“Ender’s Game” Review

Based on the classic Orson Scott novel, this movie is the result of a 28-year effort to get the book adapted. After an alien invasion, the military decides to recruit children to be future leaders. Directed by Gavin Hood, Asa Butterfield stars as Ender. The impressive supporting cast includes Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, and Sir Ben Kingsley. With a 100 million dollar plus budget and numerous technical innovations going into it, it’s disappointing that Ender’s Game is as underwhelming as it is.

The film’s main falter is the lack of focus in its script. The underlying moral messages are either shoved into your face or underdeveloped. There are several ideas that are presented in the film (love interests, character faults, etc.) but then completely forgotten about. The first 2/3 of the film isn’t great, but it’s harmless enough. Everything falls apart in the remaining 1/3 though. Characters start making less and less sense, themes and messages are muddled, and everything seems less real. Not to mention the incredibly anti-climatic ending.

For a film with so many child actors, the performances are surprisingly solid. Especially with so much CGI. Asa Butterfield holds the movie together with relative believability, and the supporting roles are played well – even surpassing the performances of some of the veteran actors in the film. Viola Davis is good with what she’s given. Harrison Ford isn’t that great, though not worse than anything else he’s done in the past decade. And the film pulls an ‘Iron Man 3’ by barely including Ben Kingsley, and while he’s there, he’s not memorable.

On a technological level, this film is great. Plenty of scenes are in zero gravity, and it’s believable. The battle training sequences in the middle of the film are probably the high point. And the creature designs are great – with what little they do with them. 

This film isn’t terrible. It just feels a little bit rushed. With all of the money put into special effects, it would have been nice if there were a little more put into making the script good. 7/10.

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