Movie Review – Ender’s Game

You may not know this about me, but I am a devoted fan of the science fiction film (and book) genre. I really enjoy a well-crafted sci-fi story. Ender’s Game was first a book that was written by Orson Scott Card in the mid-1980’s. It was an instant classic and is regarded as one of  the (if not the) best science fiction books of the last 50 years. So when I first heard that the book Ender’s Game was being made into a movie, I was ecstatic. Then I heard who would be starring – Harrison Ford, Sir Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis. Sure, most of the main characters would be played by children, but the adults in the cast are legends. I knew I’d be seeing this film as soon as humanly possible.

So that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

Of course, it wasn’t just for me… I went to see the movie for you, too. I wanted to tell you all about it. You’re welcome.

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I’m going to try and leave out any spoilers and just give you the facts, Jack!

The Story –

Okay, so I’ve already told you that the story is a classic. Sure, it wasn’t written by American literary royalty like Fitzgerald, Salinger or King (kidding) – but Card is royalty when it comes to sci-fi. And this is his greatest achievement. The story is thrilling, heartfelt and connects with us even though it takes place in a dangerous and very spacey future. The story also plays with really important themes like just war, the human condition, and what humanity really is. There is a lot more happening in this film (philosophically speaking) than in most other Hollywood blockbusters. The movie moves along at a good pace; it’s not rushed but never drags either. It’s about two hours long but certainly does not feel so. The main characters are developed well, though I would not have minded a little more time with some of the ancillary characters.

The Actors –

I will admit I was a little worried about the all of the child actors it would take to pull this movie off. Lately Hollywood has been releasing a lot of teen action movies that have had adult content wrapped in a Middle School age container. Like the Twilight films or the Hunger Games series. This was not one of those films.

Ender's GameThe adults were all terrific and most importantly (in a sci-fi film), they were completely believable. Viola Davis lends heart to Harrison Ford’s all gruff and business demeanor. Sir Ben Kingsley plays his small but pivotal role perfectly as well.

Asa Butterfield stands out (as he should) among the child actors and does a great job carrying the film as the intelligent outsider Ender Wiggin. His character is complex and the role demanded that Butterfield run the gamut of the emotional spectrum all while growing into his role as a leader in the movie. He played his part wonderfully.

The rest of the cast did their jobs, lending depth and color to the film, and while I would have preferred learning more about them, other viewers may have been dubious about a movie that ran longer than the standard two hours.

Technical “Stuff” –

Ender’s Game must have been a huge undertaking for the artists and designers who were involved in producing the movie. Remember this is a genre film about war in space and much of the movie takes place off the planet. That being said, the producers spared no expense at making this a visual feast for science fiction fans. I came away extremely impressed with the visual effects for two distinct reasons: its realism (nothing looked fake or “photoshopped”), and its grandeur. Visually, it looked really well done.

Overall –

I’m sure you won’t find my overall impressions very surprising, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I will admit that it wasn’t all I hoped it would be, but that probably has more to do with my unrealistic expectations than it does anything to do with the movie. I really enjoyed Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, and I thought Harrison Ford and Viola Davis did a great job as the military “recruiters.” Overall, the movie was a very satisfying sci-fi experience, and I’d happily recommend it to most people. There is some violence, but it’s all of the science fiction variety, and while the movie is PG-13 I don’t think there is anything that a 10 year old or their parents would find questionable.

I highly recommend seeing Ender’s Game, and I would really suggest that you make an effort to see it while it’s in the theater — all of that great visual candy seems wasted on the small screen.


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