Ender’s Game

Ender's Game


Ender’s Game is another addition to the long line of space and alien themed movies that have been released this summer. The film boasts of a star cast that few others can, though. With actors such as Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame, this film is one that you cannot afford to miss.


Asa Butterfield
Harrison Ford
Ben Kingsley
Viola Davis
Hailee Steinfeld
Abigail Breslin


Gavin Hood


1st November, 2013


114 minutes


In the science fiction world, there is a special place reserved for Orson Scott Card. His books are, unlike most of his contemporaries, about more than just science fiction. There are philosophical debates and justifications backed by a creative genius. So when I heard that Ender’s Game, a novel that I devoured quite some time ago was being made into a film, I was understandably overjoyed.


The story whilst being fairly novel in 1985, is fairly commonplace now. Asa Butterfield plays an Ender Wiggins, a Chosen One equivalent. The earth was attacked by a race called the Formics which are an insect like alien race. And it is suspected that they plan another attack. The young Wiggins is chosen to be trained to command the Earth’s forces after displaying his military and strategic nous. The film glosses on his training and the eventual war with a few twists and turns backed by a major surprise at the end.


Harrison Ford plays Col Hyrum Graff, the training commander and looks his age. His sound bites on morality and war seem forced and just add to the general grimness of the film. Ben Kingsley plays Ender’s personal trainer and does a fairly decent job. The other actors are stereotypical to a fault. The women are worriers, the men keep goading Ender to be tougher. There is a  predictable and formulaic air to character development, and that is where the film is a let down.


Gavin Hood plays it safe by sticking to the slick production common to all big budget movies these days. The backgrounds and settings feel rooted in unimaginative hell. The big simulations and action scenes are done well enough but a movie is more than just a collection of a few well made shots. There is nothing original here, the sets feel as soulless as can be and born of an assembly line that has churned out a hundred other movies and TV shows set in the same period.


Asa Butterfield does a good enough job in capturing the strangled essence of Ender Wiggins with a brother that’s too aggressive and another sister that is too soft. His careful balancing act is well managed, and his dealings with bullies and a female cadet done well enough. The original novel explored the morality of war rather well but the movie flounders and manages to sound like a grim diatribe that just goes on and on.


The fault lies with the seemingly seamless production, but also with the storyline. The plot appears dated and confirms to pretty much every stereotype which is maddening at times. The actors do their best but it is a tough ask to enliven a film that has been made to throw a pall over the watchers. The grim tone, whilst understandable, feels thrust upon a film that struggles to carry it’s own weight, flailing between issues as wide ranging as plot datedness and unimaginative direction.


Watch it for the performances, if you will. And if you don’t, you’re not missing much.



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