Ender’s Game

December 31, 2013 at 7:41 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I have read the book (by Orson Scott Card) and most of the sequels and prequels, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see the film.

Warning: Plot spoilers.

The premise remains the same: aliens will destroy the Earth useless we find a brilliant commander; no stone is left unturned, and children are selected and trained from an early age – just like the Spartans, and it is no coincidence that the top commander has the title of Stratos. Ender Wiggin is one such child-military prodigy.

The film shows how rich the book is. Quite a bit of the book had to be cut to get everything into the book.

The book builds up tension by taking Ender through a series of simulated battles – each of increasing complexity and increasing force imbalance. In the book Ender is often hugely outnumbered and in a bad tactical situation. Most of these are missing from the film. Instead, Ender’s genius is explained to us by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford). Consequently, the ‘final’ trick on Ender, is not set-up properly.

Abigail Breslin makes an appearance as Valentine Wiggin – Ender’s sister. Though it was interesting to see how she is developing as an actor, post Nim’s Island and Little Miss Sunshine.

The film focusses on the human side. Ender, ably played by Asa Butterfield, is put through many emotional and psychological tests. Ender passes, but, his humanity is stripped away from him.

I was disappointed in the way Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) turned out. The richness and sadness in his character did not make it to the screen. The book created a love-hate relationship between Ender and Mazer – which set Ender up for his graduation simulated battle. Not much of this made it to the screen. Finally, Mazer ended up with a South Africa accent: his speech was too clipped, and lacked the slower deeper drawl more common to New Zealanders.

If you have read the books, and really like them, and Ender, then wait for the DVD, or free-to-air. Or if you are ‘brave’, then go see it on the big screen and enjoy the special effects. With Orson Scott Card as the other co-writer, it is not another ‘Starship Troopers’ – which completely inverted the philosophy set out in the book, and ruined the opening chapter.

If you haven’t, it is a reasonable science fiction movie.

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The Hunger Games: Catching the Fire

December 18, 2013 at 8:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Jennifer Lawrence :: Katniss Everdeen; Josh Hutcherson :: Peeta Mellark; Woody Harrelson :: Haymitch Abernathy; and Donald Sutherland :: President Snow are re-united for another view of life in a possible future North America (Pan-Am).

Sutherland does a great villain.

Lawrence is once more the conflicted reluctant role model; part of the conflict is what is she suppose to be modeling.

Some time in the past, the Capital won some kind of conflict with the other Districts, and has occupied them ever since with ‘peace keepers’. The Games are a tool of oppression and distraction. For a while I could not think of the Olympics as ‘just the Olympics’.

I found the second film in the series depressing.

As an indictment of 20% of the world enjoy 80% of the world’s resources – it is really in your face.

Once you suspend disbelief and enter the world of the movie, you are horrified that they have access to amazing nano-technology (and who knows what other ‘magic’), that you wonder how their world can be so set up so inequitably. A high level of technical advancement does not mean a high level of ethical and moral advancement.

Funny Face

December 11, 2013 at 6:40 am | Posted in Dance Review, DVD Review, Film Review | 1 Comment
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I saw this on DVD the other day.

Audrey Hepburn plays Jo Stockton, a book worm thrust somewhat unwillingly into the world of haute couture – in Paris no less. Fred Astaire plays Dick Avery, a fashion photographer who discovers Jo. Kay Thompson plays Maggie Prescott, the editor-in-chief of Quality magazine.

It is clearly the inspiration for some of the scenes in “The Devil Wears Prada”: Prescott’s offices and ante-chambers are clearly a 50’s version of Miranda Priestly’s offices.

Hepburn, Astaire, and Thompson are accomplished dancers: Hepburn was lyrical, Thompson was more in the broadway dancer mold, and Astaire was just Astaire.

The story is along the lines of ‘caterpillar to butterfly’ – Jo, the book worm, discovers fashion, beauty, and love. It is done with a particular 50’s sense of panache and naivety.

Worth watching to see three excellent dancers, Astaire’s choreographical genius, Paris in the 50’s, and the clothes of course!

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