Tag Archives: asa butterfield

Quickie: Ender’s Game

In 2086, aliens known as Formics attacked Earth but were halted by the heroic Mazer Rackham. Fearing the Formics will return, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) of the International Fleet recruits some of the most gifted young people in the world to guard against an attack. One of these young people is the incredibly gifted Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield).

Over the past few years, young adult fiction has become a genre of its own, and Ender’s Game is the latest film to fall under that category (although the book was written in 1985). However, it never has enough excitement or substance to match most of its peers.

The main problem with Ender’s Game is that it tries to cram far, far too much into its two hour run time and, as such, spreads itself far too thin. Ender’s time being trained on the space station takes up the majority of the story but then throws in a rushed climax and frankly bizarre denouement that feels like it belongs in a different film. Throw in some scarcely explored family issues and a flimsy romance and the whole thing feels rushed and hastily cobbled together. There’s enough story to spread over two films but is barely interesting enough to fill one.

There’s a really quite dark undertone to the film, which is interesting but it still feels rather lightweight. Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford do a decent enough job in their respective roles but never set the screen on fire.

This is the first time science fiction has had the ‘young adult’ treatment on screen on this scale but it’s not one that will live long in the memory. There was potential here, but it’s ultimately wasted.

2 pigeons

2/5 pigeons

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Quickie: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

When his father, a World War II SS officer, is promoted to oversee the events at Auschwitz, 8 year old Bruno befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy on the other side of the concentration camp fence.

Shmuel and Bruno

Based on the 2006 John Boyne novel of the same name, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas deals with a subject that has been covered in films countless times, The Holocaust, but does so from a different angle. This is a child’s perspective, and a German child at that. Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is completely oblivious to the horror going on around him, perhaps symbolic of many Germans during the war. Through a child’s innocence, the terrors of Auschwitz seem even greater; each and every detail seeming that more grotesque leading up to the frankly chilling climax.

However, a major downfall of the film is the fact that it’s in English. The filmmakers may have had good reason to make it in English, but it’s a film that is desperate to be made in the characters’ mother tongue. The English accents of the German characters make it doubly confusing when you consider it’s the British that the Germans are fighting against. It detracts from the story somewhat and may confuse slightly younger viewers.

Once you’re over that hurdle, there’s an interesting story but one that suffers from a slightly poor script, particularly in regards to Bruno and Shmuel’s relationship. Considering that’s the crux of the story, there isn’t much progression in their friendship over the shortish runtime, which could have given so much more. Despite that, it’s an interesting take on a WWII story; as viewers with historical knowledge of the situation, we always know more than Bruno, which turns out to be both a blessing and a tragedy.

Words: Chris Thomson

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