Ender’s Game (2013)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting story

So-So acting, nothing experimental or different

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Ender’s Game

Studio:  Chartoff Productions

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/War

Release Date(s):  October 24, 2014 (Germany)/November 1, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Ender is gunning for you!

Earth has undergone a war with the Formics and barely survived and now the world has turned to children as potential leaders.  Ender  Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is the third of three children…a rarity among families.  With his sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) and his brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) having failed the testing, Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) sees more potential in Ender despite the objections of Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis).  As Ender works his way through the ranks of children soldiers, he finds himself leading an army, but Ender’s doubts could destroy him…and the enemy is growing closer.


Get your ass in gear, Ender!

Directed by Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game adapts the award winning 1985 teen novel by Orson Scott Card.  The movie received controversy before its release when Card’s view on homosexuality and same sex marriage became a talking point.  Groups called for the film to be boycotted, and the studio even worked to distance itself from Card.  The movie was released to modest reviews but made a meager profit at the box office for his high cost.

I read Ender’s Game years ago and remember enjoying it for what it was.  It was a science-fiction novel for kids that dared to use language that kids used (swear words, etc.)…and it was violent!  With more modern films (not for kids) like Battle Royale or even The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game seems a bit tame by comparison.


Game over, man!

The movie is rather driven by the story.  I like the basic idea behind Ender’s Game and how it is a bit of a result over Vietnam backlash.  The idea of sending kids off to war is pushed to the extreme, but in pushing it to the extreme, the people waging the war like Graff don’t consider that younger people aren’t prone to hate like older adults and decisions often way heavier on them.  Ender and the other children are put in a position that they should never be in.

The oddest thing about the movie (and book) is that it is sometimes promoted by the military.  I find it rather anti-military and war.  *****Spoiler Alert***** The story turns into a rather Nazi-esque experiment about detachment and following orders.  Ender and his team don’t know they are actually costing real lives and believe “the game” is a simulation instead of the actual battle.  It is like the old experiment where people are willing to torture people through orders versus personal torture…it is kind of sick and twisted.


Don’t mess with an Oscar winner!

I find the acting is rather so-so.  Asa Butterfield is forced to hold the movie and does a decent job for someone so young, but he does struggle.  I think both Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld are a little wasted as Ender’s sister Valentine and ally Petra Arkanian.  Harrison Ford likewise is a bit generic as the war-monger colonel though I did like the yin to his yang in Viola Davis who questions Colonel Graff’s actions.  I also wish that Ben Kingsley’s Mazer Rackham had shown up earlier and had more of a role since he too is a talented actor.


Can’t we all just get along?

The visuals for Ender’s Game are strong but it doesn’t do anything new (like something edgier like The Hunger Games attempted).  I do like the alien design revealed at the end of the film but due to the film’s format, the alien’s don’t get much screentime.  I wish there was something more inventive about the style or the special effects of the film.

Ender’s Game was a bit better than I thought it would be, but it managed this by being mostly faithful to the source material.  If you are a fan of science-fiction, it is worth seeking out.  The film did not light the box-office on fire and there have been no plans to bring any of the sequels to the screen.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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