‘Ender’s Game’ Movie Review (Spoiler free!)

Enders-Game-Movie-Posterby Cassandra

In the near future, a hostile alien race called the Formics have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy but strategically brilliant boy, is recruited to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult challenges and simulations, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race. Based on the best-selling, award winning novel by Orson Scott Card, ENDER’S GAME is an epic adventure which stars Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, with Abigail Breslin and Ben Kingsley, and is written for the screen and directed by Gavin Hood.

The ‘Ender’s Game’ film left me desiring more in the best way.

As expected, Don McAlpine’s cinematography highlighted the intricate future beautifully. I appreciated that director Gavin Hood showcased a believable future, where familiar objects are upgraded, but not replaced entirely. Every set looks mesmerizing, and the zero-gravity battle room scenes are so impressively believable that the audience may feel ill.

On screen, Asa Butterfield makes a very believable Ender Wiggin. Although he’s lanky, Butterfield’s face is young enough to appear as a small child around eleven. Butterfield acts with more subtle facial movements than words, which speaks well to Ender’s isolation and intelligence. Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley all demonstrated superb acting.

My biggest complaint is that the ‘Ender’s Game’ film feels forcibly rushed. Despite verbal clues, the audience will sense that Ender’s battle school experience lasted only a couple days or weeks, rather than years. Due to time constraints, several of the characters are underdeveloped, including Bean, Alai, Dink, and Bernard. The audience is not given enough time to bond with these characters and those unfamiliar with the original story will find these favorites replaceable.

Ender’s relationship with his sister Valentine is the driving emotional force in the film, strongly aided by the score. Although Valentine Wiggin actress, Abigail Breslin, doesn’t get much screen time, her acting leaves a lasting impression and audiences will feel her presence throughout the film.

Although there are several book to film changes, fans will be pleased to find most of their favorite scenes to be condensed versions of the original story, including Valentine’s lake scene, Ender’s shower scene, and the final simulation. Without spoilers, Ender’s shower scene was very gruesome and I think fans really enjoy it. I believe ‘Ender’s Game’ fans will enjoy Gavin Hood’s film adaption. I recommend the ‘Ender’s Game’ movie to fans of science fiction and action movies, children over thirteen, and most adults.

I really hope there is an extended edition released on DVD.

4/5 Stars

The ‘Ender’s Game’ film will be released in U.S. theaters on November 1, 2013.