Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Movie Review: The Best Man Holiday (R – 123 minutes)

The original Best Man was released in 1999, and featured several up and coming young stars (at the time).  Harper, the “best man” in the title, was about to release his autobiographical novel as he was arriving to be the best man at his friend Lance’s (a pro football player) wedding.  The movie combined many storylines into one weekend, as Jordan got an advance copy of the book, and knew that Harper once slept with Lance’s fiancĂ© Mia when she was looking for revenge for Lance’s affairs.  That happened years ago, and Harper is hoping to make it through the wedding, fending off advances from Jordan while waiting for his girlfriend Robyn to arrive.  Mia’s crazy friend Shelby shows up to throw things off, and Quentin and Julian, the other groomsmen, have their own issues, including Julian falling for Candace, a stripper.  Writer director Malcolm D. Lee actually did an incredible job putting all these storylines into one complete movie that was alternatingly fun and painful.  At the core was the friendship of the guys, and working through their issues to stand by each other.

The film was a success, and many of the stars when on to do some really great things.  That allowed Malcolm D. Lee to bring them all back together – 14 years later – for a Christmas party.  

Lance is thinking of retirement from the NFL, and he and Mia ask all their friends to come in for the holidays.  She does have an ulterior motive, but that is played out beautifully.  Lance still hasn’t quite forgiven Harper.  Harper and Robyn are expecting, after trying unsuccessfully several times.  Harper’s last book hasn’t sold and they are hurting financially because of the fertility treatments.  Julian and Candace are married with two daughters and running a private school together when Julian discovers an old YouTube video of Candace.  Shelby is a ‘star’ on the Real Housewives of Westchester, and every bit the insane diva.  Jordan is now a big time publisher and dating a handsome man with dimples, but not really committing.  And Quentin, well, he’s still crazy.

The movie works, and it works well.  There are several reasons.  One of them is the ability of Malcolm D. Lee to tell several interesting stories on top of one another.  And yes, while those stories are a little soap-opera-y, they are really entertaining.  As Quentin says at one point, “That was some melodramatic shit.”  He also wrote Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, which is actually much better than you think it is.  So check that out if you haven’t seen it.  He has also directed Roll Bounce, which again had the alternating hilarious and sad moments, and Undercover Brother, one of my favorite movies – which really needs a sequel.  Hey, if it took him 14 years to sequelize the Best Man, maybe there’s hope for Undercover Brother?
The chemistry between these stars is another reason the movie is successful.  They have known each other for the 14 years, and that shows on screen.  Honestly, the scene where the guys perform for the women is fantastic. 

  • Taye Diggs plays Harper with a quiet desperation.  He really just wants to take care of Robyn, and make sure that his friends are happy, but unfortunately, he takes a round-a-bout way to get there.  He’s stunning, and probably the best actor in the bunch, and he is given plenty to do in this movie.

  • Sanaa Lathan plays Robyn, and spends most of this movie really pregnant – which made me want this to turn into Blade (she played his mother).  She also does a good job in the movie, struggling to stay positive when Harper gets negative, and trying to keep everything moving in the right direction.

  • Morris Chestnut plays Lance, and while the logos for the team he plays for were fake (if the NFL won’t give you licensing permission, why use the NY Giants name?  Why not use a fake name?), his body is real.  There were not nearly enough shirtless scenes for him.  He again plays Lance as really angry, mainly with Harper.  He is tolerating having everyone over to his house because Mia wants it.

  • Monica Calhoun plays Mia with a simple understated grace and elegance.  She really has the most to do in this movie and is excellent.  Her joy at bringing all of her friends together for the holidays is infectious!

  • Harold Perrineau plays Julian, who basically gets to just be shocked at his stripper wife’s past.  He knew she was a stripper – why is he that shocked?  Well, he’s great, and does get some fun moments.

