Ender’s Game is a modern-day equivalent of a war movie. Where John Wayne used to battle the ‘red menace’ with gay abandon in various films, the human race now has to conquer aliens. This enables the script to side-step any question of political incorrectness with Hollywood knowing not to offend any potential money-making territory. Based on Orson Scott Card’s book series, Ender’s Game envelopes itself in an aura of techno-wizardry as the struggle for humanity’s survival commences.
For decades, Earth has been under attack from an evil race called the Formics. Pounding the populace with their superior technology, it seems the end of civilisation is nigh. Refusing to give in, military chief Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) enlists the services of skilled teenager Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield). Versed in the ways of brinkmanship, his talents are put to good use as he aims to crush the enemy into submission.
Like any good science fiction tale Ender’s Game uses real-world issues to spin its yarn. The way children and young adults are raised on computer games and how others manipulate this is seen. Wiggin’s abilities are a boon for an army keen on utilising any weapon. How his strategic eye is exploited is interestingly conveyed. The way each tactical manoeuvre is handled together with his growing achievements is shot with flair by Director Gavin Hood.
Despite the controversy caused by its author’s comments, the intricate plot is reasonably developed. Whilst some elements don’t work, such as Wiggin’s connection with the aliens, his development into a natural leader maintains attention. Butterfield embodies his role well with Ford’s convincing portrayal of a soldier adept at pushing his charges and keeping secrets. The pacing suffers slightly from too many combat simulation sequences although issues regarding bullying and self-esteem provide it with edge.
War films will never go out of flavour no matter the era. Ender’s Game features a multitude of battles sure to please die-hard enthusiasts. Fans of the book series should be pleased with an adaptation steeped war mythology without glorifying it.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7
Ender’s Game opens in cinemas on 5 December 2013