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Review: Ender’s Game

My expectations for live action films starring kids (sci-fi or otherwise) are usually pretty low, but with Asa Butterfield (the lead in The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas) and Hailee Steinfeld (the co-lead in True Grit) at the helm, and Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Sir Ben Kingsley for adult support, I had hoped that Ender’s Game might be different.

Based on a novel by controversial author Orson Scott Card, the film takes place 70 years after an alien attack on Earth that was thwarted only by the efforts of Mazer Rackham (Kingsley). In anticipation of the aliens’ return, the military has developed a school, run by harsh-but-fair Colonel Graff (Ford), that will train new leaders to defend against future attacks. With his quick thinking and readiness to take on a fight, Ender Wiggin (Butterfield) may just be the hero they need, but he will have to survive the training first.

Sadly, although the plot is fairly original – exploring the issues surrounding child soldiers on a grand scale – I got the feeling that if I had read the books I might not have minded that many of the major storylines went largely unexplained. The supporting cast are perfectly fine for the most part, and the zero gravity sequences are fun, but it never quite manages to lift off. Some of the set pieces are great, but they feel a little disjointed – each time Ender faces a one challenge, we move straight onto another. And the end, when it comes, has so little fanfare that I wondered if I’d missed it. It almost seems like it is setting itself up for a sequel – all the characters are introduced well, but they don’t actually get to do much.

If you’re a fan of this sort of film, or loved the books, then you may love it. It’s not a bad film, I just felt like it could have been so much better…

114 mins | 12A | October 25 2013
Watched: November 3 2013, Cineworld Chelsea, Screen 3

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