Review - Ender's Game

Ender's Game (2013), PG-13, 114 minutes - This year has been the year of the sci-fi film in Hollywood, and the latest entry to the genre is Ender's Game.

Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, it takes place on a future Earth in a time after humanity barely survived an alien invasion.  The surviving population of Earth has implemented a development program that takes young boys and girls and molds them into the soldiers of the future in hopes of discovering the next great leader who will neutralize the alien threat for good.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is the youngest of three children.  The other two of which have already been dismissed from the leadership school.  Older brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) is too violent, and middle sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) is considered too compassionate.  The students are run through various battle scenarios in a programmable, zero G environment - did I mention the 'school' is in space? (think the danger room from the X-Men).  Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) observe Ender's development with a close eye.  Graff believes that Ender could be the leader that Earth is looking for while Anderson worries that he may be getting forced into a position he isn't ready for.  Ender proves to embody a balanced mix of his sibling's traits and over time earns the the respect of his fellow students and commanding officers.  I don't want to get into plot lines too much more because I don't want to give away the impact of the end of the story.

The cast is great and I haven't even mentioned Hailee Steinfeld or Ben Kingsley yet (that makes five Oscar nominees just in case you were counting).  Harrison Ford may play a craggy, stubborn old man almost as well as Clint Eastwood.  On the other hand, Davis' Anderson balances him out quite nicely.  Steinfeld, Kingsley and Breslin all have relatively small roles, but each is important to Ender and his development at the leadership school.  I think I was most impressed by Asa Butterfield though.  He did a wonderful job of portraying Ender in a variety of emotional and physical scenarios all while displaying an understanding of strategies (both military and social) far beyond his years.

Oftentimes I like to read a film's source material before seeing it, but in this case I have yet to read the book.  Having enjoyed the movie, I am intrigued to get to the book (and its sequels).  If past experiences with other film adaptations and their source material hold true, it should be a great read.  

There are still a few movies set to release this year that I am eagerly anticipating, along with films that will undoubtedly become Academy Award front runners, but at this point in the year I can safely say that Ender's Game is one of the better sci-fi films to be released during 2013.  It may even sneak onto my Top 10 of the year list.  It's worth giving a look if the opportunity arises.

Comments

  1. Ender's Game is one of my all-time favorite books--it's stood the test for over 20 years for me. The sequels are good too, but are very different and none of them stand as strong as the first book.

    I'm excited and worried about seeing the movie, since it is such a favorite of mine. Though I think they cast Ender well. Asa Butterfield was really good as the young Mordred in BBC's Merlin.

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    Replies
    1. I'll be very interested to hear what you think once you have seen it since I have yet to read the book and had no expectations going in.

      How many books did the series end up being?

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