mysecondcupofcoffee


The Enemy’s Gate is Down

Rarely do I say this, but the recent book-to-movie endeavor, “Ender’s Game,” was a home run. When I read Ender’s Game, I was instantly a fan. It was brilliant and engaging, and it was just disturbing enough to make you sit back and rethink your entire life and the depravity of human nature. For all those reasons, I was skeptical about the movie. The first time I saw the trailer, I looked at my husband and said with supreme confidence, “they are going to screw this up.” Yup, I am that jaded to book-to-movie attempts.

Well, I’ll admit it when I’m wrong. I was very wrong.

Here’s why it was so good: Casting and sets.

The casting was awesome; young Asa, though not the age that Ender was in the book (and understandably so) was a star. He conveyed the emotion of Ender without being over the top. Harrison Ford was good enough to make you question up until the end whether you (“you” being those who haven’t read the book) should like his character or not. And then there were the sets. When I read a book, I envision the scene. This movie made the vision in my head….come to life. I’m speaking mostly to the game room; it was perfect!

Here’s the deal, my biggest fear was that the movie wasn’t going to convey the internal thought process of Ender. The book is built on his thoughts and emotions. How do you convey that in a movie? You don’t. This is where so many book-to-movie transitions die a painful and gruesome death. This is where Ender’s Game got it right. They didn’t try to convey all of it, they simply told the story using just enough of it to move the story along. The didn’t force it. They also didn’t try to do things to enhance a story that is fine the way it is. The cinematic treachery that was Prince Caspian is a perfect example of how a movie might do this. Caspian took a perfectly good story and tried to “make it better” and in the process, the creators of the movie took a jagged and bloody knife and slit the throat of this would-be great film. Ender’s Game didn’t do this. Though there are many other books in the series that they could have tried to rob from, they didn’t. The creators told the story in Ender’s Game and didn’t try to whore the film out using other plot twists or climaxes. *Insert standing ovation here*

So, to sum up, Ender’s Game is a home run. Go see it.


“It looks pretty cool, but I think it’s bad.”

I’m a Will Smith fan; I openly admit that. But my affection for the ageless man that is Will Smith notwithstanding, I wasn’t thrilled by the trailer for After Earth, therefore, I had no desire to see the movie. It wasn’t for lack of a storyline in the clips, but rather for my general dislike for post-apocalyptic or apocalyptic movies. However, through a series of—somewhat unfortunate—events, my friend and I sat through Epic and After Earth at the drive in.

Epic was a kid’s movie at heart with recognizable voices and a cute plot. What made it delightful was how pretty it was. It wasn’t as beautiful as, say, Atonement or Avatar, but it wasn’t meant to be. It was a children’s movie and it stayed true to that. It had Cinderella-like predictability, with a dash of Fern Gully thrown in for good measure. Don’t waste good money to see it in theaters, but it wouldn’t be a bad RedBox flick.

**Spoilers**

Then came After Earth (Click here for a quick synopsis). My summary is this: It should have focused on character development or action, not both, and the trailer lied. Allow to unpack those thoughts in reverse order.

The trailer for this movie (not film, movie) made it seem as though the characters were going to be fighting off all the evil creatures on Earth every moment of every day. They didn’t. In fact, one of the creatures on Earth actually saves Kitai (Jaden Smith)…TWICE! And Cypher Raige (Will Smith), who is stuck in half a crashed plane for the ENTIRE movie, isn’t attacked by bad creatures once, even though his legs are a bloody mess and there are rotting corpses around him that smell tasty, I assume, to the local creatures. Also, there is only one truly terrible creature on Earth, based on the movie, and that creature (Ursa) isn’t even from Earth! It was being transported in the same shuttle that Cypher and Kitai are on. Why was it being transported? Oh, I have no idea… this is one of the several unexplained parts of the story. I won’t even get into all those unanswered questions; it’s too early in the morning for my blood pressure to rise that much.

Sigh… deep breathes…

Okay, moving on. This movie should have been about character development or action, not both. Cypher and Kitai aren’t close  at the beginning of the movie and by the end, Cypher is saluting his son as an equal. So how do we get from Point A to Point B? Why, we throw this father/son due onto a hostile planet and hope for the best, of course. The father has little faith in the son, and the son has a lot to prove. There is also a dead sister and his father’s reputation mixed in there too, but quite honestly, I don’t care enough to explain any more than I already have. See what I mean though? Great fodder for a character-based movie. But instead of allowing this to be the focus, the powers that be tried to add in all sorts of action. Now, character development in this film without action would have sucked, it’s true, but a bit more focus would have been nice. As it was, I was confused as to why I should care (more than the human side of me not wanting a cute kid to die on a hostile planet, of course).

So sum up: This movie is a C+ at best. The fact that I felt tricked into watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie notwithstanding (did YOU see his name mentioned in a trailer?!), the story had a good message. However, that good message was drowned in a sea of unanswered questions and misconceptions.

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the title of this blog, it’s a line from the movie (one of the few clever lines when you see it in context) and I thought it made a very fitting title for this cinematic review.