Wednesday, 9 October 2013


A new sci-fi epic previewed in London: ENDER'S GAME. Images: Ian Trussler.

The night of October 7th saw London's ODEON Leicester Square cinema play host to a reasonably successful press/audience publicity launch for the upcoming star-packed/CGI action-enhanced space epic ENDER'S GAME, based on the now classic sci-fi novels by Orson Scott Card, out in UK cinemas from October 25th. STAR WARS AFICIONADO was invited by EONE/MOMENTUM pictures to attend the event, which proved an enjoyable if all-too brief affair.

▶ ENDER'S GAME -- Trailer - YouTube

Introduced by an always enthusiastic, head-about-to-explode Craig Stevens, the chance of seeing any kind of lengthy showreel for the film was sadly not to be- instead, we saw a couple of incredibly short clips and a third trailer that's actually been online for a while now. The much vaunted "prop display" proved equally disappointing- just a couple of yellow space costumes, and not so much as a freebie poster or art card for the assembled fans!

Sir Ben Kinglsey, Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld and Gavin Hood on stage.
Thankfully, it was the on and off screen "talent" we were all ultimately coming to see, and the event certainly produced an impressive line-up to talk about the film in some prearranged, and safe, questions. Writer Bob Orci and producer Gigi Pritzker (talking about why it took so long for the book series to reach cinema screens -namely due to the visual ambitions and the need to have the kind of accessible CGI technology), Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld (the former talking about working with a legend like Harrison Ford, whom he had known through STAR WARS and INDY, and alongside the latter discussing their zero-g space walk scenes- the fun and difficulties of achieving them), Oscar-winner Sir Ben Kingsley concisely talking about how he "became" the part of the warrior trainer, Mazer Rackham, primarily via his make-up period- originally taking two hours then down to one hour ten as shooting progressed, giving him time to concentrate and meditate/breathe himself into the role, plus how he and Ford, playing the stern adult characters, had to keep their performances at an emotional distance from the younger actors at certain points, and time it right so that when they do share emotional moments with them it would have dramatic and personal resonance. Ford also briefly discussed the evolving state of special effects since the "horse-drawn" days of the original trail-blazing work of STAR WARS, as well as stating how bright a star young Asa will be! Finally, an enthusiastic and professional Gavin Hood, the films adaptor and director, talked about the way they had to make some changes to the story in order to make it work cinematically (i.e., they couldn't have the lead character of Ender as a seven to eight year old- it just didn't work in the screen testing), how the film had a solid budget from European backers rather than the big Hollywood studios (too over-awed by the possible production costs!), its enticing visual richness (which, along with his enthusiasm, ultimately convinced Kingsley to do the project), plus his critical desire to do a sci-fi action film that could genuinely appeal to all audiences with a story where character and plot gelled well with the special effects, and that the latter didn't take overtake the former. (Good luck with that, Gavin- a tall order for many modern sci-fi films these days!)

Harrison Ford- back on the big screen!
Everyone in the audience was generally primed to see the film but above all else this was a chance for many to finally see and hear Harrison Ford at a UK event. And, though he wasn't asked as many questions as I'd hoped he would, proved he was that charismatic, concentrated but gesticulating self, with that wry, possibly cynical, world-weary Han Solo smile, that we all know and love...

Bob Orci and Gigi Pritzker with the departing cast.
At the end, cast and crew got some friendly cheers and applause from the crowd, with one cheeky audience member even getting to shake Mister Ford's hand (which the actor had a laugh about), though one trying his luck autograph hunter, more than likely a nuisance dealer rather than an actual genuine fan, was politely refused a signature- quite right too! As the actors departed, and the audience was finally allowed to leave the cinema, an enjoyable night closed-let's hope the finished film lives up to so many fans expectations, whilst also giving us some worthy Harrison Ford on-screen heroism!

With thanks to SUBSTANCE for the press invite.

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