At the Movies: Ender’s Game

I don’t know what to make of “Ender’s Game.” It’s a rather odd sci-fi film. There are things I like about it but overall it felt a bit off.

Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game” takes place in the aftermath of an invasion by a bug-like aliens called the Formics. Earth’s defense plans revolve around the training of youths to fight the upcoming interstellar war.

Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) is convinced that the Neo/Harry Potter who will successfully lead the forces of Earth into battle is young Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield). Ender is a quiet but brilliant lad who has trouble making friends. His only confidant is his sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin).

Enders-Game-Movie-PosterMr. Wiggin is promoted to Battle School, where Graff’s continual praising of him doesn’t really endear Ender to his classmates — with the notable exception of Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfeld). Ender and his classmates work through a variety of battle simulations in zero-gravity which supposedly show what a great strategist he is although I usually couldn’t make sense of what was going on.

After an accident involving a rival student, Ender wants out but Graff won’t hear of it. After a visit with Valentine he agrees to return only now he’s been promoted to Command School. This means more battle simulations, only this time on a much greater scale.

Directed by Gavin Hood, “Ender’s Game” boasts nifty special effects and set designs but the story is thin. Like the “Harry Potter” movies I have a feeling I’d have a better grasp of what was going on if I’d read the book. There seems to be something important about his relationship with his brother but it’s just hinted at and not fully explored. There’s a lot of that in “Ender’s Game.”

There’s no humor here. Everything is deadly serious, in fact Ford’s performance comes across as too serious — to the point of being absurd. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d speak out for a comedy relief character but this film might have benefited from one.

I feel like I’m bashing this movie but I didn’t hate it. I just feel like I’m missing huge chunks of the story that might have made it more appealing. As it is, “Ender’s Game” just comes across as a weird, strangely compelling tale.

 

 

 

 

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