Training children in the art of war in Ender’s Game

Daniel Woodhouse

Image courtesy of Facebook
Image courtesy of Facebook

Before I start this review, let me mention the controversy that has been swirling around this film. I realize that the author of the novel Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, has extreme homophobia and could be compared to both Pat Robertson and Glenn Beck, but this will not affect my opinion of the film.

The story, which takes place in the year 2086, follows a young boy named Ender Wiggin. Ender and numerous other children are being trained to become fleet commanders in a war against an alien race which invaded Earth several years prior. The idea is since children have such a wide sense of imagination, they are likely to come up with creative, unorthodox solutions to battlefield problems. Unfortunately, the clock is against mankind as the aliens are preparing a second invasion fleet to strike our little blue planet.

Gavin Hood’s screenplay creates an interesting sci-fi atmosphere, complete with great dialogue and set pieces. Ender and the other trainees have believable, witty conversations. Hood does a good job setting the scenes where the recruits play what seems to be a game of zero-gravity laser tag designed to teach teamwork and tactics. The battle simulations have some good-looking CGI about them, but they aren’t as exciting as a massive space battle should be. At times, the script seems like it’s trying to cram too much material into not enough time.

Asa Butterfield perfectly fits the character of Ender as a scrawny, yet brilliant boy who has mixed feelings about going to war. Harrison Ford puts on a good show as the cold, victory-at-all-costs Colonel Graff, and Viola Davis works well as the compassionate Major Anderson. Ben Kingsley gives a good performance as Mazer Rackham, but casting an actor of his caliber for a fairly one-dimensional character seems unnecessary.

While none of the actors give bad performances, their characters don’t feel completely fleshed out as the movie focuses heavily on Ender. A good example is Ender’s friend Bean, who mentions once that he “grew up on the streets” — and that’s about all the backstory we get for him. That’s not cliché or anything.

Ender’s Game is fairly average as a sci fi movie, and while it may have some good writing, it’s way too short to leave a lasting impression.

3 out of 5 stars