By Dennis Tkach. Welcome to the Movie Den! Conventional movie ratings are generally listed as a number of stars out of five that critics in their infinite wisdom choose to bestow upon a film.
I am commencing a new rating system, where in my judgment, I will award a movie with a number of pyrogies out of ten. (Ten being a wonderfully filling meal) (For the Hunky illiterate pyrogies are also known as a Ukrainian’s version of Smarties.)
If a movie I review ever reaches the dizzying heights of a Lawrence of Arabia or a Citizen Cane, I will also include sour cream, fried onions and real bacon bits.
Good or bad, I would crawl through a field of feral wolverines to see any movie starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Not for their acting skills (which, if they do exist, would have to be measured in nano bytes). No, I go for the sheer pleasure of seeing their raw, singularly amazing personae on the larger-than-life screen. In truth these iconic men ARE larger than real life, both in deeds and by nature. Sly and Arnie are worthy inheritors of the mantle of John Wayne. (Supernova star power coupled with noontzy acting skills.)
I found the dialogue, unlike most of Arnie’s movies, to be witty rather than cornball. Not that cornball is bad, lines like “I’ll be back” or “stick around” will forever echo down the hallowed corridors of digital eternity.
Prison break movies will always be with us. The trick for a producer is to find and endorse a storyline that is either fresh, or has more twists in the plotline than Chubby has Checkers. In that sense, Prison Break, for me, scored well.
Before leaving my comments on this worthy film, I would like to add some thoughts on what one of my fellow critics had to say. I do not know who Julie Miller (reviewer for Vanity Fair) is but she is obviously NOT a fan of Arnie or Sly. I read her review in absolute amazement because she reviewed and bombed the TRAILER of the movies and not the film itself. Imagine, judging a movie by its cover and not its contents!
She calls the plot ‘hair-brained’. A plotline that has given us brilliant movies like Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Papillon’ and Clint Eastwood’s “Escape From Alcatraz”? Ms. Miller asks us to suspend belief because of her nit-picking list on inanities. Isn’t that what movies are supposed to do? Suspend reality in exchange for flights of escapism and fantasy. We know, for example that in any ‘movie’ fight, in a bazillion plus movies, when the hero or villain get stomped, hammered, kicked in the head or ribs, only to get up and show little in the way of bruises or blood, I repeat, WE KNOW we are witnessing exactly the opposite of reality. Do we care, ‘shout fake’ and rush to get our money back from the box office? No, we do not. We are being ENTERTAINED! We love the suspension of reality! That is why we go to the movies. For a couple of precious hours we are able to leave the heavy burdens of our lives outside the darkened theatre and find respite and escape.
Enough said: Julie Miller of Vanity Fair gets my empty pyrogi plate award… broken over her head.
If you are not a fan of science fiction, do not waste your time to see this movie. If you ARE a fan of sci-fi it would behoove you to see Ender’s Game.
I grew up addicted to science fiction stories. From the time I was twelve and through all my teen-age years I read and collected all of the top authors of my day. When in my early twenties, I left home, I had a library of nearly a thousand novels lining the shelves of my bedroom, most of them read and some of them read more than once. Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Assimov, Phillip K. Dick, led my list of my most admired people on the face of the planet.
As I grew into viral manhood :0) I lost interest in sci-fi literature, exchanging my taste for planetary invasions with good old fashion murder mysteries. And there I have stayed. Except for the movies.
I will never tire of seeing good science fiction movies as I will ever be saddened by disappointing mediocre or outright bad sci-fi flicks (such as Prometheus) For this reason, in reviewing Ender’s Game, I give the full screen $110 million dollar treatment of Orson Scott Card’s international best selling novel 8 pyrogies out of 10.
I have never read any of Card’s extensive library of notable and highly regarded science fiction (since he came AFTER my shift in interest from Robbie the Robot to Sherlock Holmes) but I have always been aware of his popularity, particularly among juvenile readers (as, alas, somewhere beyond the distant veils of time I too, was one.) Card held my interest for another reason.
Living in, and Alberta born and bred, Orson Scott Card is an active Mormon and a literal descendant of Charles Ora Card, one of the first pioneer leaders to settle in 1887 in what was to become the province of Alberta. The small farming town of Cardston, home of Canada’s first LDS temple bears his name. Being a Mormon myself I have always admired those of our faith who have become singularly successful in their particular fields of endeavor. But now, back to the movie and the ‘why’ for my high rating.
It is a family movie, about a young boy named Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin and how the future of war, computer games, and green screen animation evolves. Because of the game aspect this film should be a winner amongst all oversized thumb developed gamesters of any age. Special effects, as expected in any high cost film, take a large part of most of today’s movie budgets and in the case of Ender’s Game, the results are neither cheesy nor disappointing.
It was good seeing an aging, curmudgeon of an actor such as Harrison Ford trade his Han Solo role for of crusty Colonel Graff, young Ender’s commander and mentor. I also enjoyed Ben Kingsley as the Maori tattooed veteran fighter pilot Mazer Rackham. What a gifted actor! Never type cast to one or two roles, Kingsley has come a long way from his brilliant starring role in Ghandi.
The movie is well directed, well paced, and the symphonic music provides a perfect enhancement to the grand on screen images, which of course, was the intent of all involved in the film’s production.
My final comments on Ender’s Game should perhaps be the most important thoughts on this unusual cinematic work. I refer to the young actors who flesh out the principal roles and interactions of the story.
I am always amazed at the gifted acting abilities and the training that goes into producing such fascinating and well cast young people as Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Aramis Knight. Like the initially bubblegum cast of Harry Potter, these kids have a wonderful future ahead of them.
So there you have it; a review on two of today’s current crop of what’s playing at the movies. I recommend both and if you agree, have a big plate of pyrogies on me.
Dennis Tkach is a Chilliwack resident, currently residing in Fort McMurray, who is well-traveled and has a long history in the entertainment business. A music aficionado, a voracious reader and world traveler, his columns can be found on all three Today Media Group community websites regularly.
If you have something you think Dennis should write about send him an email at: Dennis@TodayMedia.ca