Mania Grade: B-
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- Rated: PG-13
- Cast: Asa Buttefield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley
- Written By: Orson Scott Card (Story) Gavin Hood (Screenplay)
- Directed By: Gavin Hood
- Distributor: Summit Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2013
- Special Features: See Below
Enders Game Blu-Ray Review
The Adaptation of Orson Scott Cards Sci-Fi Novel
By Tim Janson
February 08, 2014
Ender's Game (2013)
© Summit Home Entertainment 2013
Ender’s Game is based upon The Hugo and Nebula award winning Novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. The film is set in the year 2136, fifty years after the Earth was attacked by an alien insectoid race known as the Formics. Earth barely defeated the Formics and since then have been preparing for their return. The International Fleet, created to protect the Earth, is recruiting gifted young people into their “Battle School” to prepare them for the coming onslaught.
Among those recruited by Colonel Hyrum Graff (Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Davis) is Ander “Ender” Wiggin, a brilliant but hot-headed young man who thought he had killed his chances to get into Battle School when he severely beat a bully who had been tormenting him. Ender’s intelligence and ability to strategize quickly gains him the respect of Graff but the dislike of many of his fellow students.
Ender is given command of the formerly defunct Dragon Army where he and his team take part in various training and war games against the school’s other teams, rising swiftly to the top of the ranks. Their skill earns them a trip to a former Formic colony where Earth has established a base. There, Ender and his team simulate Formic attacks over and over to devise the perfect strategy to defeat the bugs. Ender meets Mazer Rackham (Kingsley), the heroic pilot who saved earth fifty years earlier who most of the world thinks perished in the effort. Rackham readies Ender for one last battle simulation where Ender has to utilize all of his skill and resources to achieve victory. Ender, however is unprepared for the final twist in the game.
At the risk of ticking off Sci-Fi fans I have to admit that as I watched Ender’s Game I could not help but think it was essentially Harry Potter in space. A gifted young man, taken from his home to a famous training academy to defeat a powerful foe…Like Hogwarts, the Battle School is even divided into various teams who compete against each other for the school’s top spot. Having not read the novel I don’t know how closely the book follows the original story or if that’s simply the direction that Director Gavin Hood chose.
Ender’s Game skirts the division between hard sci-fi and space opera, not committing to either fully giving it an overall uneven tempo. Hood dwells far too long on Ender’s training so that when we get to the film’s climax it all feels rushed. Little background is provided on the Formics and how exactly the Earth managed to defeat them in the first attack. But despite some of the plot inconsistencies the film still holds your interest due to the strong performances of Asa Butterfield as Ender and Harrison Ford. Butterfield skillfully plays his role as a young man who has to shoulder the fate of the entire world. He openly questions as to why attacking the Formics is so important since they have not returned in fifty years. The interplay between Graff’s gung-ho nature and Major Anderson’s more cautious approach to Ender provide the films best conflict.
The ending sets the table for a sequel and Card has written several novels in the Ender Saga but an average performance at the box office has made the prospect of a sequel uncertain.
The Blu-Ray featured two different audio commentary tracks. One with Director Gavin Hood and the second with Producers Gigi Pritzker and Roberto Orci which discusses why certain plot elements from the book were changed.
Ender's World: The Making of Ender's Game (49:04) – This decent making of features interviews with cast members, behind-the-scenes footage, discussion of the novel, etc…Sadly there is no input from Orson Scott Card.
Deleted Scenes (10:49)
Inside the Mind Games (3:50) – short feature looks at the films use of motions capture effects