  • Regina Hall plays Candace, and while she’s wonderful in a few of those Scary Movies, she’s really good in this too.  She does a good job of keeping her past under wraps, until it comes to light, and then does a good job defending it and moving on.
  • Nia Long plays Jordan as a complete Alpha female who needs nothing and no one to help her with her life.  She again does a good job playing the transition of Jordan from uptight and efficient to a more understanding and aware friend.

  • Eddie Cibrian and his dimples play Brian, who Jordan is dating, but not really committing to.  He doesn’t get much to do, except for one scene with the guys, and a few others with Jordan.

  • Terrence Howard plays Quentin, and he is the ambling stoner of the group.  He’s a very successful promoter, so he has a lot of money.  He is basically the comedy relief in this movie, and does a good job at that.

  • Melissa De Sousa plays Shelby and she is out-of-control hilarious, until the one scene where she is out-of-control in front of her daughter, and then it’s a little heartbreaking.  She plays it just right.

The cast is all great, and they do a great job with the storylines they are given.  Yes, there are a lot, and yes, it’s a little melodramatic, but truthfully, it’s really well done.  It alternates between hilarious and touching in a really well-crafted way.  It does earn the R, mainly with language and some sex.  Also, in its first weekend of release, it gained back double the entire budget.  So that means that the little bit at the end that set up a sequel will definitely give us a third one.   Hopefully quicker than 14 years.

8 out of 10 – really entertaining, really fun, really touching, and really well done.   Gained points for a shirtless Morris Chestnut (yes, I am more on board with his rumored casting as T’Challa now), but on the other hand, lost points for a shirtless Terrence Howard, yikes.  Gained points for the jogging scene, watching Taye Diggs pretend to be out of shape.  Simultaneously gained and lost points for all the melodrama – but hey, that’s what we want!

Bonus Video 1 – Taye on the Daly Show.

Bonus Video 2 – Undercover Brother – seriously, if you haven’t seen this, rent it now.

Bonus Video 3 – Cast interviews.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Movie Review: Last Vegas (PG13 – 105 minutes)

There are plenty of movies that involve a story of several old friends getting together to relive their former glory – or hang out for one last hurrah.  Usually, played for laughs, these stories can be pretty funny.  Space Cowboys was a recent comedy, featuring a bunch of old dudes. 

Last Vegas is the story of four old friends, Billy, Paddy, Archie, and Sam who are getting together because Billy is getting remarried (to a much younger woman) in Las Vegas.  They grew up together in New York, and have since spread out throughout the country.  

Billy and Paddy had a falling out after Paddy’s wife died, and they have not spoken in about a year.  Billy was delivering a eulogy at the funeral of a friend, which made him realize his own mortality, and he proposed to his young girlfriend during the eulogy.  Sam and Archie travel to New York to convince Paddy to travel with them to Vegas for the wedding.  Hijinks ensue.  These hijinks include winning a bunch of money, staying in the penthouse suite, meeting a lounge singer, clubbing, getting in a fight with a young hothead, and throwing a huge bachelor party. 

The movie is lighthearted and fun, and really non-committal.  By that, I mean that you really do not feel attached to any particular character, but you do enjoy the story.  Each of the four main actors is wonderful – that goes without saying, however the movie is harmless fluff.  Honestly, I appreciated the smart humor and the scenes with the four of them together playing off each other.  The movie is funny, but not hilarious.  It is directed by Jon Turteltaub, who did both the National Treasure movies (which were great) and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which is better than you think). 

Usually in a movie with a cast this old, the story attempts to throw in a drama storyline by making one of the characters sick and/or dying – spoiler alert – no one in this movie is sick and/or dying.  Everyone makes it through, and it has a happy ending.  It’s the perfect little piece of fluff for this time of year, when your other options are mainly heavy-duty Oscar-bait pieces.
  • Michael Douglas plays Billy, and his fake tan is exceptionally off-putting, as well as his relationship with a woman less than half his age.  Don’t worry, his buddies give him plenty of crap for that.  Douglas does get the chance to show his range and have a few dramatic scenes.  He’s good, and certainly capable for this movie.

