Release date: November 1, 2013
Written and directed by: Gavin Hood
Official website: endersgamemovie.tumblr.com
Fifty years after an alien race invaded Earth and nearly wiped out humanity, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is our last hope for survival. He’s smart; cunning, and a brutal strategist. The thing is, he’s only a kid, having been raised from birth to be the commander of a fleet destined to travel to a distant alien world and put an end to a war, and ensure it is the last war. In this distant future of 2086, children are believed to be best suited to learn the complex skills that will benefit them in battle.
Ender (Asa Butterfield) rises quickly from Battle School to Command School, proving time and time again that despite his age, he is a fearless competitor. Under the tutelage of Col. Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender must overcome the ghosts of his family’s past failures, to lead a group of misfits and shape them into an army that will be able to save humanity from certain annihilation.
You may remember Asa Butterfield from “Hugo” a couple of years ago. If you don’t, you’ll remember him after this flick. Butterfield commands the screen with an intense and emotional performance as a child forced to grow up before he truly understands what he is getting in to.
Harrison Ford seems like he is ready to ease back into the role of Han Solo, playing a character that very well could be identical to that of that cocky smuggler from a galaxy far, far away. Sir Ben Kingsley, covered in tattoos, playing a character that fits in with one of the film’s many plot twists. Then there is Viola Davis, who is a great actress, but looks lost for most of her screen time. But "Ender's Game" is Butterfield's movie and he goes toe to toe with all of them, and stands his ground.
Considering this movie is pretty much “Star Wars meets Harry Potter”, the film is surprisingly thought provoking, never being afraid to question the morality of the decisions made by Col. Graff and young Ender. Certainly today it is difficult to imagine children today being forced into military servitude, but with the popularity of video war games, it's not exactly out of the realm of possibility.
“Ender’s Game” is not without it’s flaws. Director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) stages some exciting action scenes and gets terrific performances out of his actors, but the film is lacking some much needed humor to break up the heavy handed story. There also seems to be a lot of important background info about Ender and his family that might have helped add some depth to the characters. There are several plot twists, some that work, and others, including the whopper of an ending, that feel a little rushed.
A lot of viewers, especially those who have read Orson Scott Card’s novel, are going to get caught up in the author’s radical political views. The good news is that the hateful and anti-gay politics that are sure to incite boycotts are barely existent within the film. If you know nothing about the author or his opinions, you won’t even notice.
Politics aside, “Ender’s Game” is a good sci-fi action film that just misses being a great film. But as far as blockbusters go, it's exciting, thought provoking, and a lot of fun.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.
Running time: 1 hr 56 min.
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