Friday was a mixture of feelings. I have no idea why, but I realize now, looking at my blogging archive, that December seems to always induce a cacophony of feelings; and hence, a lot of blog posts. I did not do well in my long exam (given that I fell asleep while studying) and did quite well in my long quiz. This was quite unexpected, as I barely studied for that long quiz.
Anyway, after all academic requirements were done for the day, there were still a couple of hours before we had to start getting ready for the carol-singing competition (hereafter referred to as ‘carolfest’). We got to talking about movies that are now showing and a couple of classmates and I decided on watching Ender’s Game. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long time because the story was so..epic. One of my classmates said that the author’s not so great in real life as he’s actively homophobic, etc. but I think that that shouldn’t hinder me from being able to appreciate his work (although I admittedly give him money in the process of doing so). Now, I am not just writing to review the movie, but I admit that I will rant about it somehow in this post. So be warned: this post may contain spoilers. (If you want to skip the review and go on to the other part of my day, just speed-scroll down.)
One of the things I loved about Ender’s Game (and I guess, consequently, the creativity of Orson Scott Card) was the scientific accuracy of many of the parts. It never ceases to amaze me how authors like him can write futuristic novels so far in the future that generations later, people will still consider their novels futuristic. Also, their technological ideas in the books, albeit seeming far-fetched, seem to be more and more possible as advances arise in the technological front; that is, their ideas and current advancements seem to coincide. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if inventors get their ideas from books such as these. Being a molecular biologist with a decent background on chemistry, mathematics, physics, and general biology, the original Ender’s series appealed to me as well as the books about Bean. The political stuff though, not so much. Anyway, onto the movie.
I am currently taking film as a GE (General Education) subject, in which they encourage us to dissect films. As it was, I was pretty much on the lookout for any indicators present in the movie about plans for any sequels. Disappointingly, I found things that suggest otherwise. For example, they made Ender and Bean go to Battle School in the same launchie group. Bean was supposed to shine on his own, even if both boys were supposed to enter Battle School at a younger age than normal. One of the problems, I think, was that people were so tall; it was hard to emphasize that Ender and Bean were advanced earlier than they should have been. This was a key point to the story, as a lot of the discrimination towards them came from their age, since Battle School was a place in which teenagers valued experience often proportional to the length of time a person lives. I mean honestly, it was a little amusing to see Bonzo toughening it up to Ender while looking up at him.
They also made Ender and Bean quite close, although Alai was injected into the friendship moments before Ender was catapulted to the Salamander Army. Bean was supposed to be in a launchie group with his brother, although unknowingly. This is a crucial change from the book, as it affects the way Bean will discover his family in any future sequel (if there will be any). Also, Bean was supposed to be really curious about what all the hype about Ender was about before actually meeting him; he was supposed to be pretty arrogant when they finally got to be in the same team in the Dragon Army. Bernard wasn’t supposed to be in the Dragon Army; he was supposed to be the bully left behind, a sign of Ender winning over his followers and how they will have come to love him. I must say that while I disapprove of these changes as it pretty much discourages those who have read the books to think of the possibility of a sequel, they pretty much work out in the overall scheme of the movie.
Don’t get me wrong; the movie was epic. Even one classmate I was with, who didn’t read the books, said so. However, I dislike how they didn’t include more fight scenes, both during Ender’s leadership of the Dragon Army and more simulations in Command School. These challenges were supposed to emphasize what a great tactical leader and strategist he was, and how he came to be one who commands respect and love from his soldiers without being lenient. Also, one thing I really, really hate about this movie was how they made lose one battle/simulation in Command School. I think it was an important part of the story how Ender never lost; how, no matter how dire the situation may be, he always won. It made him undefeatable and even more admirable and loved in the eyes of all those under his charge. One more thing to note was how they didn’t show the subtle signs that should have befuddled Ender’s jeesh: how they were supposed to be required to turn their heads to the left and to the right while issuing commands, etc. which were supposed to be indicatory of their actual relaying of orders to real people, unbeknownst to them.
The ultimate thing, I think, that absolutely shouted to me, “THERE WILL BE NO SEQUEL” was how they made Ender go off into space with the cocoon of the Hive Queen, alone. For all those who’ve read the books, we all know that Valerie was supposed to offer him to go with her in one of the colony ships, both to start anew and to avoid being ‘used’ by the other countries that will most likely fight over governance of the Earth once the Formics were defeated. From a producer’s point of view, I knew that a lot of what was written in the books won’t just sell to a big crowd if made into a movie; some of the things were just to scientific and will only really appeal and fascinate people with a pretty decent science background and/or people ‘in love’ with the idea of alien life forms. However, sometimes I wish there was funding for movies/stories like these, like for Star Wars.
Overall, this movie was epic and awesome. I don’t know how I don’t get tired of saying those words, but I can’t think of any other words to describe the awe I felt while watching the movie. Although I felt that some scenes were lacking, this rendition did do the book(s) some justice. The effects were astounding and almost flawless; the portrayal of the asteroid the Formics once inhabited (and where Command School was then located) was interesting and may be exactly what the author had in mind; and the casting, despite their inappropriate heights, did justice to the book(s)’ characters. I must say, I can’t help but fall for the movie, even for just a little bit.
Around 4:30 pm, we had to go back to school to get ready for the carolfest. In high spirits, I was pretty optimistic of our performance..at least until we got to the venue. We were singing it out against 11 other teams (10, if you count out the Rockhounds who basically do Christmas carols’ spoofs every year) and I had a solo part in our choice piece. When they read out the criteria, I felt quite resigned upon knowing that 15% was allotted for the props alone, of which we had none. But we were the 7th performer, which was my favorite number; the curtains were closed prior to our performance, giving us enough time to troubleshoot outside of our performance time limit (and which also gave us an advantage, as the audience and the judges were able to take a short break from 6 repetitions of the contest piece). All ‘omens’ were popping up to our favor, so I still had more than a shred of hope that we might win, even just 2nd or 3rd place.
But, as the night came to an end, we finally had to face the truth: we didn’t win. Admittedly, no one sings in a competition to not win (even if you count the Rockhounds; they got a minor award), but it doesn’t mean we weren’t proud of what we accomplished. Our conductor, a senior, told us that no matter what, our performance right there was the best he’s ever heard us. And while that may be sugarcoating it, I think it’s important to note that this was not the end of our lives. Our efforts may not have been so fruitful, but this just closes another chapter of our lives. I don’t know if I just have this mindset because I’ve joined the University-wide carolfest and have won only 3rd place once, and know that losing on a much bigger scale has this effect on dampening any future feelings of losing; however, I know this much: Moving on, when done right and in an appropriate pace (and of course, with a positive attitude) can open doors to bigger, more impressive things.
So, here’s to the future. And because it’s the 7th of December (my favorite number), I’m going to take this chance to greet you all a very merry Christmas. 🙂
Over and out,