  • Robert deNiro  plays Paddy, and while given the chance to show his range, he continues to show the range that he has become famous for – which is mainly slightly irritated to angry.  But hey, it’s Robert deNiro, you’re not expecting more than that from him.

  • Morgan Freeman plays Archie and of course has the best lines – but then, he is Morgan Freeman.  He’s better at comedy than I expected.  The scene where he sneaks out of his house so as not to upset his son is particularly funny.

  • Kevin Kline plays Sam, and his character was the one I liked the least, not his fault, he was fine, but his character is all excited because his wife gave him a condom for his trip and permission to cheat, so he spends the majority of the front half of the movie looking for some strange.  It’s awkward, and yes – somewhat funny, but mainly just awkward.

  • Mary Steenburgen plays the lounge singer Diana, who of course suddenly draws the attention of two of our leads.  She’s fine, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t doing her own singing, but she looks great and was very funny in her directness.

  • Jerry Ferrara basically plays Turtle – or Dean as he’s called in this movie.  He’s funny, and has a good time, but doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen him do before. 

  • Romany Malco plays Lonnie, which is basically the same character you’ve seen him play before.  He’s the very helpful hotel employee who caters to the guys’ wants.
  • The stunning Michael Ealy plays Archie’s son Ezra, and has very few scenes, but they are well-crafted enough to completely begin and end his character arc.

Like I said, the movie is harmless fun – and I liked that no one died.  Keep your expectations low and you'll be pleased.
7 out of 10 – Gained points for Michael Ealy, lost points for deNiro being touted as one of the greatest actors (sorry, I don’t get it), at least he’s good in this.  Gained points for RedFoo griding on deNiro – now that’s comedy – Lost points for the obligatory Vegas girl bikini contest.  Gained points for the ending that may or may not lead into a sequel.  We’ll see.

Bonus Video 1:  A Fish Called Wanda – Kevin Kline has rarely been as funny as he was in this:

Bonus Video 2:  The cast reading current pop lyrics – hilarious.

Bonus Video 3:  Cast Interviews - Talking on the Talk

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie Review: Thor: the Dark World (PG13 – 112 Minutes)

My main complaint about Ender’s Game was that it lacked a sense of fun.  I realize that is inherent in its subject matter, but it was still a complaint for me.  Good news, Thor 2 more than made up for it. 

Thor is a Marvel comics character, first published in 1962. However, the Thor world is taken directly from Norse mythology.  Thor, his brother Loki, and their father Odin are characters that have existed for centuries.  Their exploits are filled with the same arrogance and lessons that those of the Greek or Roman gods are.  It made perfect sense then that the first Thor movie would be directed by Kenneth Branaugh, who is as close to a living reincarnation of William Shakespeare as you will find on this planet.  The movie was part of the Marvel ‘Phase 1’ project, that was initialized by Iron Man, and Hulk.  It came just before Captain America, which led into the final piece of Phase 1, the magnificent Avengers.

Marvel then successfully announced plans for ‘Phase 2’, and even more successfully began them with Iron Man 3 earlier this year.  It wasn’t as good as Iron Man 1, but it was definitely better than Iron Man 2.  My expectations with Thor 2 were that it would continue that trend.  Where Thor 1 had a gorgeous look, fabulous action, and surprising sense of fun, I guessed that Thor 2 would drop the ball slightly.  Thor is always difficult to relate to – he’s a god from a different spacial realm – so half the success of Thor 1 was putting him on earth and giving it a ‘fish-out-of-water’ feel.  Thor 2 takes place mainly on Asgard with brief forays into other realms. 

