Movie Review: Ender’s Game

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Stars: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Stanfield, Abagail Breslin

Rated PG-13 for some violence, Sci-Fi Action and thematic material, Running time 114 minutes, Action/Sci-Fi

Compare to: Jumper (2008), The Hunger Games (2012)

I never read the novel this film was based on but I know some people who have. As a true-to-the-book adaption, I can’t say how faithful it is. As a movie itself, I can say that the entire time I couldn’t help but think that this should have been an adult story that features kids.

Instead, we have adult themes wrapped in a kid friendly packaging which makes for an average movie that sends you out feeling incomplete without the next four they’re probably hoping you’ll want.

Based on Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel of the same name, Ender’s Game features Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, a young boy chosen to be a part of an elite boot camp that trains children to become the ultimate weapons against an alien enemy that once invaded earth. The military hopes that Ender will be able to lead them against their enemies and end any threat permanently.

"Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don't look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down!"

“Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Ender, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down!”

That’s the initial story, though certain issues are raised throughout about what the military is doing to kids by making them soldiers at such young ages. Much of the discussions held by Colonel Graff (Ford) and Major Anderson (Davis) about the ethics of exposing children to the violence of war, much less being in control of an army that may wipe out an entire race are interesting and it was good that they touched on it. It’s these elements that made me want to take the movie more seriously, as war itself is a heavy topic that the film doesn’t decide for you what your opinion should be or how any characters should face on their own role.

Ford’s gruff attitude is what you’d expect from the vet, and spends half of the movie aggravated at the boy wonder while the other half is spent in awe. Butterfield himself received acclaim for his role in 2011’s Hugo, but here he plays a part not that on one hand seems like it could have played by any child actor his age, but after seeing so many films where the terrible acting of the featured kid ruined the movie for me, I have no complaints about Butterfield’s performance. Though I wish I could say something more complimentary than that he was “good enough.” But it may not be his performance so much as it is the character himself.

"Really, Ender? Go-Gurt? I thought you were 13, not some little kid."

“Really, Ender? Go-Gurt? I thought you were 13, not some little kid.”

I’m not sure about the book but it got a little old to have every scene be whether or not Ender would pass whatever obstacle or test was given to him, only to have his superiors blown away by whatever he did. Ender follows the rules of the test/game, Graff smiles to himself with satisfaction- because Ender is the only trainee to finish the course. Ender breaks all the rules of a test/game, Ford smiles to himself with satisfaction- Ender is the only one who knew that was the only way. Everyone else is fodder, Ender is Kid Jesus, we get it. This could’ve been cleared up  in a montage rather than an entire film I think.

"Zwoom! Pow! BOOM! KKSSHH AAAHHH!!! ...Heehee!"

“Zwoom! Pow! BOOM! KKSSHH AAAHHH!!! …Heehee!”

While director Gavin Hood’s attempt in this feature is leaps and bounds ahead of his 2009 Wolverine movie, which was plagued with so many issues it’s not worth going into, Ender’s Game is clearly hoping for a sequel. Aren’t all movies these days, you ask? Sure. But by the time we reach the vague conclusion here, it was so expected that it lead into a possible sequel a couple years down the road, I didn’t even realize until later that I treated it like that was normal for a movie to have no actual ending.

This movie felt like all the right ingredients were there, but nobody actually bothered making the cake. “We’ll get to that later. Aren’t you glad we got this stuff together though?”

Grade: C-

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5 Responses to “Movie Review: Ender’s Game”

  1. Randy Says:

    Question: if I go see this movie, will I be able to pretend it’s the story of what would have happened if Han Solo hadn’t deserted from the Imperial Navy and became a smuggler?

    • Taylor Says:

      You could, though Solo would’ve had to become a total stiff over the years. Guess that’s what the future army does to wild horses.

  2. This is the story before the story of Starship Troopers. Also, Ender turns out to be Randy Quaid’s illegitimate son he knew nothing about. Probably never will know since he crashed his plane into the alien spaceship in Independence Day. Great article guy. Keep em comin!

  3. I typed Ender as an INFJ. I think its fairly obvious why.

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