Why Ender's Game is Kinda Awesome

1“Aiming to blend Harry Potter with Star Wars, this big budget Sci-Fi flick falls short of true greatness”

Whilst it seems like Ender’s Game is trying to disguise itself as a complicated movie, it’s actually incredibly simple. One could even go as far as calling it predictable, with my cousin exclaiming “well that was pointless!” at the end of the film. I don’t wholeheartedly agree, as I found the film very enjoyable and the effects were, as can only be expected, superb, but I fully admit that there are many flaws to the film.

The plot of Ender’s Game focuses on the titular character, Ender Wiggin; he is the third child in his family to go through monitoring to see whether he can handle the trip into space to start battle training against aliens. Being the third child in a family is briefly discussed as being “prohibited” unless given permission, but apart from this slight mention it is never explained – something of a pattern throughout the movie.

2Ender is the chosen one; he will bring victory to the human race.

It has to be said Asa Butterfield has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as this is absolutely his film. He is in almost every scene and is required to show a range of emotions, which I think on the whole he manages successfully. He is a likeable empathetic character that the audience can easily relate to. It’s the rest of the characters that are sadly lacking; in fact in most cases you could erase any of the characters from the plot and the audience wouldn’t even notice. Many of the characters have no defining characteristics or personalities and most, including Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin, are criminally underused. Then you have Harrison Ford, who is basically playing himself. There is no hint of the cocky Han Solo in his Colonel Graff: he is grumpy, emotionless and obsessed with defeating the enemy.

3Ford’s Colonel Graff only has eyes for the advancement of Ender Wiggin

Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis are small exceptions as Mazer Rackham and Major Gwen Anderson respectively. Kingsley has a perfected New Zealand accent and a tattooed face, making him more noticeable than most, but again he is not used to his greatest potential – in fact he doesn’t appear until well into the second half of the movie. Apart from Ender himself, Viola Davis is probably the most human character. A woman in a world of men, she still sees the children as children and not objects to drill and control. But as is a pattern in the film, she is an element that works well but is quickly left to one side.

The enemy in this film are the Formics, an alien species who travelled to earth to start a colony, and in the process wiped out millions of humans. They were defeated and pushed back to their own planet by Mazer Rackham (Kingsley). 50 years later Colonel Graff and his superiors are training the smartest children in battle school to find the one who will lead them to victory in destroying the aliens for good. These training sequences are definitely the best in the film.

4The Game room is where the competition really started.

The students are divided into teams and each team lives together, trains together and ultimately battles the other teams together. It is here that the audience discovers why Ender is so highly regarded – his tactical skills in the game room are thrilling. When Ender is given his own team the plot steps up a notch, though only a notch – as previously mentioned, Director Gavin Hood never lingers on an idea long enough for the audience to become invested.    

5Ender was set up to be isolated from his team mates, to keep him focused.

One of the best features of the film are the sets, both real and CGI. They are stunning and truly place you in the world Hood has created. The effects are flawless but I feel it is the same argument that crops up in modern cinema: with great effects comes a disregard for the story. The story is skin deep, and with one plot twist that can only provide the audience with disappointment in its direction, it is with little awe that we leave the cinema.

The film could potentially be set up for a sequel, and, as we know with Hollywood, if something works then why stop there. It would be no great surprise to hear that Ender Wiggin will be returning to the big screen. With its lack of depth I think it will be more successful with younger viewers, though it is no less watchable for adults – at least, for one sit through.

This was Mary for The Awesome Update.

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