This movie begins with Thor and his trusty hammer Mjolnir helping to restore peace and order to the 9 realms with the assistance of Lady Sif and the Warriors Three (in mythology, Thor also has the belt Megingjoro, the gloves Jarngreipr, and the staff Grioarvolr – so don’t complain about pronouncing Mjolnir – it could be worse).  Loki’s attack on New York took place just after the destruction of the bi-frost, and so the realms fell into chaos.  The warriors are starting to see the results of their work, and are locking up various baddies from all the realms in their special prison wing.  This gives Thor’s parents the opportunity to tell him he should think about settling down, probably with Sif, who seems to be holding a bit of a torch for him (Incidentally, in Norse Mythology, Thor is married to Sif).  However, there is an approaching convergence of the realms (basically the same deal that was happening in the Tomb Raider movie if you remember – the Alignment?), and the lines between realms are becoming blurred.  This just happens to be the perfect time for the long-ago vanquished Dark Elves (led by the 10th doctor and Heavy Duty from the first GI Joe movie) to wake from their slumber, seek out a weapon called the Aether, and seek to destroy all the realms in vengeance, or anger, or just bitterness – you know, all the things that Dark Elves are known for. 

Meanwhile, on earth, physicist Jane Foster, her intern Darcy, and Darcy’s new intern Ian are bumbling around London looking for their missing mentor Erik Selvig while noticing some strange side-effects of the convergence.  To her credit, Jane is attempting to not mope around because of not seeing Thor for two years and is even out on a date.  However, they find some weird gravity holes here and there, the occasional teleportation loop, and floating trucks.  While fooling around with these (I’m not going to lie, if I found a stairwell that I could drop a bottle down, it disappears before it hits the floor, then appears at the top to drop down again – that would keep me entertained almost all day), Jane accidentally gets sucked into one of the teleportation loops that puts her right where the Aether is being hidden.  The Aether must have really loved Black Swan because it decides to bond with her.   She then bamfs back to London, where Thor appears – because of course, Heimdall couldn’t see her for a moment, and Thor’s been constantly harassing Heimdall to watch Jane all the time.  During a brief skirmish with the cops, Thor realizes she’s infected with something un-earthly, and whisks her away to Asgard where the queen of the Borg takes a look at her and determines that whatever is in her is dangerous and will probably kill her.  Odin thinks this is just fine, delivering one of the best lines in the movie – that she no more belongs on Asgard, “than a goat belongs at a banquet table”, but Thor vows to save her.  There’s not much time, as the Dark Elves – drawn to the Aether the way Captain Barbosa and his crew are drawn to their pirate gold – appear in some dark spaceships and attack the palace.  Thor then has to defy his father to figure the best way to end Malekith’s plan (the leader of the Dark Elves) – which is just to destroy all nine realms.

This movie is really well directed by Alan Taylor, who has previously done some action-y TV shows, Game of Thrones in particular.  It looks gorgeous, especially the moments on Asgard, which is all golden and vertical, and we get to see much more of it this time around.  There is a moment where Thor and Jane are talking on a balcony overlooking a lake, and it looks like Naboo.  The Asgardian costumes are impressive as well.  The bits on earth are really hilarious, due mostly to the team of Stellan Skarsgaard and Kat Dennings, who seems to have earned herself more screen time this go-round.  The movie had a decent story, great action, and a wonderful sense of fun.  The final battle sequence is outstanding as it transfers from realm to realm and includes all the characters, alternating from silly to serious, to action packed to romantic.  The first Thor had a wonderful fun tone, and this sequel maintains and excels that tone.  It fits perfectly in the ongoing Marvel Phase, and makes me really look forward to their upcoming releases.  There is an extended Captain America: the Winter Soldier trailer attached to the front, as well as the after the credit bits that you knew would be there – and yes – stay all the way through the credits (not just to the Thanos part, but to the Schwarma part). 

Cast-wise, everyone really is settling in to their characters.
  • Chris Hemsworth again is magnificent as Thor.  He seems to enjoy himself, and does a great job of moping around Asgard longing for Jane.  He’s charismatic and beautiful, and yes, there is the prerequisite shot of him shirtless for the ladies.  It is completely gratuitous and has nothing to do with the plot, it’s just as excuse to let Hemsworth be shirtless for a moment.  I personally felt there could have been more than one scene like that, but I’ll take what I can get! 

