FILM: ENDER’S GAME
CAST: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, Nonso Anozie, Stevie Ray Dillmore, Andrea Powell, Moises Arias, Conor Carroll, Aramis Knight, Brendan Meyer
DIRECTOR: Gavin Hood
After surviving a devastating attack by the insect-like Formics, the people of Earth have spent years readying themselves for a repeat attack by nurturing a new generation of child geniuses to be trained as warriors. The planet’s best and brightest youngsters are selected to attend Battle School, an orbiting space station where they compete for a chance to become a commander of the International Forces. Using advanced computer simulations and rigorous game-like exercises, they train in an atmosphere of violence and intense competition, knowing that only one will be selected to lead.
Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is exceptional, even among his extraordinary classmates. His unique combination of intelligence, empathy, and strategic brilliance makes him a standout in the classroom and in the Battle Room — a zero-gravity playground where games of futuristic laser tag test the trainees’ strategic and physical abilities. But Ender’s singular gifts inspire envy in his fellow recruits, and the school’s commander, Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), deliberately alienates Ender from the other children in order to hone his individual leadership skills.
An outsider at first, Ender, with his preternatural understanding of human nature gradually builds a coalition among his peers, and is soon promoted to command school — located on a distant planet once used by the Formics as a forward staging post for their invasion of Earth. Under the severe tutelage of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), the brilliant general who defeated the Formics years earlier, Ender is rapidly promoted to lead his fellow students in simulated war games against enemy forces.
Certain that another attack by the Formics is imminent, Graff and Rackham believe they have only weeks to ready Ender to lead the International Fleet in a battle for planetary survival. But as the boy prepares to face his final test, he develops gnawing doubts about the monumental task that lies ahead. Is this the best strategy for achieving peace?
Orson Scott Card’s acclaimed futuristic novel ‘Ender’s Game’ debuted in 1985 and became an instant classic, earning the coveted Hugo and Nebula Awards, as well as the devotion of millions of fans worldwide. A startlingly original adventure as well as a poignant and inspiring coming-of-age story, ‘Ender’s Game’s’ prescient view of future technology and insights into human nature have made it a perennial favourite with adults and children for almost 30 years. It has been translated into 28 languages.
The novel’s immense popularity and vivid imagery made a film adaptation seem inevitable, but creating Card’s gorgeously imagined future and intricately plotted storyline would take an exceptionally determined and talented team of filmmakers.
The producing team spent a year interviewing writers to adapt Card’s novel for the screen before selecting South African Gavin Hood, who would also direct the movie. Hood’s unique résumé includes films that range from the intimate ‘Tsotsi’, the 2005 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, to epic blockbusters including ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’.
“Gavin had worked on small, independent films in South Africa that had great personal meaning,” says producer Gigi Pritzker. “But he had done big studio special-effects films, as well. He could handle both sides of the equation. In addition, he’d been in the military in South Africa as a young man and that brought an understanding of the hierarchy of power in that environment, giving the story a real layer of depth that we might not have gotten with a different writer.”
At its heart, ‘Ender’s Game’ is a true hero’s journey, according to the screenwriter and director. “A young man leaves the safety of his home to embark on an incredible adventure. He meets various characters who influence him one way or the other, both adults and other children. In some ways, it’s very much like Tsotsi in that it follows one particular character’s journey and growth closely,” says Hood.
“On the other hand, it’s quite spectacular visually, so my experience on big visual-effects and action movies was very helpful in achieving environments like the zero-gravity scenes. I hope that ‘Ender’s Game’ brings the best of both worlds together.”
FILM: FREE BIRDS
VOICE CAST: OWEN WILSON, WOODY HARRELSON, AMY POEHLER, GEORGE TAKEI, COLM MEANEY, KEITH DAVID, DAN FOGLER, JIMMY HAYWARD, KAITLYN MAHER
DIRECTOR: JIMMY HAYWARD
On a quaint, American family-owned farm, a giant turkey flock lives a quiet, complacent, corn-stuffed life. All everyone cares about is feeding time and grazing in the sun with the Farmer, who they swear will bring them to “Turkey Paradise.” Everyone, that is, except for Reggie (Owen Wilson), a whip-smart turkey whose bad-mouthing of the Farmer and disinterest in the mundane, overfed turkey existence makes him an outcast among his flock.
Reggie’s life is changed forever when an unexpected visit from the President of the United States lands him the esteemed honor of “Pardoned Turkey.” This means living the plush life at Camp David, complete with TV On Demand and cheese pizza. By being pardoned, Reggie has found his own Turkey Paradise – a place where he (and he alone) calls all the shots!
That is until Reggie is plucked from his paradise by Jake (Woody Harrelson), the relentless founder – and only member – of the “Turkey Freedom Front.”
Jake has only one mission: to change history forever and save all of turkey-kind. But he can’t do it alone: a mission like this needs brain and brawn, and that’s why he needs to induct Reggie into his effort. “It’s our destiny!” he proclaims, much to Reggie’s scoffing.
Despite Reggie’s refusal to abandon his life of luxury, Jake kidnaps him, and together they break into a top-secret government lab and hijack a time machine named S.T.E.V.E (George Takei), taking them back to the year 1621, just days before the first Thanksgiving.
FILM: Young and Beautiful
CAST: Marine Vacth, Charlotte Rampling, Frederic Pierrot, Geraldine Pailhas
DIRECTOR: Francois Ozon
The story contained in this hard-hitting, French-language drama revolves around a 17-year-old girl from a well-off family who lives with her kid brother (Fantin Ravat), mother (Geraldine Pailhas) and stepfather (Frederic Pierrot). Like every teenager, Isabelle (Marine Vacth) has secrets that she keeps hidden from her family. But while other teens experiment with cigarettes and drugs, Isabelle takes up prostitution.
Through many twists, the story is divided into four seasons – starting in summer at the family vacation villa, then moving to Paris as Isabelle gradually becomes more entrenched in her dangerous, shrouded new life.
“The film is about what it feels like to be seventeen and experiencing the transformation of one’s body,” says director Francois Ozon.
“Adolescence is often idealized in cinema. For me it was a painful period of complicated transition and I’m not nostalgic about it. I didn’t want to depict adolescence merely as an emotional time but also and above all as a hormonal one.
Our bodies go through intense physiological changes, and yet we feel kind of numb. So we assault our bodies in order to feel, we test our limits physically. The theme of prostitution provides a way to highlight this, to illustrate the questions of identity and sexuality raised by adolescence. Sexuality not yet connected to emotion.”