by Eric D. Snider
Released: November 1, 2013
Easily the most popular book ever written about naked young boys playing laser tag in space, Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" has been a sci-fi mainstay since its first publication in 1985. Since it took 28 years to get it to the big screen, the fact that the end result feels rushed and hasty probably qualifies as irony.
Not in terms of production value, mind you. Adapted and directed by Gavin Hood ("Tsotsi," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), this "Ender's Game" is about as slick a spectacle as fans could have hoped for, blending futuristic wonderment with recognizable human behavior. The zero-gravity capture-the-flag games are convincing (and fun), and the various spacecraft involved are rendered with crispness and clarity. This sucker was obviously not just slapped together.
It's the storytelling that feels hurried. In the future, some 50 years after an insectoid race of aliens attacked Earth and killed millions, our hero, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), is one of many pre-teen boys (and a few girls) who have enlisted in the international military academy. The training facilities are on a space station orbiting the Earth, and the technology is advanced, but otherwise it's not much different from a prep school or a Hogwarts.
Before the movie even starts, overseers Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) and Maj. Anderson (Viola Davis) have detected great potential in Ender. In a matter of minutes, they've determined that his willingness to keep kicking an already-defeated bully is evidence of his suitability for military command. Shortly after that, they're fast-tracking him for battle training. Graff goes out of his way to praise Ender's intelligence and skill in front of the other kids so they'll resent and challenge him.
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Rated PG-13, moderate violence
1 hr., 54 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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