“Ender’s Game” brings Orson Scott Card’s critically acclaimed novel to the screen for the first time. The concepts and actors are all in the right place, yet the film lacks consistent quality to raise the story above cliché Hollywood fare.
The year is 2086: Earth’s leaders are still reeling from shock after surviving an alien invasion. In order to prepare for future attacks, an International Fleet scouts the globe for potential adolescents with the best tactical mind. These teens endure intensive training in order to become war leaders.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, played by Asa Butterfield, is seen as great potential for tactical duty. Fleet Commander Colonel Grif (Harrison Ford), watches him with special care and brings him to military training camp.
Wiggins rise to power is stereotypical of every story of this type. An average looking individual – an outcast – is chosen by a leader to save the world. The chosen one goes through special training where he excels at greater speed than everyone around him. He has oddball friends; people don’t like him, etc.
A major issue is that the book is roughly 380 pages and the film wants to hit every major story arc in the span of two hours. Many of the characters quickly come and go and we never understand the reason why the protagonist cares so much about his sister. The film would benefit by allowing certain scenes and characters to develop instead of clogging the book’s dimensions into such a limited time.
It would be simple for me to point out Ender’s many faults and simply write an article bashing the film, but doing so would be disingenuous as a writer. That is due to the fact the film is uneven in quality. One moment, the acting and story come together to create an intriguing scene- a moment of cinematic delight – and the next could be an overdramatic mess. What happened in the writer’s room or the director’s chair during these sections? Who knows. But Ender’s lacks consistency.
One part of Ender’s that is consistent? The film’s high-minded concepts. Many ideas of privacy and the nature of war are brought up throughout the film. Explaining such notions would ruin much of the movie, but the driving philosophical theme will linger with you long after the credits roll.
The special effects are also of high quality. There are training sessions involving zero gravity and guns that look incredibly authentic. CGI is used seamlessly throughout scenes to the point where the viewer forgets that it is even there.
It is hard to recommend this movie; the film is clogged with too many ideas and not enough time is given for the development of important characters. The script is uneven, whereby some scenes hit their emotional mark and others drag into a campy territory. That being said, “Ender’s Game” explores notions rarely discussed in films. Although the movie’s quality is not consistent throughout, when it does work, the film is far more intriguing than the typical sci-fi romp.