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Ender's Game - Movie Review

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Ender's Game - Movie Review

3 stars

Ender’s Game, the popular 1985 sci-fi novel widely believed unfilmable, finally gets a big screen adaptation some thirty years after it set the teen literature world on fire with its prescient view of future technology and astute insights into human nature. But there’s yet one more obstacle to the story’s long-awaited journey into the hearts and minds of anxious fans.

Author Orson Scott Card’s very public homophobic views have caused the threat of a boycott at the film’s box office even though he signed away all movie rights years ago and won’t be making anything additional on the backend of the film. So, boycott if you must, but just know that your message won’t likely hit its intended target unless a studio willing to take on the risk is also in your sights. Also know that if you decide to honor the picket, you’ll miss a surprisingly entertaining little film that betrays its trailer’s underwhelming portrayal.

Set more than a century in the future, Earth’s inhabitants have survived a devastating attack by insect-like Formics but are now preparing for a follow-up invasion by training a new generation of child geniuses as war commanders. The idea is that young teens and adolescents – using their video-game and role-playing skills – are better equipped for war than their less tech-savvy elders.

Almost certain that other attacks by the formics are imminent, the school’s commander, Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) and Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), a local war hero who nearly single-handedly defeated the Formics in the previous attack, run the kids through training scenarios using video game-like technology to teach them how to wage war against encroaching enemies from outer space.

Hand-picked for “Battle School,” child savant Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is a prodigy in the classroom as well as the battle room – a zero-gravity laser tag-like playground – where trainees hone their physical and tactical skills while Major Anderson (Viola Davis), the psychologist responsible for the mental well-being of the children, has devoted her life to identifying the next great military leader.

Bearing the weight of the world on his young shoulders, Ender eventually gains the trust of the school’s instructors and fellow classmates before being promoted to command school where he develops some troubling doubts about the monumental task that lies ahead. As his preparation for the eventual battle continues, so grows Ender’s struggle with his innate ability to look at both sides of every conflict. Every human is capable of extreme selfishness and selflessness, and Ender wrestles with his place in the middle of that contradiction. Credit screenwriter Gavin Hood – who also directs – with carrying those same universal themes over into the film’s grand fabric. As a result, Ender’s Game is a compelling story that inspires important discussions about leadership, empathy, and the balance between good and evil.

But Ender’s Game isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s far from it. Because the book is written almost entirely from Ender’s point of view, the author tells us, via text, a lot about what Ender is thinking and feeling. So, how to preserve the book’s smarts without resorting to a lot of voiceover? Well, let’s just say it’s left up to the viewer to fill in a lot of blanks. Blanks that sometimes leave gaping holes in both logic and story continuity.

Still though, enough good stuff remains to leave us with an exciting, and even sometimes compelling science fiction story that plays as both thoughtful epic allegory about the cost of war, and pulse-heightening, whiz-bang digital spectacle. A more well-rounded relationship between Ender, his friendsg and enemies, and his superiors is sorely needed - and might even help fill in some of the characters’ missing motivations. But as it is, Butterfield supplies enough emotion and convincing humanity to endear the story to both grown-ups with its its adult-oriented themes, and to their children with wish-fulfilling dreams of going into space.

Ender's Game - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.
Runtime:
114 mins
Director
: Gavin Hood
Writer
: Gavin Hood
Cast:
Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis
Genre
: Sci-fi | Adventure | Action
Tagline:
The future must be won
Memorable Movie Quote: "If we're going to survive, we need a new kind of soldier."
Distributor:
Summit Entertainment
Official Site:
endersgamemovie.com
Release Date: November 1, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: In the near future, a hostile alien race called the Formics have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy but strategically brilliant boy, is recruited to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult challenges and simulations, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.

No details available.

 

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