Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ender's Game - Movie Review

Ender's Game is a science fiction story adapted from a novel written by controversial author Orson Scott Card. Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis all star in the movie which was adapted for the screen and directed by Gavin Hood.

After alien invaders nearly destroyed all life on Earth, the International Military began recruiting and training the smartest young minds on the planet to lead the inevitable continuation of this interstellar conflict. Ender Wiggin (Butterfield) is being watched closely by his trainers due to being the younger sibling of two former candidates who both just barely missed moving on to the higher levels of the training program.

Colonel Graff (Ford) believes Ender is the one who will ultimately lead the military to victory against the alien species known as the Formics, even though he clearly has so much to learn before taking on that kind of responsibility. Even for one so young, the boy exudes leadership and has a knack for strategic combat that doesn't just lead to victory, but also renders his opponents unable to ever attack him again. These rare abilities move him quickly up the ranks and, while compiling a team of fellow trainees who also possess very unique skill sets, Ender begins to fulfill the promise he showed from day one. Even so, there are still some very hard lessons to learn and the biggest lesson of all may be in what he does when the fate of an entire civilization is in his hands.

Ender's Game is much more than a run of the mill action movie and it goes way beyond relying on big budget special effects to tell the story. There are a lot of messages wrapped into this tale, some of which are right at the forefront and others are buried deep down in the subtext of what is going on. There are also a lot of elements put in to lay the groundwork for a much larger story that has so far been told over the course of the ongoing series of novels written by award winning author Orson Scott Card.

When I sat down to watch this movie, I had absolutely no idea what to expect which may have helped my enjoyment of it even though I have heard that it is a pretty faithful interpretation of the book. Either way, I found myself really enjoying this film for both the compelling story as well as a visual style that is very appealing and contains a whole bunch of cool stuff I've never seen on a movie screen before, I suppose with the exception of an arachnid-like alien race. The special effects shots were all very well put together and the sound mix, which I rarely comment on, was wonderfully mixed for proper theater rattling results.

One of the themes I was most impressed with was the inclusion of bullying, which of course is very timely right now, as a learning tool and how the characters were more about empowering themselves to solve problems when they arose rather than having parental figures try to control any possible situation before it ever happens. This gave Ender a strength and innate leadership quality you don't normally see in this overly sensitive time we currently live in. To me, Ender is a lot like Tony Stark in his combination of unequaled intellect combined with a borderline arrogance that sets him apart as an unquestioned yet reluctant leader.

Summit Entertainment hopes it has another money making franchise on its hands with Ender's Game, and after watching this first installment, I definitely wouldn't mind seeing more of the rich universe that Card has created over many years of writing. If allowed to continue, Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld have the ability to lead this series into the future as long as audiences keep showing up to see them. Overall, this was an unexpectedly good movie that you absolutely must see on the biggest screen you can possibly find.


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