Critics' Corner: Ender's Game

"Ender's Game", a 1985 novel from Orson Scott Card, is the subject of a new film and director Gavin Hood (X:Men Origins: Wolverine). It is a science-fiction action film with an uncharacteristic premise. It is uncharacteristic in the sense that as a science-fiction action film, it is less eventful and more thoughtful. Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is an extremely gifted kid with the mentality for success in battle. He is closely watched by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and quickly moved up the ranks of a futuristic military academy.

An alien species called the 'formics' or in the book, 'the buggers', are threatening earth's existence and desperate moves are needed to be made. "Ender's Game" does have elements that are similar to two films in my opinion, but seeing as though the book came out in 1985, those films appear to be inspired by the book. Those movies are "Full Metal Jacket" (1987) and "Starship Troopers" (1997). The film focuses on the training of military recruits preparing for war against bugs and it makes a broad statement about war and its effect on the human condition.

This is easily the best thing that Harrison Ford has done in years and his performance is only bolstered by the performance of sort of unknown Asa Butterfield. Butterfield encompasses everything needed to portray a complex and challenging role. Maybe his previous performance in a rare gem like "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" prepared him for such an emotional and deep character. Much is placed upon the shoulders of the teenager Ender Wiggin and Butterfield was flawless at bringing you into an inner-turmoil that many times can only be described in a book.

I wondered why "Ender's Game" was not a summer blockbuster release because the effects are well done and the movie looked like a blockbuster type thing, but now that I've viewed it, I understand its release completely. This isn't a blockbuster release type film. This is a thoughtful film, more suitable for Oscar season and a more thoughtful movie-goer. The movie challenges you to question things and rethink things, just as its lead character does, separating him from others.

The ending of the film seem to be rushed and thrown together; most undoubtedly to prepare this film for a possible franchise of films, but that would be the only thing that I disliked about it. Not that the ending was bad, but in a film that was already near 2-hours, what happened in its final minutes, to be done properly would have required at least another 20 or 30 minutes that the creator decided to forgo. Otherwise, "Ender's Game" is loaded with solid performances and intelligence.