Ender’s Game review

Director:
Gavin Hood
Cast:
Asa Butterfield
Harrison Ford
Ben Kingsley
Viola Davis
Rated: PG-13

No, I have not read the book. Moving on.

The story of “Ender’s Game” follows the title character, Ender (Butterfield), who is a young genius who the world government wants to lead its star fleet into battle. Said battle would be against an alien race that unsuccessfully invaded Earth decades ago.

As Ender trains, he learns more about himself, how the military operates, the hierarchy with other cadets and soldiers and even learns about the enemy itself.

“Ender’s Game” starts off well enough. There is an interesting background which shows the alien fleet getting defeated the same way the martians in “Independence Day” were, followed by the introduction of Ender. Ender is brilliant, can hold his own in a fight, but has his own share of problems. The interesting start, though, leads to a downward spiral as the story becomes repetitive.

From the start, the story of Ender goes into a series of similar events. Ender joins a new crew or unit, at first he is unliked, however, he shows off some flashes of brilliance, earns respect and after that he gets promoted to a higher level. This type of repetitiveness really slows the story and leads to a climax where an audience could be nearly taken out of the movie. The end of the movie itself tries to send a message, too, but it doesn’t really work well.

The problems with the story lead into the problems with Ender. He basically starts out perfect from the very beginning. He’s a genius, always can win in a fight, and doesn’t seem to learn much over the course of his character arc. The only time that his character really starts advancing any sort of way is when he begins to learn a little more about the aliens, but this doesn’t even happen until the third act of the film.

Despite Butterfield doing a nice job acting, his character’s story arc is just uninteresting. Compared to other sci-fi protagonists, Ender falls a bit flat

When it comes to the supporting cast, the film does in fact bring in some nice performances. Ford, Davis and Kingsley are all veteran actors and do a well enough job here. Each one of them shows various levels of what they think of the military and its usage of children in fighting wars for them. The problem is that the plot seems to move a little too fast and therefor, none of them ever really become a true mentor for Ender.

The rest of the cast, though, mainly the younger cast, is really unmemorable. Despite Ender making a few friends over the course of the movie, none of them really stick as memorable characters like you might see in other sci-fi films or young adult pieces.

In terms of special effects, the film does well enough. There are nice scenes in a zero gravity room and the final scenes do look interesting. However, with the story moving so quickly and having the repetitive nature, it’s hard to even care about all the action going on.

“Ender’s Game” does have good actors and nice special effects, yet lacks memorable characters and an engaging story. 2 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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