That’s not to say they are all one demission. Diablo is the most compelling of the stories and we do get flashbacks into what Harley Quinn once was and a small look into what actually motivates her.

The writing of the characters isn’t the only problem; casting cripples character like Deadshot and Flag. No matter what Will Smith thinks, this was an ensemble movie and his desire to push his leading man status down our throats harms the movie. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag is the poor man’s Tom Hardy, literally. After Hardy left the project (I knew there would be problems with this movie when he walked out), the production set out to find someone who could be Hardy and since that’s impossible, ___ is slammed between a rock and a hard place. Outside of the Human Flame, the best characters are regulated to a just a few lines; Boomerang and Croc get to make a few wisecracks and stand around taking up space instead of being integrated into a cohesive team. I would have rather have seen more of them and less of characters like the Joker.

Ah, Jared Leto, the most controversial of all of this. He was a horrible Joker playing him as a strung out meth head who paraded around as a mob boss. It was painful to watch and you just waited for his over-the-top scenes to be over. Everyone involved wanted Joker to be different and he is, in fact, very different but no one bothered to ask if it was any good.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining romp that needs a lot of fine tuning before its next foray.

 

Ghostbusters

Now available on BluRay and DVD

Ghostbuster also reboots an old story. The Ghostbusters crew dedicated the movie to original writer and star Harold Ramiz but the movie doesn’t live up to the Ramis’ reputation.

A team of estranged researcher reunite when a local historic location has shown evidence of haunting. While the team easily sees through the gimmicks, they suddenly find themselves face to face with real ghosts. The two must expand their team (including their research assistant, an outspoken subway work, and a model of receptionist) to get to the bottom of the disturbance. And they quickly find that it’s not isolated. New York City has a ghost problem!

The movie had some great parts but the biggest issue is that it isn’t Ghostbusters. The tone is not the ghostbusters2016image004same, the movie is super CGed and the only real connection is some icon images and gear. The movie would have been better standing on its own as a Ghostbusters inspired movie; the four ladies get together to bring back the old idea and gear and set up their own movie with tone and vision. The overly CGed world of this Ghostbuster isn’t scary at all and is just another C level reboot.

But there are some fabulous parts to the movie and those are the two characters that get the most laugh. Leslie Jones starts out as stereotypical hysterical black women but quickly she starts saying and doing what we as normal people think. The prime example is the “room of nightmares”; she refuses to go in a room of mannequins because she knows how it will end. But the move is propelled by Chris Hemsworth who gives his best performance ever as the dumb secretary that throws gender roles on its head. He is hilarious but turns on the gravitas in a heartbeat (it also helps he was allowed to use his own accent).

I’m not a Trump supporter (screw you Apatow), but I still believe the quality wasn’t very good. Hollywood stuck with a gimmick but lacked substance. Women are funny, especially when you let them be.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Available on BluRay and DVD Nov. 29

It is interesting that Hollywood is finally getting behind female centric comedies when other countries have been doing it for years. It’s hard to look at BBC comedy without noting the plethora of female comedians. AbFab’s returns continue to prove that women are funny and can pull the big screen attendants.

Edina Monsoon is desperate not it sink into oblivion and continues to struggle with her PR firm. She is always on the edge of the next big get or the next big trend but never fully lands. Eddie has finally lands something and it’s not good. When it is revealed Kate Moss is looking for a new PR director, Eddie accidently kills Moss in her scramble to get the position. Eddie and Patsy must escape before she can be crucified for the fashion world’s biggest death ever. But Eddie and Patsy don’t know how to do low key and their situation continues to sink and sink and get funnier and funnier.

English movies based on TV show like to recycle old materials from their shows (see Are You Being Served and Bean for examples) but AbFab is more subtle about how it does this. Instead of pulling whole gags from the series, running gags appear at every corner. Mother is still being verbally trashed; her nurse still thinks Eddie’s fat and Eddie has finally added a second verse to her “walking down the road” song! This is wonderful treats for long time fans without trying their patience. And as always, the movie is star studded with a variety of cameos from Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie to the “really hot right absolutely-fabulous-the-movieartnow” Rebel Wilson. And, of course, there’s Lulu!

The movie largely secedes because Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley become Eddie and Patsy and they give it their all. They don’t inject anything PC into this character taking women’s issues as basis and then exaggerates them to the point of being funny. A movie about woman insecure about her weight is usually a Lifetime movie with a sad sound track. Instead Saunders takes Edina and makes her larger than life, and it is at that point we can connect to Eddie; while some of us may have done dumb stuff, none of us are as dumb as Eddie.

