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Ender's Game: Reviewed by Dzymslizzy

Updated on August 17, 2019
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Words, wordplay, reading, and writing have been favorites of Liz's since early childhood. She enjoys exploring science and science fiction.

A Surprising Film

This was a movie my husband wanted to watch, and I wasn't sure it was exactly my type of movie. However, I was surprisingly drawn into the story, and enjoyed it quite thoroughly.

I do like the Sci-Fi genre, but I do not like blood guts and gore, such as are seen in many Sci-Fi horror movies such as "Alien."

No worries. There is none of that in this movie at all. It carries a rating of PG-13, probably because of some strong language here and there.

Ender's Game is based upon the book of the same name by Orson Scott Card, published in 1994.

Harrison Ford


Ender's Game Character Development

The character development is well done; you get a good sense of who these people are and what they are like, even though the scenes giving that background are fairly brief. That is the mark of strong acting and good writing and directing--to be able to define a character with minimal narrative and no distraction from the progression of the story line. The character development is written into the action.

It is nearly impossible to review this movie without some level of spoilers, so be warned; following is a brief synopsis of the storyline and general plot. If you don't want even that much advance information on the story, stop reading now.

However, I promise not to spoil the ending, so read on if you're curious.

The Action

The story takes place at some unspecified time in the future, and features a young boy, Ender Wiggin, who is a masterful player of video games.

Earth is under threat from some horrific alien race that we've battled in the past, and suffered badly. It is decided that the quick minds of youngsters who grew up with video games present our best option for the new battle tactics against a perceived new threat from these same aliens.

The Recruits

Off-Earth, in a space station, is the training ground where the recruits are taken to train. Physical training is intense, and there is the usual hazing of the newcomers, as well as old-school military drill sergeants who are "in your face" and demanding, "Drop and give me 20!" at the least provocation.

Advancement through the ranks seems very rapid, but one has to allow for the usual Hollywood time compression device, so it is unlikely quite as nearly instantaneous as the movie makes it seem.

That's a typical style used to show passage of time, and it requires what is called "willing suspension of disbelief" on the part of the audience. If you buy into the story, and are entranced by the concept and the special effects, then you are willing to overlook what seem like incongruities in the timeline.

Asa Butterfield

Asa Butterfield stars as the young hero in Ender's Game
Asa Butterfield stars as the young hero in Ender's Game | Source

The Training and Environment

In addition to the physical training, there are numerous video-game style simulations in which the recruits practice daily. Some of these games have the ability to allow thought control, so that reaction inside the game is as fast as the thought about the action to take.

There is also a physical training game that takes place in a zero-gravity part of the space station. It is sort of like a space-going paintball game, except that a hit temporarily immobilizes the part of the body that is hit, but is apparently painless. The new recruits are somewhat amused by this.

The game strategy is a bit like a cross between paintball and football,played while sailing through a zero-G environment.

Ender's Game Cast of Main Characters

Ender Wiggin
Asa Butterfield
Hyrum Graff
Harrison Ford
Petra Arkanian
Hailee Steinfeld
Valentine Wiggin
Abigail Breslin
Mazer Rackham
Ben Kingsley
Moises Arias
Aramis Knight
Major Gwen Anderson
Viola Davis
Peter Wiggin
Jimmy Pinchack
Sergeant Dap
Nonso Anozie
Fly Molo
Brandon Soo Hoo

Have you heard of any of these actors besides Harrison Ford?

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The Movie Trailer

Special Effects

The special effects in this movie are astounding, from the command display screens to the simulated battle scenes to the zero-G arena.

The transitions between the actors' actions and the simulations are virtually seamless, and it is hard to tell where real acting ends and computer-generated graphics take over. That is the mark of an engaging film, and contributes greatly to that "willing suspension of disbelief" mentioned earlier.

Surprisingly, this is an independent film, not produced by one of the major studios. The production is by a partnership between Oddlot Entertainment, Summit/Lionsgate and Digital Domain 3.0.

Digital Domain, or DD, is responsible for the film's amazing special effects. You can read more about that in detail here.

Other Information

Release Date
November 1, 2013
Sci-Fi Action Thriller
DVD Release Date
February 11, 2014

The End of the Movie

As promised, no spoilers. I won't tell you how it ends.

I will say only this: it is definitely set up for a sequel. That should come as no surprise, since the author of the book on which this movie is based also wrote a 4-part series featuring this character.

It is a very enjoyable movie, and I recommend it--which I was not sure would be the case before I watched it. Memo to self: don't be so hasty to make up your mind about a movie you haven't yet seen!

© 2014 Liz Elias


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