Starring: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Written By: Gavin Hood
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 54 min
Ender’s Game is a strange film in that it doesn’t communicate any sense of drama around the pending alien attack that Ender (Asa Butterfield) is recruited and trained to stop. The first alien attack and catalyst for the story, felt more like a computer game replay than something we should care about. We see aliens and humans fighting an intense aerial battle, and we’re told the human race was nearly destroyed. But we’re never shown much evidence of that. In fact when we are down on earth, there’s little sign there was ever a war for Earth. I know this story takes place several years after that first attack, but a bit more time properly describing the conflict and aftermath would have given the film a better foundation to build on. But this I feel is the main failing of Ender’s Game. The introduction to the main characters and situation is glossed over so quickly, it’s hard to get a solid grasp of the world this story is set in.
What follows is a little more interesting as the young cadets enter training, and Ender’s tactical genius pushes him through the ranks. Leading to more and more increasingly intense simulations as they prepare to take the fight to the aliens home world. It’s interesting in that the games do not end with the simulations or the zero gravity training room. Ender’s ability to understand and ultimately defeat his enemies is also tested as he confronts varying levels of authority at school on Earth, and then during training in space. Asa Butterfield does a great job in the lead role, and is ably supported by Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld and Viola Davis. The visual effects are first-rate, and the score by Steve Jablonsky is excellent.
Ender’s Game isn’t an entity in its own right, but more of a two-hour preview of the book. I haven’t read the book, but the film has certainly presented enough intriguing ideas that I plan to explore when I add the novel to my reading list.
While the trailer may have reminded you of movies like Independence Day. Ender’s Game isn’t your run of the mill alien invasion film. There’s a little more going on here so you’ll need to pay attention to the central character Ender, and watch how he manipulates the situations he’s confronted with. The film is also timely in that it questions how wars are fought and won with remotely controlled technology.
Best viewing format:
This is a big effects movie but very light on big crowd pleasing moments, so a digital matinée showing is recommended. At home a HD showing is a must.
Best element for me:
Asa Butterfield’s performance really carries the film.