Many of today’s comedians such as Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham need to take note. It’s ok to be honest, foul mouthed and talk about our vagina without sinking to likes of their male counter parts. (I mean, I don’t want another Sausage Party from men let alone something like that from women. Ick. That genre of comedy should just die out.) Saunders and Lumley do it right, they do it real, and they do it with a lot more class.

 

Home Entertainment Blitz

Kingsmen

Kingsmen: The Secret Service is hands down one of the best movies of the year. Colin Firth leads a top notch cast in this humorous look at the spy world directed by Matthew Vaugh (X-Men: First

KSS_JB_D11_01354 - (From left) Harry (Colin Firth), Eggsy (Taron Egerton), Merlin (Mark Strong), Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and Percival (Alastair Macintosh) display varying reactions to an extraordinary event at the Kingsmen training facility.

Class).

Harry sees the potential in Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, an inner city kids whose mom is stuck in the mob life. When Eggy calls in a favor from the Kingsmen, Harry takes Eggsy under his wing and trains him for a spot in the elite service. Eggsy learns fighting skills, espionage techniques, and most importantly, how to be a true gentleman. All of Eggsy’s new acquired skills are put to the test when an eccentric millionaire tries to take over the world.

Kingsman combines humor and action, making it more than just a spy spoof. With subtle mocking of society and our depended on technology, Kingsmen looks at the ways of older generations and blends them with aspects of these latest generation to create a human ideal. Though I make it sound like it, the movie isn’t preachy; its tongue in cheek and full of laughter. Witty and smart, here more than just slap stick and potty humor (yes, there is some of that). At the end of the film, you are pleased to have passed the time with these characters and anxious to watch it again.

 

 

Maggie

08-maggie.w750.h560.2xThis zombie drama starring, Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is truly as good as all the hype. Focusing on family and the psychological aspects of the change, Maggie is a suspenseful thriller instead of a gory horror movie.

On a farm in the Midwest, Wade (Schwarzenegger) must deal the fact that his run -way daughter has been bitten by a zombie. Medical science has been studying the phenomenon and has no answers, just quarantine. Maggie, the titular daughter, must deal with a slow transition into a monster. With a father who loves her and a step-mother who is afraid of her, she must deal with more than just family life; she must deal with becoming undead.

Maggie is a realistic look at the zombie apocalypse. No major event happens. No half decaying bodies are running around. Instead, it focuses on how a family deals with disease and the inevitable death of a cherished member. It is a metaphor of an aging world cloaked in zombie trappings. Scaring you more by your mind than by your eyes, Maggie is the most subtle of zombie films. My friend was freaked out by the movie because of how real it was; she said several times “They are showing it as if it can actually happen.”  That scares me more than other zombie movie I’ve ever seen.

 

Child 44

The movie focuses less a murder mystery that it does on the state of life in the Soviet Union doting that the 1950’s.  Don’t expect a taunt crime thriller; instead, be prepared for lingering despair,

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hope in humanity, and malleable relationships.

Leo becomes a hero in the Russian secret police.  Promoted quickly, he rubs elbows with the higher ups. But when a longtime friend comes to him about the possible murder of his child, he becomes a liability to his superiors. When his wife is set up as a traitor, Leo is demoted but doesn’t give up on finding out who perpetrated the heinous crime.

Child 44 is slow. Little attention is paid to the mur-I mean accidents that happen to these children. Instead we see Leo’s life unfurl,  beginning with his heroism followed by his  inevitable down fall  and setting forth on his noble quest. If you were unaware of how dark Russia was during this time, then you will be surprised about how bad it was for anyone under the regime. Hardy gives an excellent performance (as always) easily portraying the irony that his character suffers from- his ladder to the top is also his downfall. Charge with emotional and driven by character development, Child 44 is not a who-done-it, but a picture of a world that was real not that long ago.

 

Dark Places

Based on the hands down best book by Gillian Flynn, Dark Places follows real human beings and the dark places inside them.

Dark-Places-Movie-2015-starring-Charlize-Theron-and-Nicholas-HoultLibby survived the massacre of her family when she was young. The only family member besides her to make it out alive is her brother who has been convicted of killing her mother and sisters. Libby hasn’t adapted well to post-tragedy life and has coast on a trust fund provided by a public with big hearts. But the donations start drying up and her book isn’t making any money, so she desperately accepts the offer to speak at a local “Murder Club.” The group meets to discuss murder cases, solve the unsolved and fact checking the solved ones. When they suggest her brother Ben is innocent, she can’t emotionally handle it but the promise of money to research what really happened is too good to pass up. Switching between the present and that her family was murdered, Libby and the audience find out what really happened that night.

