Reviews

Ender's Game

4

Cue Thames! Sorry, wrong ‘enders

Based on a YA bestseller, this teen-focused sci-fi aims to marry The Hunger Games’ adrenaline rush with brain-teasing philosophical inquiry.

With its shouty boot-camp training sequences and hardened military heroes (Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley with a Maori face tattoo) imparting grim wisdom on how to fight a bug-like alien race looking set to launch another invasion, it also resembles Starship Troopers. Minus, of course, Paul Verhoeven’s preoccupation with sex, nudity and in-yer-face violence.

The other difference is that the coalition of young recruits have been selected for their gaming skills. Here, the war against the Formics (nicknamed ‘buggers’ in Orson Scott Card’s source novel, a term wisely excised here given the author’s outspoken opposition to gay rights…) is conducted in colossal fleets where strategic nous is key.

Talk about a winning geekgasm formula: nerds and misfits are the only ones who can save the world from oblivion.

Top of the cadet heap is Ender Wiggin (Hugo’s Asa Butterfield). “He’s ‘The One’,” Ford’s gruff Colonel Graff tells Viola Davis’ hesitant shrink. The film’s psychological layers firm up as Ender is tested with mind games to coax out his leadership qualities. Along the way, he forms alliances and antagonisms with his fellow “launchies”.

In these early scenes, Ender’s Game hums along on its own gravitational pull, driven by funky combat in the zero-gravity room and Butterfield’s terrific performance as the wunderkind who’s a pawn in a bigger game.

Adapted and directed by X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s Gavin Hood, Ender’s Game brings its own mind tricks into play. What had been buzzing along as a pint-sized Taps becomes far harsher, hurling out intriguing questions about leadership, compassion and the psychic toll of winning at all costs. It’s this injection of complexity that, whatever the icky personal politics of its creator, makes you hope it isn’t game over for Ender after this first round.

Verdict:

Like its hero, Ender’s Game relies on brains more than brute force. An absorbing portrait of Lord Of The Flies-style morality housed in imaginative sci-fi casing.

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Film Details

User Reviews

    • CharsmatcEngma

      Oct 24th 2013, 11:32

      Looks like a good movie but all i hear is people saying how forwarding thinking it was technology wise as a 28 year old book. It had touch screens and the internet, drones etc. Touch screens(Die Hard anyone?) and and the internet are at least 26 years old themselves so it's safe to say they were being worked on while this book was being written so its not so amazing when looked at objectively, and all this tosh about these things are beginning to give me an irrational annoyance towards this movie. That said i'm sure i will enjoy it.

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    • Jareth64

      Oct 24th 2013, 12:17

      One to rent, fo sho'. I'm seeing Captain Philips and Gravity soon so this doesn't pull me in. Plus TF gave Prometheus 4/5, so their sci-fi record isn't all that.

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 24th 2013, 18:39

      Huh honestly the trailers didn't inspire me with much confidence.

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    • Hadouken76

      Oct 24th 2013, 18:41

      If this does well, hopefully it inspire them to do a Mass Effect movie with a DECENT ENDING G-DMN IT. Or Halo. Whatevers closest.

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    • smellyhands

      Oct 25th 2013, 14:17

      @Hadouken, when I saw Elysium I got a big Halo/Mass Effect vibe from the visuals when they reached Elysium.

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 29th 2013, 9:28

      Elysium probably felt a little Halo'ish given how Neil Blomkamp was extremely close to directing a movie adaptation of the series.

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