The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Ender's Game | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Ender's Game

A young boy is trained to become Earth's last hope in the fight against an alien race.

Directed by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Moises Arias, Viola Davis

After an alien race, known as the Formics, attempt to colonize Earth is foiled by a heroic pilot who sacrifices himself in the process, preparations begin to repel any further attacks. 50 years later, with no intervening attack, Earth's leaders have put in place a scheme whereby gifted children are trained to take on any returning alien forces. One such child is Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Butterfield), selected for his willingness to resort to violence and dirty tricks as a way to solve problems, just the sort of quality military leader Colonel Hyrum Graff (Ford) is looking for. Ender is sent for training on the "Battle School", a giant space station, where he quickly rises through the ranks while making several enemies along the way.
Thanks to their reliance on unconvincing CGI and lack of involving storylines or relatable characters, modern sci-fi blockbusters are often accused of resembling video games rather than movies. 'Ender's Game', adapted from Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel, takes this criticism to its literal extreme; most of its running time really does consist of kids playing video games, in this case military simulations. I haven't read the source book but having cast my eyes over its synopsis, I can say that little of the original content has made it to the screen. To cater for a young audience, there's been a lot of toning down and much of the plot has been excised in favor of a "Harry Potter in space" movie, consisting solely of Ender's military training aboard an orbiting Hogwarts. Because Ender spends the movie playing training simulations, rather than being put in real danger, there's zero tension throughout. The short shrift given to Ender's siblings (who apparently play a huge role in the novel) leaves us scratching our heads as to the point of these characters.
We've become used to single books being split into two movies as a cheap cash grab lately and the entire plot of this, the first in presumably a planned series, could have been condensed into a 40 minute first act, allowing time for a real story to be developed from one of the later novels. A final twist may have the film-makers patting themselves on their backs for pulling the wool over our eyes (and making a clumsy piece of social commentary in the process) but it unintentionally leaves the audience feeling like the victims of a bad practical joke. The parting of one simple piece of information to the viewer would have supplied some much needed suspense. Instead, an attempt to be clever and "meta" renders 'Ender's Game' an explicit example of how not to structure a screenplay.

Eric Hillis