Ender’s Game (2013)
The Earth was ravaged by the Formics, an alien race seemingly determined to destroy humanity. Seventy years later, the people of Earth remain banded together to prevent their own annihilation from this technologically superior alien species. Ender Wiggin, a quiet but brilliant boy, may become the savior of the human race. He is separated from his beloved sister and his terrifying brother and brought to battle school in orbit around earth. He will be tested and honed into an empathetic killer who begins to despise what he does as he learns to fight in hopes of saving Earth and his family.
There’s only one kid on this launch with any brains at all so far, and that’s Ender Wiggin.
Brace yourself for again a graphically stunning looking SF, with a strong beginning, a story that will make you frown your eyebrows and a fairly disappointing end. It’s again based on a book I haven’t read. The good news is, it’s not a very complicated story. It’s not that you’ll be completely lost after a while because you didn’t read the book in which the details are usually described. You’ll notice as the movie progresses that it’s a youth book. I couldn’t get rid of the impression that this was a sort of “Harry Potter in Space“. A magic boy possesses certain qualities that adults have been looking for since a long time. He’s repeatedly called “The One” (an echoing reverberating sound effect wouldn’t be out of place here) and he’s apparently a wet dream of the leader of the cadet school (Harrison Ford). Of course, this little boy is looked at as an emerging hero and hailed for his intelligence that others apparently do not possess cause of a momentary brain disorder. Strange, because after all they also belong to the select group of highly intellectual kids. Well anyway, it leads to resentment, jealousy and hate. But our friend Ender (Asa Butterfield) eventually turns the tide and gathers together a fan base to protect the earth’s population against the oncoming swarm of Formics.
As I said already, this SF is an eye catcher. I bet the “Special Effects” department has spent a lot of money on this one. It looks nice, crispy and flashy. As a SF fan you’ll start to drool for sure. The comparison with recent works such as “Oblivion“, “Elysium” and “Prometheus” is obvious. Even “Gravity” is included when it’s about the images from space with a beautiful planet at the background. I even got flashbacks from earlier films like “Battlestar Galactica“, “Independence Day” and “The Black Hole“. Generally you can say that it looked fine and worked out into perfection. The space battles in both the simulator and the real one, looked pretty impressive. The alien spacecrafts that moved like a flock of starlings was magnificent to see. And indeed, the heroic deed by Mazer Rackham looked like a duplicate of scenes out of “Independence Day“.
The performances were usually excellent. No Oscar material, but nothing that really annoyed me. Asa Butterfield was a convincing Ender. Harrison Ford was a confident Colonel who has no problem with the fact that they actually are training kid soldiers. Viola Davis, the psychologist on board, was a convincing motherly military. And the rest of the little ones did what they had to do : or they were from the beginning an adoring friend of Ender (Petra and Co) or buggers who immediately began to tease him. Moisos Arias was the best example. In Ender’s place, I would have kicked this South American annoying brat into space.
The thing that started to annoy me was the content of the story. Indeed it’s kept simple and rather childish. Initially I don’t have a problem with that. The run-up to the training was fascinating to watch and kept my attention. I just started to question myself about the usefulness of the whole training since later on, they didn’t make much use of it anyway. It looked like a sort of “Quidditch” but then in space suits. And you could also win the game by getting someone of your own team through the opponents gate, instead of throwing a ball through it! It was a pleasure to see the various team members floating around in those glass balls. But that was it. Only some floating around! The idea of those little guys learning a kind of Lasergun teen game and afterwards using real war material to teach those aliens a lesson, kind of felt unreal and surrealistic. The lack of explanation about the relationship between Ender and his brother Peter and sister Valentine was kind of a disappointment. I wanted to know more about that. It would have been interesting material. And as a grand finale Ender suddenly transformed into a Good Samaritan and was outraged about the fact they have lied to him. I thought they were preparing him for this task anyway and that he fully understood that. But no, the little fellow got extremely mad and suddenly he unravels the complete mystery and goes on his last mission as Admiral to accomplish a promise he made. Deep disappointment !
I can only conclude that it’s a visually delightful film. The story is of a childish level, but is actually still a bridge too far for the youngest. But I found the end a huge letdown that screwed up the rest of the movie.