El Maestro Becomes El Estudiante, Indeed: A Review Of The Trailer For “Ender’s Game”

El Maestro Becomes El Estudiante, Indeed: A Review Of The Trailer For “Ender’s Game”

In which Kate Sweeney and Hilary Kelley discuss the trailer for Ender’s Game.


Kate, I know we’ve been dancing around it for a while, now, but it’s time we did something about this trailer. In fact, I think this movie came out in the theaters, went to DVD, and was even put out on VHS for a limited run. And still we sat here, and still we said nothing.

Well, I’ll shoot first.

What immediately comes to mind when I watch this trailer is, “How did they shrink Benedict Cumberbatch back down to the size of an prepubescent boy?” Because that is actually him, sitting in the pilot seat of that space car. I’m not saying this because Benedict Cumberbache is in every space movie (he is), but because every space movie needs someone with an icy glare, and it just so happens that Benedict Cumberbaugh (from here on known as “BC”) has the icy glare space market cornered. I heard that Harrison Ford was originally cast in the role of young BC, but he wasn’t able to glare without snarling. At some point, there has to be some kind of embargo on how much the “-ar” sound is used when describing one’s facial expressions.


Hilary, I think it is Benedict Cumberbach. We’ve just taken that long to get to this review. Hell, at this point, it could be a young Harrison Ford.

You know what I love? I love me some end-of-the-world. I love the most extreme version possible of fight-or-flight, so whatcha gonna do but challenge that alien to the ultimate dance-off, because this is America you’ve invaded, and that’s how we do it, space scum!

Hey, I have an idea! Let’s show a silent view of Earth with a spaceship hovering over it or something. And hey, guess what, I bet we thought we were safe. I bet we thought the threat was gone. And I have even more money riding on this one: We were wrong.

And then, CGI time! Explosion! Bigger explosion! Crazy-biggest-of-all-explosions! What will we do? There’s nothing we can do. There’s no hope. Hope, and humanity…as we knew it…is gone.

Except. Wait a minute. Young Benedict Cumberbatch, you’re the only one who can stop them! Look at this prophecy or carving in an ancient rock or the way your birthdate aligns with what these crumbling scrolls foretell. Whatever. You! Are! The! One!

Quick, it’s time for a training montage. Here’s your space sword. Here are the controls to the space panel. Here’s how you—Wait, whoa there, tiger. Whatcha doing? Why, you just demonstrated an uncanny degree of finesse with that space sword and that space panel that you wave your arms around in front of to make real things happen in three-dimensional space elsewhere.

I thought I was teaching you, but now I see it, Young BC. What a foolish old man I was, even in my dotage. Don’t even glance at me as I emit a wry little chuckle with a shake of the head at what may very well be our last days here in the universe; who knows? I certainly don’t know, so don’t look to me for wisdom any longer, since I am old and represent all that’s now irrelevant and dead, while you are young and vital and represent all that is of some New world to come. I should have known: Your cold glare said it all, and what it didn’t say was picked up on and said by your icy stare: El maestro becomes el estudiante, indeed.


Kate, did you happen to notice that the preview was approved for “Appropriate Audiences”? I haven’t attempted to be appropriate since I was a critically-awkward 14-year-old living in constant fear of garnering disapproval from everyone I met. You know who else should be afraid of disapproval? Young BC, but, given the aforementioned glare, I would venture to say that he’s from planet “Couldn’t Give Less Of A Fuuuuuuuuuuu,” Population: 1. I hear the terrain is…ahem…icy.

But, for reals. Let’s keep talking about that kid’s eyes, because. Do you think he was born with a tiny snare-drum in the back of his neck, and it’s activated whenever he tilts his head down? That has to be the reason there’s that percussive flourish whenever he opens his lids suddenly. Can you even imagine how useful that would be? Mostly for goofs; I mean, when he was a baby, I bet he scared the shit out of his mother if he woke suddenly when she was checking on him in the middle of the night. SHHNABPP! If I had snare-drum eyelids when I was a dejected 14-year-old, I could have at least been in Band. I would have had a band-posse.

Speaking of sleeping, awkwardness, and posses, how about that Kingsley-Ford powwow at the space-table? This always happens in these kinds of movies: two seasoned military-types speaking to each other in their lowest registers, allowing for ample pauses and reciting their most ominous cliches. Sometimes at night, I listen to a guided sleep meditation to help me relax and drift off, but now I think I’ve been barking up the wrong tree. I need a recording of Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford space-talking me to sleep. I can guarantee you, my eyelids wouldn’t fly open with a bang.


If I were to go to a futuristic plastic surgeon and order some version of the SHNAPPing eyelids, I bet I’d only be able to afford the discount kind that work like the cheap blinds that come pre-installed in all the most depressing rental properties I’ve lived in. Sooner or later, they’d go on the fritz and only one side of one eye would do a proper SHNAPP while the other side would remain half-lowered. Would there be some fix for that equivalent to weighing down the blind pull with a heavy pile of books or planter on the sill? Furthermore, do you think young BC was born with the fancy snappy eyelids, or was it installed in him in the inevitable training/makeover montage that this version of the preview skips over?

Except maybe there is no such montage. Because at 29 seconds in, Harrison Ford intones, in that sweet spacetalk voice of his, “You were bred for this.” Not trained. Bred. You’re creeping me out, Indy. Just what is an “appropriate audience” for a eugenics space attack film?


What if he was talking about actual bread? What if future spacefolk are just super bad at homonyms? What if a percentage of spacechildren are sent to some Rancor (You see that? Full circle!) -type monster for sacrifice–as bread? We are thirty seconds into this thing and already I feel like I need to call DFCS.
Moving along.

So BC goes rogue, right, because he’s all sourdough about being told what to do and implanted with some kind of space-fate that propels him toward his final goal, which–from what I can tell–is to create the title card for the movie in the most destructive manner possible. I mean, what happened to using InDesign? You don’t even have to buy that shit anymore, you can just download a trial and find a key from a bittorrent or a solid friend who doesn’t mind sharing. But no, I suppose using a fleet of spaceships to laser-cut block letters is considered tres-analog in futuretimes.

On that note, Kate, I think it might be time for our own Ender. I bet you can’t guess how this one wraps up.


I don’t want to know.

In theaters November 1.

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