Ender’s Game (2013)

Myself and many others love Science Fiction. More often than not, the major Science Fiction films have big budgets and small plots. You get the routine lasers and space battles and you don’t ever take much away from the film. For a time, it seemed as if the genre was on the decline, as the stories grew more outlandish. This year, however, the genre seems more realistic than ever and is exploring new ways to approach space and warfare. Plus, it helps if you’ve got awesome source material to draw from.

Ender Wiggin is a truly gifted boy.
Ender Wiggin is a truly gifted boy.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a young boy, enlisted in The International Military. He, like many other young children, is trained in battle and combat strategy at an early age. The goal of this training, is to prepare the younger generation for an invasion by the Formics, an insect-like enemy. The Formics killed millions of citizens before they were defeated by Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). Now, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) is in charge of finding a new commander for the entire fleet. With the help of Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis), he will explore Ender’s mind, so as to see if he’s up for the challenge.

The way Ender views the world, is through strategy. While other recruits take the headfirst approach, Ender contemplates all his options and figures out the moves that his enemy will make. As he moves through the ranks with his friends Bean (Aramis Knight), Petra (Hailee Steinfeld), Alai (Suraj Partha), Dink (Khylin Rhambo), and Bernard (Conor Carroll), Ender begins to hone his skills and learns how to best his enemy through strategy. The only thing on Ender’s mind, is that the approach may be all wrong. Why fight the enemy, when you don’t understand them?

Ender and Petra grow close as friends and teammates.
Ender and Petra grow close as friends and teammates.

Based on the best-selling novel by Orson Scott-Card, Ender’s Game is one of the most intelligent Sci-Fi novels/movies that I’ve ever read/seen. It’s’ very refreshing to see a film build upon its character for most of the story. We know that Ender is a gifted child, but as we see him progress, we learn just how gifted he is. His thought process and handling of enemies is unique and something that anyone can appreciate. Hearing his side to the story is very fun too, as he doesn’t always agree with his superiors (and for good reason). The character of Ender is one of the best written Science Ficiton characters of all time.

A lot of what this film is about, is the issue of morality. Starting with the fact that children are trained to be on the forefront for warfare, Ender’s Game is full of corruption and twisted realities. In this universe, the lives of young children are at risk and are used to prevent an attack that may never come. The Formics were driven away from Earth and returned to their home world after the battle. After their departure, the International Military began gathering its forces in an effort to build a great enough army to wipe the Formics out completely, before they attack again. Whereas most powerful people see this preemptive strike as the best plan, Ender sees flaws in it and believes that peace should try to be made. Unfortunately for Ender, he’s just a kid who is used for his mind.

Ender has entered the Zero Gravity battle room!
Ender has entered the Zero Gravity battle room!

Ender’s Game is littered with one extraordinary sequence after another. As a trainee in battle school, Ender and the students must partake in zero gravity battles. There are four teams on the space station that fight in the battle arena, a zero gravity room with moveable structures. It’s here, where we see Ender’s genius at work. While most kids hide behind structures and try all-out tactics, Ender creates strategies to beat his enemies. Also, in the war room, a simulation of battle takes place. Holographic projections fill up the room and Ender can see and control his entire fleet with his hands and mind. The lasers, space ships, and combat are all insanely fun to watch and will stick with you for a while. If only we had technology like that…

The actors and the pacing in the film is what slightly bothered me. Having read the novel, I understand that it’s hard to include everything in there, but that doesn’t mean the information should be rushed in the film. The beginning of the film progresses rather quickly and you move from one thing to the next in a matter of minutes. We don’t get to spend too much time with quintessential characters like Petra, Bean, and Major Anderson. Their characters in the film are okay, but they don’t play as large of roles as they should. I also took some issue with the ending of the film, because I don’t think that it’s done well. It’s rushed, predictable, and leaves you unsure of what actually happened or why something happened. Besides all that, the film works on every other level.

Sir Ben Kingsley plays a mysterious man with interesting facial tattoos.
Sir Ben Kingsley plays a mysterious man with interesting facial tattoos.

I have seen tons of big budget Sci-Fi films this year, but none have left as great an impression as Ender’s Game did. As I sat in that theater for over two hours, I was completely absorbed in the story. The visuals are great and the technology looks amazing, but it’s the story that makes Ender’s Game so great. It’s innovative, it’s original, and it’s a whole lot of fun. You’ll leave the theater in awe of what you have just seen, but you’ll also contemplate the decisions and morality of what you saw, as well. If a movie can grant you that experience, well then, it must be good. It’s one that you should go see soon and you should also read the book. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.

Ender’s Game Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UNWLgY-wuo

4 STARS!!!

 

4 / 5 stars     

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