Ender’s Game – 2 out of 5
When I first saw the trailer for Ender’s Game, I wasn’t sold. I decided this would be one I would pass on spending the small fortune it costs to see a movie in the theaters and just wait till I could see it for free (I wasn’t even going to spend the dollar it cost to rent it from RedBox but I’ll get to that reasoning later). After actually watching it, I don’t regret my decision. In fact, I could have easily waited much longer to see it.
|Sorry, Dr. Jones, you just weren't a high enough selling point.|
I must warn you: Spoilers lay ahead, mate (read that sentence with a pirate accent).
|The look of someone who just took off in a rocket and is questioning if he left the oven on or not.|
In 2136, a young boy named Ender (Asa Butterfield) is picked to head to Battle School (an actual military school, not a cheap video game title) and is set to learn how to command a battle fleet. 50 years prior, Earth was invaded by a bug-like alien race but were, thankfully, driven away by the heroics of pilot Mazer Rackham. Now, the military takes young child with brilliant military minds and teaches them to focus those skills through rigorous game testing. Why do they start them young? Eh, the movie doesn’t really go into that but it’s sorta hinted that it’s a means to get them battle hard at an early age, utilize their imaginations and get them thinking outside of the box that older military leaders are trapped it (although, this plot device is still pointless to me but I’ll get to that later). After getting the attention of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender is taken to a new level and begins training for the ultimate battle against the once-invading alien race. Only Ender is learning that all the games he’s playing in order to learn to be the chosen commander may have dire consequences…
|When the aliens invaded, mankind was using fighter jets against them (one of them|
piloted by Will Smith, no doubt)...
|And fifty years later, we have these. That's fucking progress!|
I’ve never read Ender’s Game and, frankly, I’ve had no interest in reading it due to the fact that the author Orson Scott Card is a nubar. So, when the film came out, I had little to absolutely fuck-all interest in seeing it. In fact, Card’s psychotic beliefs about homosexuality being punishable by law, 9/11 was a good thing to happen to the country and the dozen other crazy things he’s said (which Cracked.com was kind enough to illustrate in list form!), I decided that if I ever watched it, it would have to be for free because I couldn’t see any of my money go to the guy who says fan fiction should never be done…unless he is doing it. However, that being said, I watched the film with as open of a mind as I could have and found just a lackluster, emotionless thrill ride that forgot its thrills.
|Wow, how small is that one recruit?|
|Seriously! Just how tiny is this guy?|
|Sad Harrison Ford is sad.|
|Screw emotion...we got awesome effects!|
|The "Ender eats a brownie" scene was incredible!|
|Like all great military leaders, Ender cries like a bitch the moment something|
|Space travel looks so...comfortable.|
|Now Ender heads to the Boss Level...taking on the Eye of Sauron!|
The reason this reveal did little to thrill me is because Ender’s reckless battle techniques are nothing special other than the fact he is sacrificing the shit out of his fleet because he thinks it’s all a game. Then he goes on to win the war with a tactic that any adult military man could have done and the need to train children and have them do their dirty work is just left to the viewer to interpret their rationale. Honestly, Ender showed nothing special that ultimately justified subjecting children to this and even the way the war is actually fought could have been handled by an older individual. Sure, the military can adapt them to command early and see battles from a different perspective that a kid may have but, ultimately, this dynamic just felt like a pointless plot device. I don’t know if the book goes into more detail and explains that, in the future, adult minds have been melted too badly by cell phones and reality TV to adequately command a fleet but the movie doesn’t really tell you why they need kids for any substantial reason and, in the end, I saw nothing about the whole experience that justified this element. Realistically, it just felt like a bad plot device to try and make this generic sci-fi story feel less cookie-cutter.
|Oh great, it's one of those Gladiator balls from the Mortal Kombat sequel that can|
travel really quickly around the world.
Granted, the film makes some decent points about the morals of war, genocide and how children are being desensitized to violence but when these morals and ideas are pushed aside in favor of “cool looking aliens,” and big, realistic looking spaceships, it’s hard to see this film as anything but a shallow, popcorn sci-fi film. I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on the special effects or CGI in general because I’m not. Special effects are a big part of filmmaking nowadays and I am a big supporter of computer effects. However, just having really great special effects and making your film look like story and character are not as important as making a planet burn up hurts the film. Like I stated before, anytime this movie had moments that should have been monuments to the human spirit, the film wanted to make sure you knew they had killer effects. But did I really expect more from the guy who directed X-men Origins: Wolverine?
|"Wanna see my tramp stamp?"|
Ender’s Game could have been a decent, average sci-fi film for me thanks to great visuals, amazing special effects and great performances. However, the film’s story was so lethargic, I couldn’t invest myself in it and the film feels like having killer special effects is more important for a narrative than human emotion, drama, tension or suspense. Had the film been better, I might have been interested in reading the book by that crackpot Orson Scott Card—aw, who the fuck am I kidding? Even if the film was amazing, I still wouldn’t have spent my time reading his book because there’s no way that psycho is getting any of my money. Was I bias towards the film because of Card's reputation? Maybe but even if I knew nothing about him, I doubt I could have really seen anything more interesting in the film.