  • Tom Hiddleston was the breakout in the first Thor and continued to astound in the Avengers.  Only someone as amazing as Hiddleston could hold down a villain role with that many heroes surrounding him.  He’s equally wonderful and vile in this.  You share Thor’s love and hate for Loki, desperately wishing you could trust him.  The scenes with Loki and Thor bickering and fighting are wonderful and speaks to the great chemistry that Hemsworth and Hiddleston have built.

  • Natalie Portman is fine as Jane Foster, she is a bit one-note, but loosens up more in this than I have ever seen her do before.  Jane’s attempted date at the beginning (with the magnificent Chris O’Dowd from Bridesmaids), and the bumbling through the rest of the film are really entertaining, and give Portman the chance to be human. 

  • Kat Dennings really does have an expanded bit, she’s not acting so much as just being Kat Dennings, but she is really fun and entertaining in this.  I especially liked her interaction with their new intern – Liam – and it still cracks me up when she calls the hammer Mew-Mew. 

  • Stellan Skarsgaard is also a little more expanded in this, and his Erik Selvig is barely recovered from Loki’s brain manipulation in the Avengers – and I do mean barely.  For example, the first time we see him, he is tearing around Stonehenge naked.  And that is absolutely as brilliant as you think it could be.

  • Anthony Hopkins is in this to play Odin to chew the scenery, and he does a magnificent job at that.  I particularly liked his interactions with Loki, and with Rene Russo as Frigga.  Russo actually gets a whole lot more to do in this movie as well, including an entire battle scene with Malekith.

  • Speaking of Malekith, Christopher Eccleston is the perfect choice as the villain in this movie.  He’s grim and determined and wants nothing more than to plunge all 9 realms into the eternal darkness of nothing.  I was really impressed with the dark elf makeup, especially on him.  It is subtle and beautiful. 

  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who I always enjoy, plays Malekith's second in command and has some beautiful dark elf makeup as well, and then an amazing prosthetic when turned into ‘the Kursed’.

  • Jaimie Alexander plays Lady Sif, and while she does seem to long after Thor a bit unrequitedly, she’s still a badass in battle.  There have been rumblings about her as Wonder Woman previous to this.  This will only add more momentum to that push. 

  • In terms of the other Warriors 3, Ray Stevenson continues to play Volstagg, Tadanobu Asano returns as Hogun (just with a longer wig in this one), and Zacary Levi steps in as Fandral instead of Josh Dallas (who I am guessing couldn’t return because he was busy with Once Upon A Time?).  They each get a bit of business in this movie, and are very fun. 

  • Idris Elba’s Heimdall is far more action-packed in this movie and actually gets a chance to leave his little bridge-projector room.   He also gets the chance to take the helmet off.  The sequence where he takes out an entire ship is wonderful.  He certainly proves that he’s worthy of his own superhero movie, just which one to cast him as…or perhaps James Bond?  He’d be perfect for that.

Go see this – and see it now – and see it in 3D.  It’s easily the movie I’ve enjoyed the most this year.  Quality-wise, Gravity is probably the best movie I’ve seen this year, but again – that’s not why I go to movies.  I go to be entertained.  I love all the details in this movie:  Thor hanging Mjolnir on a coat rack, the glimmer of Loki’s magic, Odin’s Raven, Frigga’s badassery, and the brief introduction of Benecio del Toro as the Collector.  It’s everything a fun summer movie should be, which is even more welcome now, in the midst of the Oscar Movie Season doldrums.

