Ender’s Game Review: This Ain’t Chess

Photo Credit:http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/08/06/enders-game-trailer-harrison-ford/

Ender’s Game is based on a popular sci-fi novel renowned for its thought provoking political ideas and portrayal of war, despite it being a war against aliens. And like most novel adaptations, things got dumbed down from page to celluloid.

Even more unfortunate is the stale script that includes dialogue like “I have to do this” and “Oh my God, he’s doing it…” delivered with barely more finesse than most actors in the Star Wars prequels.

But the nature of the story still bleeds through. We follow Ender (Asa Butterfield) as he trains in Battle School to fight a war he is way too young to fight. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees a leader in this young boy and intends to take him all the way to the end of the war.

It’s pretty cool to watch Ender develop himself as a leader in the various special effects heavy tasks that prepare him for battle. He has enough of a tangible arc throughout the movie that it isn’t all just spectacle. It leads to a rousing third act that raises a plethora of moral quandaries.

These big ideas of war and what “enemy” really means are interesting, but the build-up isn’t cleverly enough laid out to make the ending land as well as it could have.

It seems like director Gavin Hood was more interested in creating the climactic battle than selling the point of the story. Which is a shame, because it walks a very fascinating moral code that too many blockbusters try to avoid.

No, this film is not as fun as other space epics like, say, Serenity, but it tells an intriguing tale of war and ethics. Had the execution been stronger, this could have been a worthy adaptation (with the way Hollywood works these days, just wait a decade for a more capable director to tackle it).

Instead it is a mediocre one, with a wooden script and boring, but never terrible, performances. The action is fun and there is enough ethical candy to suck on, but I can’t shake the feeling that this could have been a much better film. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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