The movie is better than Gone Girl because the script and story are stronger. Instead of straight up psychos (this does not disclose any psychos in this move), the story centers on real people and the murid of ways our psyche deals with the hurts in our lives. From lies to love to betrayal to sacrifice, the movie runs the gambit of human emotions and what we each see as the injuries in our lives. Backed by powerful performances by Charlize  Theron, Christina Hendricks, and Drea de Matteo, Dark Places is an excellent film.

Revenge of the Sequel

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

I was excited when I found out that Hammer Films was making a sequel to the Woman in Black. The first movie was charged with energy and scares, and Daniel Radcliffe gave an amazing performance. When I found out the same production team was behind the sequel, I had high expectations. But I shouldn’t have.

woman_in_black_angel_of_death_01The plot takes place during World War 2 when school children have been evacuated to Eel Marsh House to get out of the fighting zones. A young teacher named Eve tries to help the children adapt especially one young man who seems to be haunted by his past. Add a love interest for Eve, and the story starts to go off the rails.

The movie was not at all scary. The best moment was just a repeat of the rocking chair sequence from the first movie. The movie lapses into cheap thrills that every other B horror movie falls back on. Be prepared for creepy hands and eyes that stare at you through holes, but do be worried about being afraid.

The convoluted plot adds nothing to the Woman in Black’s mythos except that if you can’t see her, she can’t hurt you (so I was right as a child?). The plot does not expand on anything related to her or the house’s former owners. Viewers learn things that were in the first film and nothing more. While this makes the sequel self-contained, it’s not really interesting enough to be its own story. This sequel falls flat and the only horror is the price you paid to rent it.

 

Taken 3

Taken 3 follows suit of another popular trilogy (though one funnier and less bloody). The Liam Neeson action franchise ends like the raucous Hangover trilogy. The third movie is so different than its predecessor that truly truly makes the film less like it doesn’t fit into the franchise and therefore is a bad movie.

But Taken 3, like Hangover 3, isn’t a bad movie in its own right. The movie is standard Neeson fare and he continues to kick ass. (Yes, there is a section where he performs the Grandpa Run, but he’s still a bad ass.) But the plot stays state side and becomes a domestic affair. No one is taken, instead his ex-wife is killed and he has been framed. He use his unique set of skills to escape from the police as well as chase down the culprit.

The first Taken was about brutal violence while the second one speaks of mercy. The third is about just enough. Kill downloadthose who need to be killed and only hurt those as much as needed. This installment and its predecessor have been criticized for lack of insane violence paraded in the first film but honestly the violence mimics the journey of this man.

Gone are the sprawling landscapes of faraway places and this also adds to the different tone of the film. I claim that it is not bad, just different. The movie is about home and what is truly in Bryan’s heart. I can understand how these changes negatively affect those looking for over the top violence or exotic destinations. Personally, I am just glad it’s a break from bad spy movies like 3 Days to Kill and Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit.

Pick Up The Drop

Dennis Lehane is a master story teller and his genius as an author has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Classics such as Mystic River and Shutter Island have been adapted to the big screen by prominent directors. Lehane has lent his talents to the small screen as well as working on The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. Now, on Blu-ray and DVD, one of his short stories comes to.

The Drop is based on the short story “Animal Rescue” which Lehane expanded it into a novel and adapted it as a feature film. Bob (Tom Hardy) is a quiet bartender whose bar has been taken over by organized crime. The bar is used as a “drop” point, a place where dirty money is held until it can be picked up. When the bar is robbed, Bob and his boss have to deal with the repercussions and angry mobsters. Meanwhile, Bob finds a beaten pit bull in a trash can and decides to adopt it. But trouble ensues after the dog’s original owner comes back wanting the dog. Bob must deal with the pressure on both his personal and professional life.THE-DROP-TOM-HARDY_0

The tale is classic Lehane. Viewers become entangled with characters and react emotionally to them. Viewers feel sympathy for Hardy as Bob and his life begins to unravel. Then, suddenly, the whole tale is flipped on its side and viewers see a new side of the characters, giving them more depth and realism. This keeps the plot from being just another mob movie.

Lehane has been lucky with the casting and directing of his adaptations. When in the skilled hands of Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese, these tales come to life in vivid detail. The Drop features unknown Michaël R. Roskam, a more subtle director, who pairs well with the simple Bob. But, what truly makes the film stand out is the cast.

