Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dear Ender's Game Movie: Please Don't Be Twilight



by Apparent Parent (bio)

As a student at BYU back in 2005, I happened to walk through the BYU Bookstore just as Orson Scott Card was beginning a book signing for one of his many inconsequential books. As an author, I have always found Card's work hit and miss. He writes a ton, and seems to only find greatness every once in a while. In fact, some might consider Ender's Game his only memorable book.

Now, I haven't read every Orson Scott Card book, and I don't intend to. Books like this are whyAlso thisAnd this, which is actually Book 3 in the Ender's Game series. It was absolutely unreadable for me. (Spoilers in next sentence.) What started as a strong series about a boy playing a game as training to fight an interplanetary war against an evil species trying to take over the world became nothing but philosophical ponderings about war, race, etc. Talk about devolution.

Anyway, when I saw Card at the bookstore, I had only recently finished reading Ender's Game, which, like many, was my entry to Card's writings. So I was excited to see him. At the time, he talked about the scripting process for the movie, which recently announced for real casting calls after dozens of false starts. Since Ender's Game is a classic, this was exciting news to me and all the other sci-fi/fantasy nerds that surrounded me in the bookstore to hear Card speak before his signing. Card spoke of the difficulty in getting a satisfactory screenplay because of the amount of introspection in the book. This is supposedly why this movie has been in the pipeline for, oh, 3.6 million light years.

Now that the movie has a director, a casting call, and a distributor, it seems things will actually go through. This is six years after Card talked about how close he was to getting the movie made. Six years. Since then, I have graduated from BYU in print journalism, worked in Logan while my wife tried to finish school, had three babies (most would probably attribute this one to my wife), and most recently shattered my kneecap while hiking in the Tetons. That's quite a bit in my life compared to what's happened with the life of the movie. And that only scratches the surface on my end.

Now here's what baffles me about the movie. After all the quality Card sought to obtain by waiting and dragging out preproduction and scripting, he let Summit Entertainment pick up the rights to the movie. I can't say I've hated everything this company's done, e.g. I liked Source Code. What worries me is that this is the company responsible for Twilight. It's the similarities that scare me. Twilight is written by another LDS author, Stephenie Meyer. Twilight involves young people. Twilight is a series with tons of ($)exploitation potential.

The difference is perhaps worse. Twilight made huge amounts of cash because of lovesick teenage girls (and yes, even heartsick adult women) seeing it 17 times to memorize all of Edward's lines directed at Bella.

This. Movie. Was. Horrible.

That does not begin to dent the wall of hatred that rises up in me when discussing Twilight. It is made by a woman who must be disgusted her husband's skin doesn't glow in the sunlight, because she has written filth worthy of trashy romance novel land. To try to understand the fire that caught readers of the series, I actually read the first two novels, Twilight and New Moon. I also watched the first two movies. I could not get suicidal thoughts to leave me alone as I endured these things. They are so gut-wretchingly bad that I actually considered setting fire to myself to avoid finishing them.

I should have just burned the books. It would have been a favor to the people I borrowed them from. My wife forced me to watch the first two movies because she was curious how they adapted the admittedly awful novels about a horde of shirtless teenage boys who fall all over themselves because of a girl who is in no way likable. I probably just described Stephenie Meyer's personally fantasized love life.

While watching the movies, my wife and I, (who need no fantasies for a happy love life) writhed - literally writhed - in agony whenever swooning and cheesy "pledge-my-life" lines occurred. Also, whenever Edward and Bella stared at each other for twenty minutes straight. This was pretty much the entire movie, as you know if you've seen it. And... Kristen Stewart's... breathy... performance... really... made me... gag. Honestly, the girl can't string two words together without a breathy pause because she's that in lust with the stupid vampire. Seriously. If you haven't noticed this, you will next time your girlfriend/wife/future ex makes you sit through this movie. If you took out all her mid-sentence pauses, the movie would have been 45 minutes shorter, thus dialing down the morphine you'd have to take to cover the the pain you had to endure. Now despite my wife's morbid curiosity about the third movie, Eclipse, I have put my foot down saying it will not be watched in my house. She's actually pretty okay with this.

Now back to Ender's Game. What if Summit Entertainment pulls anything like these tricks on a novel I love? What if Ender is now a lovesick nine-year-old puppy chasing after a hateful female anti-bugger cadet by staring at her during long sequences of the movie? It could happen. Hollywood has destroyed many a decent book. What gives me hope is that the source material is oodles better. I mean oodles. Sadly, Twilight was actually pretty spot on in translating the books into movies, including the 24-7 "Oh Edward!" "Oh Bella!" scenes.

I'm glad the Ender's Game movie is finally coming to fruition, I just hope it doesn't look anything like Twilight when it does. Please, Orson Scott Card, make sure they don't turn Ender's Game into Twilight.

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