Monday, November 11, 2013

Of Gates and Hammers

This post covers two new releases - Ender's Game and Thor: The Dark World.  Look, I wanted to be excited about these - especially Ender's, but I fear there is little joy here.  Let me be clear - both of these films are solid efforts, but neither one really worked for me.  Let's discuss.

Nope, the gate's still up.
First, Ender's Game. This was always an ambitious project, which might explain why the book was published in the mid-80s and the film is just now seeing the light of day.  Orson Scott Card created an intricate, fascinating world with this series and I worried a bit.  It turns out that my anxiety on this one was well placed.  Too much of this rich narrative is skimmed over which pulls the punch from the ultimate reveal.  (Also, I need a re-read on this, but some relationships are just not quite right in this one, at least by my recollection.)  While the movie still makes some good points about whether or not war should have rules, what it takes to make a good leader, and the ethics of using child soldiers, this Game wastes some excellent actors and some very pretty effects. It isn't a hot mess, by any stretch of the imagination, but I grieve what could have been.  Director Gavin Hood (he directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine which alone says a few things) has not managed to breach the enemy's gate with this film.  Skip the movie and read the book.

(See - I didn't even get into Card's politics and let me tell you, that took some doing.  I myself am a little conflicted as I like the book tremendously but find Card himself to be - well, let's just say we disagree on some things.  Not sure what I mean?  Click here. For a view on whether Card's politics are affecting the box office, click here.)

Hammer?  No, but I've got some pliers.
Second, Thor: The Dark World.  This is a different kettle of Norse fish.  While Ender's Game expects a too-thin story to support too much weight, Thor's just having fun.  There's nothing wrong with having fun, and watching Tom Hiddleston strut and mock isn't a bad way to while away half an afternoon.  Provided you don't expect anything more than that, you'll be happy.  The Rainbow Bridge (Bifrost) has never looked better and Idris Elba's Heimdall is just cool.  He's far more menacing than Anthony Hopkins' Odin, which is a pity.  I mean, shouldn't you tremble when Odin sweeps into a room?  The story's thin, which is a shame, as I wanted to see Christopher Eccleston's Malekith glower and scheme and scare.  Instead, he's a generic bad guy who wants to destroy things Just Because.  He also picks up flawless English when the plot requires it.  This is not to pick on Eccleston - there were a lot of deliveries from the Plot Convenience Warehouse in this production.  Look, it's fun.  Buy your popcorn, say a little prayer of gratitude for the creative mind of Walt Simonson, and enjoy.

Then go to your local comic shop and buy the Simonson omnibus.

No comments: