Asa Butterfield

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By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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review enders game

It’s been fifty years since aliens attacked Earth, killing thousands before a lucky strike brought the invading mothership crashing to the ground. The time since has been spent building up a military capable of fighting back in case the intruders ever choose to return. It’s not soldiers they’re after, though. The military brass are searching for a leader, a strategist capable of beating the alien swarms faster and harder than the space bugs can beat mankind. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) thinks he’s found that great mind in Ender Wiggen (Asa Butterfield), a young boy whose two elder siblings have both failed out of the academy — a brother for being too aggressive and a sister for being too empathetic. Graff suspects Ender might be the “just right” in the Goldilocks analogy he probably makes offscreen. Young Ender is whisked up to an orbiting battle school to commence with the training that just might save humanity, but his biggest battle will be within himself. Dun dun dun! Ender’s Game, based on the bestselling novel by Orson Scott Card, is a sci-fi action film that manages to best most YA adaptations at their own game. Card’s book was published before the YA designation came into fashion, but it has all the hallmarks including a teenage protagonist with social issues who just so happens to be the super special chosen one destined to save the world. A strong lead performance and some exciting action sequences follow, but they’re brought down by narrative lapses, […]

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Ender

If you can cram in 3,000 man hours into the next week, you can have your very own home version in time for Ender’s Game to see theaters on November 1st. To be fair, this featurette is more entertaining than informative, but it has a few layering shots that spotlight the intense process that went into building the world that Ender and friends do battle in. Digital Domain took the lead here, but the movie also features effects work from companies like Behold 3D (Riddick), Quantum Creation FX (Tron: Legacy) for specialty costuming and XYZ-RGB (Elysium) for 3D scanning. No word yet on whether they were able to digitally insert a smile onto Harrison Ford’s face.

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Ender

Unadaptable. It’s a scary word for filmmakers with a passion project, and an even scarier word for major studios with their eyes locked on the bottom line. With the trend in Hollywood ever leaning toward the edict of brand recognition, a great many books (mostly the ones filled with panels, capes, and conversation bubbles) are being translated for the big screen. And why not? If the audience is built-in, and the production demands aren’t too unreasonable, it would seem like a slam dunk. Yet there are written works that, for one reason or another, studios feel aren’t viable. These become earmarked as unadaptable, typically from a purely financial standpoint; shackled by the cost of logistics. Then there are occasions in which the content or themes of a written piece are deemed too edgy or risky for a studio to want to touch. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” has the rare and unfortunate distinction of facing both hurdles. It’s the story of a young boy ripped from his home and trained by the military to kill an alien species in spectacular zero gravity simulators. These hurdles proved to be insurmountable for many major studios, which explains the project’s long gestation. But as we all know, limitations have a habit of becoming the footnotes of monumental achievement. The obvious science-fiction-to-actual-science parallel comes to mind. At one time it seemed impossible that people could communicate via a wire with folks across the country, then across the planet. For generations, the idea of actually […]

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Ford Enders Game

Listen, kids, you thought middle school was rough. You didn’t have Harrison Ford plucking you out of obscurity to yell at you every day about saving the human race from alien destruction. Luckily, the rest of us just get to watch it happen in the adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s beloved Ender’s Game this fall. In the second trailer for the epic space tale, directed by Gavin Hood, just a teensy tiny bit more of the plot is revealed than from the first glimpse. Here’s what we know: decades after a brutal alien war, Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis are training child super-soldiers like Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld to do battle once more. But their last hope comes in the form of an exceptionally gifted boy named Ender (Asa Butterfield), who will lead them to victory with his prowess.

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Orson Scott Card

Just last week, the trailer for The Boxtrolls spoke of gay marriage with kindness, simplicity, and acceptance. Now author Orson Scott Card has done the opposite. The online group Geeks Out recently called for a boycott of the upcoming Card adaptation Ender’s Game, urging viewers to stay away from the film. The group believes that anyone who thinks anti-homosexuality laws should be strictly enforced (as Card does) should not be allowed the opportunity to make tons of money from a blockbuster film starring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Card responds to the boycott and to anyone else questioning whether his views are a part of Ender’s Game: “Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

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trailer enders game

2013 is set to be a solid year for science fiction films, and one of the more anticipated releases is the big-screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card‘s bestselling and beloved Ender’s Game. The story follows a young cadet (Asa Butterfield) training in the art of warfare as mankind’s last ditch effort to stave off an alien invasion. It seems the insectoid-like Buggers (?) are able to anticipate our typical defense efforts and sending teenagers into battle catches them off guard. There’s probably more to it than that, but that’s really all I could glean from this first trailer. Check it out below.

