Ender’s Game (2013) – Review

3 Stars

Longtime fans of Orson Scott Card’s novels have cried foul over the many contentious liberties taken by the filmmakers. One department the creative team has not skimmed is in the visual effects arena. Ender’s Game is a beautifully designed picture with some dazzling imagery and a story that is intriguing before it turns anti-climactic. The final reveal may have been more impactful in novel form. On the screen, the third act events seem perfunctory and unsatisfying. On the whole, Ender’s Game stands amongst the better young adult adaptations in recent years.

Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is a cadet in military school. He’s smaller than the others and bullied. So, he is forced to combat his enemies with strategy and resourcefulness. A lunchroom altercation catches the eye of the watchful Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), who ear-marks Ender for acceptance into officer’s training.

The second part of the story is the trials and games that cadet Wiggins must navigate his squad through. The team starts out at odds, but quickly Ender is able to rally the kids together and defeat the much more established platoons. This performance grants Ender the right to command a drone army in a simulation on the enemy, an alien form capable of telekinetic communication.

This is your basic war film converted into sci-fi terms, so as not to have an ethnically identifiable enemy to hurt international box office receipts. The main roles are mostly pre-teens actors with often breaking voices. The totalitarian government sub-text is only hinted at, revealing the intentions of producers to simply entertain rather than provoke thought. Ender’s Game is successful in building a world that is both beautiful and simple, its destined to be a favorite amongst young boys, but is that a good thing?

Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley

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