Let’s lay the truth out, first. I haven’t read the book. So take this “review” with a grain of salt. Orson Scott Card would be ashamed I’m sure, but hey, I wanted a date night with Allie. And guess what sci-fi nerd’s wet dream was playing at the three-dollar movie yesterday night? That’s right. Ender’s Game.
I’ve been a nerd since I was an embryo. I’m not using that as a label like, what high school stereotype to do you embody, or as a hipster-approval badge. Im a nerd because I fell in love with Star Trek as a kid and had an affair with Star Wars a few years later. I’m a nerd because Ghostbusters is my favorite film of all and because outer space I find astonishing. I’m a nerd because Mobile Suit Gundam is my anime obsession and most of that takes place in space as well. I love the idea of space…and apparently so does Harrison Ford.
I think this film got the kind of hype from fans that they were looking to get with an earlier non-Star Wars, Harrison Ford sci-fi tale, Cowboys & Aliens, but failed to meet expectation. His usual borderline-pessimistic attitude, realism ideology and angry grunting and screaming (he has a knack for this….see video below) make him a perfect, age-appropriate candidate to play International Fleet Colonel Hyrum Graff.
However, it’s 16-year old English actor Asa Butterfield as the protagonist–the titular Ender–that really steals the show. It might be a bit late for this film to stand tall in the midst of Hollywood’s obsession of adapting young-adult novels to film, a la Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. (I don’t necessarily consider the novel to be in that category, but because of the way the film was portrayed, the film is a different story) But I would personally love to see Butterfield’s Ender and his comrades grow up on and off the screen into the characters they may possibly need to portray in future installments of this series.
Ender is the youngest child of three, with a close relationship with sister Valentine (portrayed by the surprisingly older Abigail Breslin) and a distant relationship with sociopath brother Peter (portrayed by some dude). He is approached by Col. Graff and Maj. Gwen Anderson (sympathetically played by Viola Davis) to become a candidate for the International Fleet Battle School with the mission of training youngsters with massive potential to become war machines and prevent a future war with an alien species called the Formics, who were engaged in a war with humans fifty years prior.
The concept of the series is really exciting. Like Gundam, and unlike, say, Independence Day or Starship Troopers, the line between good and evil is realistically blurred. Maybe the enemy doesn’t just want to go around killing other species for no reason. Maybe they are human-level intelligent, if not beyond that (I mean come on…are humans really that smart?). And maybe, this preparation to become the ultimate alien-killing solider as a teenager is a total front for something more massive, more sadistic. It’s no Oscar-winning gig, but it is great to see talented actors, both young and old, pick up a project based off an older, world-renowned sci-fi novel and make it into something great. The violence is gritty but there is little to no gore, little swearing and absolutely no nudity or sex. Recommended.
Hollywood science fiction could use a picker-upper because, lets be honest, Transformers 2 and 3 (and probably 4) don’t cut it. The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World fared excellently with their science fiction elements, but overall are not in that particular category. That being said, Ender should hold us over until Star Wars comes out with its seventh theatrical installment next year (that CGI Clone Wars crap doesnt count. Good show; bad film), and if Star Wars VII just so happens to fail for any reason, then this year’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy topped with a future second installment to Ender and third installment to Star Trek will definitely pick up the pace when they arrive.
Geek out. Now.