10 out of 10.  I loved it so much – it’s the only thing this year that made me want to turn around immediately after it was over and turn around to go right back in to see it again.  Iron Man 3 was okay, but made me really angry the first time out (maybe too much knowledge of the character beforehand?  I know nothing about Thor storylines).  Star Trek Into Darkness made me furious, even after multiple viewings made me okay with it, Man of Steel was a huge let down.  So far the only things that I really enjoyed were Fast 6 and the silly fun of Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.  This really took the cake.  Gained points for Hiddleston, he’s fantastic.  Gained points for Lady Sif being awesome.   Gained points for Kat Dennings – who was almost funny enough to make me want to watch Two Broke Girls – almost.  Gained points for Skarsgard running around Stonehenge naked – that’s worth the price of admission.   
Bonus Video 1: EMH –  This show is streaming on Netflix, and it is fantastic. 

Bonus Video 2:  The honest trailer for Thor 1. 

Bonus Video 3:  Loki taking over Comic-Con and belittling Chris Hardwick.  Hiddleston is amazing.

Bonus Video 4:  Cast Interviews:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movie Review: Ender’s Game (PG-13 – 114 minutes)

The novel Ender’s Game was first published in 1985 after the short story was published in 1977. It is a military science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card and spawned many sequel novels.  It is set in the future, after mankind has faced the Buggers or Formics, an insectoid alien species.  To prepare for the third conflict, children are being trained as tactical military commanders.  I welcome anyone who has read the novel (s) to respond to this and let me know if this movie sticks close to the book or interprets it a little more loosely.  It seems there is an entire political subplot involving Ender’s siblings that was not involved in the movie at all.  I did try reading the book a few years ago, but found it boring and stopped.  Maybe I’ll pick it up again?

In this movie, Ender Wiggin is at a school being trained in various war games.  He’s a “third” on a planet where couples are only allowed two students, so he is teased for that.  He’s got an older brother and an older sister.  He’s close with his sister, but really seems to loathe and fear his brother.  Every student has an electronic monitor attached, and one day Ender bests an older boy in a simulation, then gets his monitor removed (implying that he is flunking out), then gets in a fight with the bully.  He outsmarts him and beats him savagely.   Colonel Graff and Major Anderson come to his house to ask about it.  He states he kept beating him once he was down to prevent all further attacks.  With this explanation, they decide he will be a brilliant military tactician and whisk him away to “battle school”, where he is assigned to a squad, excels, then gets moved to another squad, excels (mainly in their zero-G laser tag, but also at weird little mind games), beats another kid basically to death, tries to quit, they bring in his sister to convince him to stay, then he gets promoted again, then goes to “command school” where he has to deal with Ben Kingsley as a Maori. 

If you can get past the general idea that the military in the future will be trusting children to run all operations, and you can get past the fact that we are hunting down a species that seems to have left us alone for a great many years, and you can get past the fact that there is very little action (except for in simulations), and you can get past the fact that there is zero fun in this movie (it’s really grim and somber – I get the that the tone is morose, but jeez, it’s still a sci-fi movie), you may enjoy it.  I did not - it's such a downer.

South African director Gavin Hood directed Tsotsi, Rendition, and the excitingly terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  This movie looks great, the effects are beautiful to look at, and the acting is very impressive.  It’s directed very well, and I would be curious to see if they continue with some of the other books and storylines.  This movie does finish very open-ended. 
  • I thought that Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin (the creepy kid with the big eyes from  Hugo) does a good job carrying this movie.  He is in virtually every scene, except for the two or three that are Harrison Ford and Viola Davis arguing.  Asa has a very emotive face, and you believe that this small kid really does want to do right, and excel at the tasks he is given.  However, when he goes dark and threatening – you really believe that as well.

  • Harrison Ford plays Harrison Ford in space.  He plays Colonel Graff who recruits Ender and helps to train these kids.  He’s gruff and serious and doesn’t allow them to be children, just keeps treating them as soldiers.  He does get to float horizontally for one scene, but even that just seems to annoy him.

  • Hailee Steinfeld, who was very impressive in True Grit plays Petra Arkanian, Ender’s friend in Battle School.  She helps train him in the zero-G laser tag area, and he keeps her on his squad moving forward.  She’s good, but doesn’t have much to do.