Lehane’s characters are heart breaking, real, and moving when handled by great actors. Shutter Island would have been a wreck if Leonardo DiCaprio had not handled the intricacies of the main character with ease, and the same can be said here. At first, it seems like James Gandolfini gives the strongest performance. He is great as the cranky Marv who wishes his life has been different. Hardy’s understated performance seems very low key for him but once Lehane twists the plot viewers truly see the work Hardy has done with the character. The intensity is balanced with an everyman vibe and Hardy shines. A lesser actor could not have pulled off the performance.

The Drop is a carefully woven tale that proves why Dennis Lehane is a master at his craft. The film is also a wonderful testament to the late James Gandolfini. Pick up this twist on Mobster movies today.

Locke In

Tom Hardy has received massive critical acclaim in his newest movie Locke. An indie British flick, Hardy is the only man you see on screen. The movie is thought provoking but lacks the bite it needs.

Locke follows Ivan Locke on his hour and a half drive to London.  On that drive Locke decides that he must do the right thing so someone’s life does not end up like his. But as he drives he must deal with the fallout in his life and has to realize how many other lives are on the line. Locke finds that not only his home life but his work life is on the line as well.

It’s clear to see why the critics love Locke. Hardy is a magnificent actors and this real time excursion allows him to showcase his full acting tool box. He easily and believably runs the gamut of emotions and makes viewers feel each one. Because of this the movie leaves you with a visceral feeling as your drive away from the theater (or from your home as the case may be). Viewers truly see how easy it is too lose everything you know; how one mistake can cause you to loose your job, your family. Locke excels at making you think and feel.

What Locke does not do is giving viewers a satisfying ending for a man and his transgressions. Ivan Locke is unlikeable. It’s hard to imagine that he was ever more than he portrays himself in the movie though it is fun to see him move towards a nervous breakdown. But there is no payout.  His punishment is too pedestrian to be art and that is what viewers expect from this film.

Hardy walks the fine line of commercial and critical success even though he is not yet a household name. He chooses roles that allow him to fully become the character, but sometimes that isn’t enough Sometimes viewers just need to feel good about a movie.

Foundation of a Legend

Legends touts Sean Bean’s return to television and uses his notorious habit of dying in his various projects as hype for the show. The hash tags for the show? #dontkillseanbean

This is a stroke of genius and allows TNT to cash of Game of Thrones by directly referencing to being beheading in their promotional material. It engages fans and makes them invested in the show’s main character. Don’t kill Sean Bean!

zap-legends-season-1-premiere-pilot-photos-201-006How does the pilot live up to the wonderful hype and social media engagement? It’s a little under whelming. Pilots often are because they have to set up for multiple arcs and give you back ground. Legends sets the basic foundation without too much information. We learn Martin is an undercover FBI agent and he has an ex-wife and child. His world is then rocked when someone tells him that he is not who he thinks he is; that his undercover life has completely taken over his real life.

This is where the meat of the story gets interesting though the idea isn’t delved into too deeply. Legends (or their undercover egos) aren’t really explained. I feel like it’s much more than just an uncover identity and see some very Dollhouse-like aspects popping up in the FBI’s program. But the show is vague (I am hoping intentionally vague).

The pilot does help you connect to the character past the original Sean Bean base. Martin wears every man “Lincoln Dittman” who joins a terrorist militia because everything in his life has gone to crap. Martin is easily able to spin his story on the fly and adapt to surrounding making him a kind of super spy even though many of his coworkers don’t like him. This includes the female lead.

Alli Larter plays Crystal an exlover, current coworker who has trouble working with Martin. He goes off script often and will disappear from contact when he goes deep undercover. She is also concerned because he failed all but one psychological exam to be fit for duty. That one he passed? It claimed he was the best candidate for this kind of job.

The writers have no problem finding a way to sexy up Larter. Though she is a gorgeous woman and I am sure the male fans were excited, I felt like it demeaned her role as operative and as a professional woman. Hopefully, the show can create in her character a beautiful, forceful woman without too much gratuitous T&A.

Legends has lots of potential especially as the show expands into Martin’s various personalities and how they bleed into each other and his “real” life.  I look forward to seeing how the next few episodes unfold.

How Season 4 of Game of Thrones Season 4 is Angering Book Fans

Game of Thrones brought TV viewers into a rich world book lover had known for ages. As most adaptations, the show changes things to entertain book and TV audiences.  In the case of GoT, the changes have been minimal. But the creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have consulted with author George R.R. Martin (the show will end way before the books ever will) and know what Martin plans to happen.  Evidence of that is popping up in Season 4 as the TV show is starting to give spoilers to book readers.

