ASA BUTTERFIELD   HARRISON FORD   VIOLA DAVIS   ABILGAIL BRESLIN   BEN KINGSLEY   HAILEE STINFELD

ENDERS GAME

 ​“The world's smartest children are our greatest hope." After hearing that in the trailer, I must admit Enders Game, based on Orson Scott card’s book of the same name, seemed anything but appealing. The casting of Ford, Davis and Kinsgley made me curious, however, and then the whole film erupted in scandal upon release and was pretty much written off due to the author's personal opinions. Still, Ender’s Game certainly rises above even most science fiction films geared towards adult only viewers. There is a great moral conflict for the main character; he is tragically flawed and never sure if he is on the side of good or evil and I really respected that in a leading character.

 ​The future of the world’s war and defense system looks more like a video game. In fact, the army begins training children at a very young age with video games to test various abilities. Ender Wiggin (Butterfield) has caught the attention of Colonel Graff (Ford), who has the final say in who advances in the program to become the army’s commanding officer. Ender’s brother was rejected for training school and now Ender bares the burden of being the second choice from his family. Ender, along with other high ranking officials, believe he will be unable to lead. Graff is adamant that “this is the one” and will let no one stand in the way of his choice--not even Ender himself.

 ​The turning point of the film, for me, was a scene in the testing facility (much like X-Men’s danger room) where Ender once again disregards an order he is given only to once again prevail and display his higher reasoning skills. Butterfield, whom you might remember as the sad little thief in Hugo, once again gets to work with co-star Kingsley. The film has an underlying message about bullying that I think is subtle enough not to come across as a campaign, yet should be a powerful message to young adults and parents looking for talking points.

 ​I think our theaters are plagued with films that fail to inspire audiences, especially younger viewers. Ender’s Game is one of the few films without animation that I have seen delivering a solid message in the least cheesy manner. Director Gavin Hood (X-Men: Origins Wolverine, Rendition) easily makes this film more accessible and interesting than the failed After Earth, and it has a far more reaching effect than Cruise’s Oblivion. There are still the laughable lines thrown in for the 8-13 crowd, but it’s still a fairly suspenseful ride with some scenes of great tension between David and Ford, Butterfield and Kings of Summer’s Moises Arias.

 Final Thought – Surprisingly good for a film based on a young adult science fiction novel.

 Grade B-

By: Dustin Chase