Just got back from an early screening of Ender’s Game. Overall enjoyed the movie, but it got me to thinking about books and movies.
First thing, there may be spoilers in this blog, so if you plan to see the movie or if you haven’t read the book, you may want to stop reading this post for the time being…
Second thing, this blog is not meant to in any way promote, bring down, or even to pertain to anyone’s particular feelings about the author, Orson Scott Card. Regardless of Mr. Card’s politics, Ender’s Game has always been and still is one of my favorite books. If you have an axe to grind about Mr. Card, please do it elsewhere.
Now with those two things out of the way, on to the topic at hand.
So, going into the theater tonight, I was excited to see this movie. I always loved this story, the fast paced read, the surprise ending, the inevitability of the ending. As the book shows the slow development of a child into a soldier, a tactician, and a leader, I was wondering how they would capture that in the movie. To my notion, they tried, but kind of fell down on the job. Only two of Ender’s many battle scenarios from the book are shown in the movie. The close camaraderie that builds between him and his army is reduced to just a few scenes, making the part where they all come back together at the end to be his army in the big climax seem a little hollow. In fact, that’s how I would describe the entire movie. Hollow. Was it cool seeing Ender? Valentine? Petra? Battle school? Buggers? Yes, on all counts. But at the end, when Ender looks at Graff and says “It’s how we win that’s important”, I wanted to tell the writers of the movie, “It’s how we get to the end that matters.” Does the movie have most of the important plot points? Yes. Good special effects? Yes. Good casting? Sure. The writing was a little stilted, but all in all it hits the marks. Still, the heart was missing. I felt like I was watching the highlight show of what should have been a six hour mini-series.
Now, it’s never possible to get it exactly right, but getting the heart of something is the key. Say what you will about The Lord of the Rings movies, they get the heart of Tolkien pretty darn good, even if there are entire swaths of story left out, some very wisely. Still, those three movies tell a cohesive story that is quite enjoyable. The Wizard of Oz, the same. This can be done right.
As I was seeing this with my writer friend, Bethany, we couldn’t help but wonder if we would actually would want a novel we wrote turned into a movie. If I got a movie that captured the heart of my story, or possibly something like a series (like The Walking Dead) to bring my novel to life, I would be ecstatic. As I walked out of the theater tonight, though, I couldn’t help but wonder what Mr. Card thought of his most famous book being given what I consider relatively short shrift.
That being said, if anyone in Hollywood wants to chat about any of my stories, I will be glad to meet with you.
And with that, it’s nearly 1 am, and I have to be functional tomorrow. To bed with me! Happy Wednesday everyone!