Taking some liberties with the material is good for the show and to keep book readers on the toes. This is valuable to a point. A Song of Ice and Fire is MASSIVE. There is so much going on those things often have to be cut out or condensed to tell and meaningful story. But it becomes a problem when you add material that did not happen in the books. For example, the story with the return to Craster’s keep. These events did not happen inGoT-S4E4 the books and the writers created a new villain as if there were not a plethora of villains in the text. While giving time to the wildlings as they terrorizes Mole Town can really give a more rounded look for these characters, it doesn’t help to draw out certain stories of over characters (here’s looking at you Bran).

The TV show is pooling things for book readers and this s angering fans of the books. It is known that the creators know where the general story is going and to hint at it, but to outright say “so and so killed Jon Aryan” is news to the reader, a reader who has read through thousands and thousands of pages and, in two seconds, the mystery is solved.  The television viewers are lucky; all is resolves for them and the book fans have become annoyed when their loyalty is not rewarded. Yes, the book and TV readers are somewhat of even footing when it comes to The Others, but should they be?

It also seems that the writers are inherently changing our characters. Jamie’s rape scene never happens. In fact, book readers are so angry at Cerci’s treatment of Jaime, that when he finally (spoiler) breaks away from her, fans cheered. I wish I knew the logic behind this change and why they decided that Jaime is suddenly a rapist (this up there with the logic behind everyone’s love of Stannis). There is a flip side to this. TV’s Margeary is much more innocent and isn’t conniving until her grandmother gets ahold her. In fact, in the show, she is completely innocent in Joffery’s murder helping some fans to appreciate her better.

Season 4 has deviated from the books the most. Previous ones just moved the plot along quicker or consolidated some characters for cast budgeting. But as they reach their end came, they veer further away from the story fans know and love. Will this pay off? The book fans may say no but the TV fans are saying yes.

By The Book: Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game has been surrounded by controversy. The book was rallied against for its support of violence and the movie was boycotted because Orson Scott Card is anti-homosexual. These controversies take away from a deep and provocative story that looks at politics, the military, and our future.Ender's_game_cover_ISBN_0312932081

The book is an in-depth look at the future after an alien war with the Buggers. Earth came together to create an army that will fight the future of the alien threat: training young children who use their intuition and lack of biases to fight these life forms. The book details Ender’s rise to military fame and his emotional breakdown from the stresses place on him. The book became keystone reading for several military groups, and the Ender franchise took off. The movie follows the same plot changing minor points.

Even though director/writer Gavin Hood only makes minimal changes, he manages to alter the tone and change the purpose behind certain plot points. Part of this comes from the fact that the movie isn’t able to get into Ender’s head like it did in the books and Hood often fails in portraying it in the storyline.  For example, Ender’s inner struggle with being a leader and the advanced pace of his training is downplayed and his explosion at the end of the movie seems out of place. In fact, the movie makes it seem like Bonzo’s death is the only reason he quit before he enters Command School.

To centralize the story, characters are given more screen time. Petra’s role in Ender’s life is increased and given more importance than in the book. And while it incorporated more of Bean, it change the characters time line as well as down played how smart, arrogant the character actually is. The movie demonizes the bad guys while making the good guys perfect saints. And none of the children are young enough. While this might be practical for filming, it really takes the enormity of the original story away.

tumblr_mk8d1vkdYW1rri3f0o1_1280This leads to the biggest issue with the movie. No one should have worked about anti-homosexual themes or any other political commentary. The movie is actually overly PC. Characters have changed to reflecting minority and women’s roles which in interesting because the books actually have more variety of ethnicities and gender than the movie did. There is no reference to the Bugger War; everyone just calls them Formics. This small change loses a lot of what Card was saying about humans and outsiders. Using slang for enemies is typical and part of the criticism included in the original novel. Though we see it start to change in Ender’s Shadow (chronologically parallel but written some time after the original), this is a reflection of how PC was adapting into the world and it has now completely enticed the movie.

The biggest change was the removal of politics from the film. Oh, you say, but there was so much politics with Graff and the military! That is nothing compared to the Ender Saga of books. Enders siblings are very important player in the world. Their actions and political dialogues change how regular people see the world and it sons reaches to the government. Their actions actually decide Ender’s fate. But you won’t see much of Peter or Valentine as Hood morphs the ending to come to a staggering halt instead of following into another tale.

Ender’s Game is a great science fiction movie.  The special effects are beautiful and the Battle Room lives up to expectations. Asa Buttersfield does well as the boy genius Ender, and Harrison Ford is great as Graff. But like most adaptations it can’t hit the depth and thought provocation of the novel.