Thoughts on Ender’s Game and Thor: The Dark World

My exciting life continues, meaning I’ve hardly done anything this month.  While there are still a couple of movies currently out that I hope to see (Disney’s Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), I already did manage to see two November movies that were much higher on my list.

Ender’s Game

I came into this movie with a degree of trepidation.  While I absolutely love the book, I am—to put it mildly—less enamoured with its author these days.  (A quick search on “Orson Scott Card” will give you lots of reading on why.)  Ultimately I decided to go see the movie, and I’m glad I did—it is good.

A part of what made it good was the excellent cast.  They aged the characters a bit, compared to the books, I think, but as a result they were able to get a number of strong young actors in key roles—Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld in particular.  Balancing them out was a trifecta of excellent established actors: Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis.

But what made the movie just good, and not great, was that we hardly got to know any of these great actors.  The book is told deeply from Ender’s perspective, but a movie adaptation by its very nature has to focus more on the external action.  All the key plot moments are there, but so many key character moments from the book are missing.  Consequently, the movie feels incredibly rushed.  We see moments of Ender being clever, but very little of him building relationships and earning the respect of his team.

This rushed feeling is common in adaptations from books, but I felt it all the more keenly because I wanted this movie to be amazingly awesome instead of just good.  Also, they changed a few minor details (technology, locations, and timelines) that nonetheless REALLY BOTHERED ME.  That is probably just my OCD speaking, however.

Apart from the cast, I feel I should also acknowledge the visual effects, which were pretty awesome.  The Battle Room in particular was extremely well done.

Overall, the Ender’s Game movie is worth watching.  It’s got a whole lot of talent behind it, and mainly suffers because (a) it is not the book, and (b) in recent years we’ve been getting a surprising number of science fiction and fantasy films that are edging into “great” territory.  I wanted this movie to be there, but I don’t think it quite made it.

Thor: The Dark World

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest Marvel movie.  (See what I did there?  THOR-oughly? I crack myself up sometimes.)  As with its predecessor and the other films in the Marvel cinematic universe, it is not a deep film, but it is rather ridiculously fun.  It seemed formulated entirely to give the audience a chance for more banter between Thor and Loki amidst a lot of action.

Things I liked: the aforementioned banter, the return of Darcy and Selvig from the first movie, and the little touches of humour throughout (many courtesy of Darcy and Selvig).  Also, the stingers during the credits.  Both of them.

Things I didn’t like: it seemed awfully coincidental that Jane would stumble upon the MacGuffin that the whole movie revolved around, we saw too little of Sif and the Warriors Three (they should totally get their own spinoff), and the story meandered an awful lot to get to the point.

I don’t know if it is quite as good as the first Thor movie, but it is a solid entry into Marvel’s slate of movies.  I don’t think it will disappoint fans of Thor, the Avengers, or the Marvel cinematic universe in general.

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