Ender’s Game (2013)
Written and Directed by Gavin Hood
Very minor spoilers ahead.
I read Ender’s Game a week before seeing the movie, and now I almost wish I hadn’t, because the book is fucking great. I don’t know whether I would have liked the movie more, or less, if I hadn’t read the book first, but I do know that I won’t be able to talk about the movie without talking about the book.
Don’t worry, though—I’m not going to make a checklist of everything the book did right that the movie did wrong. In fact, I’ll say up front that I don’t think that movie adaptations of books have any business being ‘faithful’. Or rather, I think they should be faithful in specific ways, and not in others. For instance, it’s important that an adaptation captures the themes, character arcs, and, whenever possible, the tone of its source. It’s not important that it hits every plot beat, or revisits every location, or namedrops every side character. That sort of keeping faith does little beyond providing little jolts of recognition to fans of the source material. A movie can get bogged down in superfluous details, or tripped up in its pacing, if it just methodically ticks off a checklist of things that happened to have happened in the book. And this, unfortunately, is what happened with Ender’s Game.
Continue reading Ender’s Game: Hollywood, Please Let Me Re-Edit It
From left: Moderator, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
The World’s End (2013)
Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
It’s a tough thing to come back to your hometown after years of avoidance. Revisiting streets and buildings you once knew so well almost makes you feel like you’re walking through your own personal shrine to your past. One might even categorize it as an almost otherworldly experience.
But the nostalgia only lasts so long, as you slowly realize that really nothing has stayed the same: a Starbucks has replaced your local coffee shop, the faces you once knew have been replaced with haggard and older models, the school bully who made your life hell doesn’t look twice at you, and the punks on the corner have blue-ink blood and don’t back down even after you’ve knocked their heads off.
Continue reading The World’s End: Not The Seth Rogen One, The Other One
These characters are so. Fucking. Boring.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro
Warning: spoilers ahead.
2013 was supposed to be the year that saved big screen science fiction. When this summer’s lineup began filling out, I had more anticipation for this movie season than I’d had in years. Names were popping up like Blomkamp, del Toro, Shyamalan (fuck the haters), Abrams, Cuarón, Wright (and Pegg and Frost), and startlingly, there seemed to be more original properties on the horizon than sequels/adaptations: Elysium, After Earth, Gravity, Pacific Rim, Oblivion, Ender’s Game, Star Trek Into Darkness, The World’s End, etcetera. From what I saw of the trailers, these movies didn’t look like your typical disaster porn invasion movies, á la, Battle: Los Angeles or Transformers (except Pacific Rim, though its premise justifies, and even necessitates it) nor were they part of the insufferably relentless deluge of Marvel/DC sequels and spinoffs (except Into Darkness, whose trailers gave it the tone of a Dark Knight movie; y’all looking forward to Thor: The Dark World?). I loved the designs I saw in the Oblivion trailer, I liked the visual approaches of After Earth and Ender’s Game, and I love the idea of Sandra Bullock leading a stranded-in-space drama.
Continue reading Pacific Rim Is The Dullest Movie You’ll Ever See About Giant Robots Fighting Sea Monsters
The Lords of Salem (2013)
Written & Directed by Rob Zombie
If there’s one movie trend I can totally get behind, it’s the “B Movie Love Letter”. It’s almost its own genre at this point. Recent examples include Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, Wright and Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (and their upcoming The World’s End), Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained (really his whole catalogue), Ti West’s House of the Devil, Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone, and Peter Travis’ Dredd. And Star Wars and Indiana Jones are some not so recent examples. These filmmakers mine their inspirations for their best aspects and transplant them into modern productions—which are almost inevitably better than the movies they pay homage to, as the ‘originals’ were often made quickly and on the cheap just to provide cheap thrills and make a buck or two. Dredd was much talked about last year, and I’m hoping The Lords of Salem gets similar attention this year, because it’s even more fun.
Continue reading The Lords of Salem: A Love Letter To A Lost Genre