Asa Butterfield stars as Ender – a genius military recruit in a futuristic world where aliens beat the living daylights out of humanity years ago, and we have been preparing for their return. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) is in charge of training all of the young recruits, who are brought into the program because young minds can wrap their heads around the complex maneuvering and plotting needed in war, and he believes Ender is the great tactician he has been searching for and humanity’s only hope for survival (no pressure there, kid).
As Ender rises through the ranks, he faces more difficulty, resistance from the troops and fears from the higher ranking officers who think this kid is not ready to go into battle.
Can Ender save humanity?
Ender’s Game looks pretty and keeps the audience engaged, but it lacks the depth needed to be great.
It feels like writer/director Gavin Hood (based on the novel by Orson Scott Card) is faced with bringing together many, many stories, motivations, character developments and more, but never really dives head first into any of them. Is he caught in the trap of trying to fit everything from the book into the movie at the expense of making a better film?
You can see there is so much more to explore in Ender’s life, his siblings, and his relationships with other trainees as well as more about the older figures like Graff and Major Anderson (Viola Davis). However, Hood needs to cruise through all of this to get to the main plot’s climax or we would be stuck in the theater for 6 hours (this isn’t Lord of The Rings, no one wants to be there for 6 hours).
Luckily, Butterfield and Ford are able to find enough to grab onto. Butterfield is wonderful as showing the growth Ender goes through to evolve from a scared little kid to a commanding figure with the charisma to convince others to follow him.
Meanwhile, Ford is so solid as the adult figure pushing and prodding the kid as needed, but also making the audience wonder what drives Graff and leading us to question if he is not overreacting or becoming obsessed with what could happen next, and losing sight of what is right for Ender.
We do get some very good special effects, even if the aliens look a little phony, so Ender’s Game is better than most.
Ender’s Game is rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.