Sunday, 27 October 2013

REVIEW - ENDER'S GAME


You might have read a lot about the politics of Orson Scott Card, the writer of the novel on which Ender's Game is based. You might not have read so much about the politics of the film. And I, bizarrely, find myself sympathising with Card right now. Gavin Hood has taken an intelligent, thoughtful story and crafted out of it a lumbering, confused wannabe blockbuster, whose reach extends far beyond its grasp. Hood hurls things into his screenplay, as if expecting you to perceive their significance within the film from its position as a big-league sci-fi fantasy. Harrison Ford dangles from the edges of a few scenes, evidently of supposed importance but rarely of any practical importance. The dialogue is rudimentary at best. As director, Hood displays an eagerness for creating drama and grand spectacle through innovative use of space, but he's clumsy at this, and inconsistent with some of the set's most crucial architectural geography. Alas, not a lot of it is architectural, as this is a film fixated on the concept of the virtual as actual, of fantasy as reality, and violent, dispassionate fantasy. It advocates this such dangerous detachment from one's actions, and irresponsibility in committing them, or at least for a time. Because I don't think that's the point. A vital twist unveils the film's true morality, yet this runs contrary to the philosophies it has pushed throughout. Hood changes heart, championing one side of the argument and then the other; I have not read the novel, but this strikes me as a gross misreading of it, as I cannot imagine the book becoming such a success were its politics so muddled. In how it represents a refreshing about-face, though, the twist is actually deeply satisfying, and the film from here on is markedly stronger, though brief. But a sour taste remains from the promotion of the erosion of individual liberty, the crass casting of females and non-caucasians in minor roles only, and the ludicrous assumption not only that, mere decades from now, everyone on earth will speak english, but that every planet in the universe will observe earth time.