Review: Ender's Game / Cert: 12 / Director: Gavin Hood / Screenplay: Gavin Hood / Starring: Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford / Release Date: Out Now
Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Game, took many of the pressing concerns of the '80s and flung them into the future, from overpopulation to technology encroaching on daily life. In 2014, these concerns are even more demanding, making Ender’s Game feel far more relevant today than on publication.
For much of the film though, you can’t help but feel cheated, as if you’re watching a sports movie posing as sci-fi. In between the ‘games’ there are some impressive interstellar depictions and with 2001 pretensions and the ‘games’ themselves, it looks more like ballet in space.
While Asa Butterfield is making strides in his acting career as the eponymous protagonist, it’s Harrison Ford who commands the screen in every scene he’s in, with a strong and sincere performance. Ben Kingsley, too, is highly entertaining and watchable during his brief time on-screen.
It’s entertaining and stirring to see how Ender inspires loyalty in his teammates during the ‘game’ sequences. The CG ‘mind games’ are a particular stand-out, looking like an underrated indie gem in the Playstation Store.
The film does throw the odd narrative curveball and raises ethical and moral questions about wartime and whether it’s justifiable to put mass responsibility on the shoulders of children. Whatever the agenda, the film makes sure the audience walks away knowing there are always causalities and consequences during war.
The film moves far too quickly however, the succession of quick cuts often jarring and never lingering long enough for any real connection. During the scenes where the camera takes a backseat and the characters get all teary-eyed, the dialogue is often wooden and unnatural.
Without giving the whole plot away, the film does put some interesting spins on common sci-fi tropes, but praise is due more to the source material than the film itself. The real story begins with the end of the film, which while tantalising is far too abrupt. Card’s Speaker for the Dead answers many of the questions thrown up by the films ending, but, unfortunately is set some 3000 years after Ender’s Game.