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Gavin Hood’s upcoming adaptation of the legendary Orson Scott Card (is it too new to be legendary? It’s at least flirting with legendary) sci-fi novel Ender’s Game just signed a new name to its cast, one who’s already pretty legendary in the sci-fi world himself: Han Solo. Harrison Ford joins a cast that already has Hugo’s Asa Butterfield starring in the lead role of military recruit and Earth’s last hope Ender Wiggin, and youthful Oscar nominees like Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin playing supporting roles; so it’s starting to look like Hood’s sci-fi epic pitting man against bugger is going to have quite the ensemble when it finally gets put in front of cameras. I know that everyone was a little upset when the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was hired to direct such a beloved novel, but I don’t think there’s any way we can complain about this cast. Ford is set to play the role of Colonel Hyrum Graff, the man responsible for training the recruits at the military school Ender attends. He’s a manipulative man who’s plan is to control Ender’s development from small boy into the perfect military commander through secretive and mysterious means. In this world, the human race is at the brink of extermination due to war with a race of alien beings, and it has been decreed that Ender is the only recruit with the potential to bring them back from defeat with his brilliance. I think Ford will be suitably grizzled to […]

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This year has brought us back to classic filmmaking from the silent film era with The Artist to the fantasy adventure Hugo, which recalled classic film moments (as The Film Stage rounded up here). The New York Times has even gotten in on the classical score action, drawing on booming horns and frenetic strings to help create horror and unease in their portraits of various actors’ impressions of classic film villains. It is an almost surprising turn in a year that awarded Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s electronic influenced score for The Social Network the Oscar for Original Score and saw electronic duos The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx creating the scores for Hanna and Attack the Block, respectively. Film scoring seemed to be going the way of the electric guitar, swapping out full orchestrations for synthesizers, but as 2011 comes to a close, it seems classic orchestration is not on its way out just yet. Full orchestrations of horns, drums, strings, and wind instruments filled theaters in films like The Artist and Hugo, taking us back to a time when live orchestras would play along with films. Their electronic counterparts tend to turn up the volume (who wasn’t rattled when Reznor and Karen O’s booming “Immigrant Song” in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s teaser trailer came on screen?) while classical scores are able to gain that same power from the sheer number of instruments called upon and layered together. Both work to draw an emotional reaction out of […]

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For those not in the know, “Ender’s Game” is a 1985 science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card that has, over the last few decades, grown pretty mightily in acclaim. Despite not being all that old, science fiction fans often rank it right up there with the classics of the genre. So it’s kind of weird that it’s taken so long to get a film version off the ground. Nevertheless, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood set to helm and Hugo’s Asa Butterfield set to star, it’s finally here. And now that the tough picks are out of the way, it’s time to start filling out the rest of the cast. The bulk of this novel concerns its gifted young protagonist Ender and his experiences attending a government school for elite soldiers. You see, we’re in an intergalactic war with a relentless species of aliens that we call Buggers, and it’s getting down to the wire when it comes to the existence of the human race. The fate of our species is resting pretty firmly on the shoulders of young Ender (Butterfield), but how is he supposed to grow up as the ultimate military commander when he can barely even make it through basic things like anti-gravity training, learning to shoot, and dealing with school bullies? One way is by becoming friends with Petra Arkanian, a tough young girl who takes Ender under her wing and drags him through those first through semesters of warrior school kicking and screaming. […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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It’s hard to overstate just how amazing it is to consider a big-budget, major studio-produced 3D family adventure centered on Georges Méliès. Before now, the work of the early cinematic innovator, whose movies (most famously 1903’s A Trip to the Moon) revolutionized and advanced special effects, has been relegated to film history texts and brief snippets of televised specials. If there’s one filmmaker to make Méliès matter again, to introduce him to a mass audience, it’s Martin Scorsese. After all, the Oscar-winning legend is not just one of the foremost cinematic masters, as a noted film preservationist, he’s among the chief protectors of the long, glorious and frequently threatened legacy of the motion picture. In Hugo, Scorsese transforms the trappings of a 3D holiday picture into a loving tribute to Méliès and the earliest masters of the cinematic dream factory. From the structure of its narrative, to the details of its plot, and the industrialized nature of its majestic visuals, this is a film infused with the joy and wonder of movies. Set amid the glittering magic of Paris in the early 1930s, the film follows 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who secretly lives in a train station. Hugo, who winds the station’s clocks, dwells inside a labyrinthine interior comprised of enormous grinding gears, rising steam currents, and other elaborate metallic concoctions. Among the latter is a non-functioning automaton brought home by Hugo’s late father (Jude Law), which the young man works on incessantly in the hope that he can bring […]

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It’s likely going to be a very happy holiday season for the Butterfield family, as rising star Asa Butterfield is already lining up his next big starring role even before his biggest project hits screens. Butterfield leads Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo this Thanksgiving in the title role, based on Brian Selznick‘s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” and it looks like the young star is next jumping to another massively anticipated adaptation. With Hugo already pulling in positive reviews (particularly from dyed-in-the-wool cinephiles), it’s no surprise that the young star is already book further heavy-hitting roles. Deadline Bondville reports that Butterfield has been offered yet another titular role in a book-to-film adaptation, that of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin in Gavin Hood‘s upcoming big screen Ender’s Game, his take on Orson Scott Card‘s sci-fi classic. Card’s character first appeared in a short story in 1977, which went on to spawn the 1985 book (which this film is based on), along with a continued series that now consists of eleven books (with at least two more planned). Can we say “sequels”? Ender’s Game already has a March 15, 2013 release date set, so Summit Entertainment is not resting on their laurels with their potential next-big-thing franchise.

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It’s fascinating that the director of Taxi Driver is the man who put this together. Martin Scorsese once again shows his versatility by tackling Hugo, an adaptation of the popular children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Interestingly, it look like he’s channeling Chris Columbus here with a healthy dose of Lemony Snicket. Yes, it looks fun and silly, but this trailer makes it look a bit too childish (and features far, far too much of Sacha Baron Cohen falling down and smashing into things Kevin James-style).

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When I thought more and more about it, I realized that Scorsese is one director that doesn’t need 3D to add depth to his visuals.

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