  • Abigail Breslin  plays the “too-emotional-for-battle-school” Valentine Wiggin, who Ender is very close to, and continues to try to email while at school.  She seems to be the one who keeps him emotionally stable, or tries to.

  • Ben Kingsley expands his resume to include another ethnicity as he plays the half-Maori  Mazer Rackham.  He’s the legendary commander that all the children have learned about and hope to emulate.  He’s all business, and carries off the accent pretty plausibly.  But hey, he’s Sir Ben Kingsley, of course he’s going to be good.

  • Viola Davis plays the “too-emotionally attached to the children” Major Anderson who continually argues with Colonel Graff about the practices they are using on these children.  Really, that discussion was interesting, and I was curious to see more, but I think that is one of those things that is more detailed in the book.

  • Ender’s squad of battle-ready kids are all played by pretty established kid actors including Aramis Knight (Bean), Suraj Partha (Alai), Khylin Rhambo (Dink) and Moises Arias (as the one Ender basically kills, Bonzo).  They are all very capable, and very multi-ethnic, which I enjoyed – and I am curious if that was part of the book too?  Also - I bet the different squads, symbols, and names are further developed in the book as well...maybe I should read it.  

  • English actor Nonso Anozie plays Sergeant Dap and previously worked with Asa Butterfield in Nanny McPhee Returns.  He’s also been in RocknRolla, New Conan, The Grey, Game of Thrones, and most recently on TV in the new Dracula.  He’s very big and very intimidating, bossing around Ender and his group, telling Ender that he will never salute Ender – until, of course, what seemed to be almost the next scene when Ender was promoted, and Dap saluted him.  That happened too quick so all the emotional connection to it was lost.  In any case, this dude is awesome - but check out Dracula to see him.  Or go back and re-watch Game of Thrones to see the mother of dragons lock him in his own empty vault. 

Spoiler alert here – I’m about to discuss the end.  The whole time Ender and his gang of kid-strategists have been battling the Formics in these simulations.  The upper level guys tell Ender he has one more simulation to ‘graduate’.  He takes his squad, and attacks the Formic home planet, completely destroying it, and the Formic race.  But then the simulation continues to run and the children are forced to watch the planet (and race) die.  At this point Ender realizes it was real – that he really did just commit genocide.  He runs off, completely broken – then realizes that a Formic queen has been hiding on the planet they are based on, and communicating with him telepathically (why didn’t she get the message through before he wiped out her race?).  He goes to see her, she wipes away one of his tears (I did love that moment), gives him a Formic queen egg, and he takes off through the galaxy, looking for a safe home for them.  So I suppose, the last minute or two of this movie is hopeful, after they spent two hours turning this smart little kid into a brutal genocidal maniac.  That is probably the point, to discuss the morals of war – but you know what?  That’s actually not why I go to the movies, I’d rather be entertained, not bummed out.

5 out of 10.  It's well-acted, well-directed, and overall really well put together. It's just not my cup of tea.  It didn’t make me want to pick up the book again, but maybe look into the graphic novel/comic book version?  This movie is what would happen if you took Starship Troopers, but reduced the age of the main cast by half, replaced Michael Ironside with Harrison Ford, took out all but one of the action sequences, and removed all the sense of fun and adventure.  Gained points for the Formic design, when you finally get to see a Formic – she was stunning.  Lost points for the  constant gloom.  I mean seriously, there is no fun in this movie.  I think the only time Ender smiles is during laser tag, when he’s blasting the hell out of the other kids.  Oh, and when he’s watching Harrison Ford float horizontally, but that kinda cracked me up too – there’s always functioning gravity on the Millenium Falcon.
Bonus Video 1:  Starship Troopers – yep, just go watch this instead.

Bonus Video 2:  The Fugitive – the best Harrison Ford movie that does not have the words Indiana and/or Star Wars in the title.

Bonus Video 3:  The 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Ender's Game Panel