Movie Reviews

Thor, Ender's Game, Gravity, About Time

By Kersley Fitzgerald

JT was at a Boy Scouts campout this weekend, so Dev and I took the opportunity to see some movies we'd missed out on. Four movies in three days. Good thing I don't like popcorn.

Ender's Game

We started with Ender's Game on Friday night. I've been a fan of the story for probably thirty years. I was interested to see how it would work out on screen.

I was relieved to find it followed the original 1977 novella and not the 1985 novel. In fact, it followed it fairly closely, allowing for cinematic needs. Still, there were significant differences: Ender remains around 14 throughout the entire film instead of aging several years. Harrison Ford's Col. Graff was a little nicer than I remember in the book. Most of the super-trippy video mind game was skipped. And the entire thing with Ender's brother Peter using his sister Valentine to take over the planet was thankfully left out. I understand why they altered the ending, but I don't really approve. Suffice it to say, Valentine went with Ender.

Ender's Game is the original Hunger Games. It's about sacrificing children for the good of all. It also gets into the ethics of drone warfare—rather presciently. And it contemplates the philosophy of shoot first, talk later.

Ender's Game is not as intense or bloody as the Hunger Games movie, so in that regard younger kids (12-13) could watch it—even before they read it. The question is, should they? Not because of the action (and there's next to no language), but because they could very well miss the point. It's an anti-war movie, not a fantasy action flick. I think JT, at least, will need more maturity before he can grasp what's going on.


Saturday started with Gravity, to which Dev and I had mixed reactions. I was caught up in the non-stop, dizzying action—caught up enough that I could suspend disbelief during the unlikely bits.

Dev used to track satellites and space debris at Cheyenne Mountain. Starting from the first moment that bolt went drifting off, Dev spent the entire movie sighing in despair at all the junk he'd have to build element sets for—despite the fact he hasn't worked at NORAD for over a decade. He didn't so much enjoy the movie.

I thought it was great. There was minimal, appropriate swearing, a few shots of Sandra Bullock floating around in a tank and boy-shorts, and a few shots of what happens to a body when it's exposed to raw space and/or debris traveling several thousand miles an hour. But the character arc was beautifully done, as was the cinematography. I thought George Clooney was great as the experienced space-cowboy. So who cares that there's no way all that could happen just so?

One "thumb up!"—one "Why can't astronauts hold onto their wrenches?!!!"

About Time

To make up for all the sci fi action flicks, we went to About Time next. It's about a guy who finds out the men in his family can travel back through their own timeline and then forward to the point of departure again. It stars Bill from the Harry Potter movies, Irene Adler from Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes*, Katherine from Under the Tuscan Sun, and Bill Nighy, who's awesome in everything.

About Time was fine. The first part was filled with embarrassing situations, which I tend to cringe at, but then it got really sweet. Dev came out of it saying, "So was it a love story between the guy and the girl? A love story between a boy and his dad? Or a love story between family?" To which I replied, "Stop analyzing it."

There were some racy bits (who on earth jumps into bed that quickly?) and some swearing, but nothing like Love Actually. It's kind of The Time Traveler's Wife** with a happier ending.


After we picked up, fed, and bathed JT, we rounded out the weekend with Thor: The Dark World. Frankly, I thought the first Thor movie was kinda boring and the character didn't have a personality. The sequel was much better and much funnier. Although I'm in the market for some eye bleach after watching Stellan Skarsgard dance around Stonehenge naked. We were glad to see Kat Dennings get more lines, because she's adorable.

You may recall that the only part of Star Trek Into Darkness that bothered JT was when Kahn squeezed heads. In this movie, I thought he'd be scared by the dark elves' masks. Nope—it was the implosion grenades. He didn't like how all the body parts twisted about and then shrank into a singularity. Other than that, he was fine.

The plot was a bit disjointed, but no more so than that of The Avengers. Thor was muscly, Loki was charmingly conniving, Jane was much less mindlessly enamored, and I still can't get over the fact Fandral was Zachary Levi.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

A couple of weeks ago, JT dragged us to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. It had an interesting take on corporations that act like cults, and the taco-dile supreme was funny. But, seriously, I lost IQ points. JT loved it, as 12-year old boys will do. I don't know if I'll ever recover.

Still awaiting Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Saving Mr. Banks looks interesting, too. And, of course, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. What movies are you looking forward to?

* No, I've never seen The Notebook, and I don't intend to.
** Which Rachel McAdams was also in.

Photo credit: Kersley Fitzgerald

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Published 11-11-13