Game On – A review of Ender’s Game

Asa Butterfield is Ender and Harrison Ford is Colonel Hiram Graff in the big screen adaptation of the worldwide best seller Ender's Game
Asa Butterfield is Ender and Harrison Ford is Colonel Hiram Graff in the big screen adaptation of the worldwide best seller Ender's Game

Title: Ender’s Game

Production Company: Summit Entertainment

Run Time: 114 minutes

Rated: PG-13

Director: Gavin Hood

Stars: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin

5 stars for Ender's Game

Summary: Star Wars meets Harry Potter in this big screen adaptation of the internationally acclaimed best selling novel. The casting is brilliant, the storyline is tight and the film will keep you riveted from start to finish.

There are times when I question Harrison Ford’s choices of movie roles to play. What Lies Beneath and Paranoia, for example, might have been two that he should have turned down.

Here, though, it’s like he was bred to play Hiram Graff, the legendary Colonel who recruits, trains and ultimately pushes young soldier Ender Wiggin to his breaking point to ready him for battle against the dreaded Formic invasion fleet.

Seeing him in this picture kind of readies your mind for the upcoming Star Wars sequels in 2015 which will have Ford returning as General Han Solo.

But back to this movie. Years earlier, a space war with the Formics nearly devastated Earth and it was only by the sacrifice of one of Earth’s legendary battle pilots that the battle was even won.

Now, it’s time for payback, though. Earth is planning an offensive strike on the Formic home world and it’s Graff’s hope that Wiggin will be soldier enough to lead the assault.

In this future, the youth are most adaptable and are able to control vast space fleets with their minds. This limits the need for human control of starships, thus substantially reducing numbers of casualties.

The most entertaining sequences here are the training sessions we watch Ender endure. Together with his fellow recruits, he struggles to distinguish himself even though, albeit unbeknown to him, he already has an advocate in Graff.

Conflict is ever present throughout the training, often with adults, but consistently with his peers. Ender is not an impressively massive soldierly figure like some of his fellow trainees. But what he lacks in brawn he makes up for with instinct.

Some of Ender’s resentment comes from his upbringing where he was the third child in his family in a society that limits the birth rate to two children per father and mother. His parents had to get a waiver to have the third child.

Both older siblings were dumped from battle school so, in many ways, Ender believes he has to prove himself to win back respect for his older siblings.

His concern for his older sister (Abigail Breslin) is evident. He’s less than concerned for his brother, though, who used to torment him repeatedly at home.

Asa Butterfield brings a quiet yet intense resolve to the role of Ender, much like he delivered two years ago in what was arguably that year’s best movie, Hugo. Here, his small shoulders again must carry the weight of the movie and he does a better than admirable job.

Ford is as solid as ever as the gritty battle hardened Colonel Graff and Viola Davis plays off him quite nicely as Major Anderson who thinks that Graff is rushing the kids through battle school too quickly for their own good.

Overall, though, this movie has a great blend of action and drama that makes it excellent viewing for theater lovers of all ages. Even if you’re not into science fiction, you’ll be enthralled by the human story behind the conflicts.

My only complaint? A couple of gross out scenes I could have done without. But, Ender’s Game is still a solid movie which deserves a solid 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.

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