Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review Ender's Game (2013)

genre: science fiction, action



There seems to be much hype about Ender's Game and I was curious if this was warranted. To an extent I can understand the appeal. As a movie lover and a big fan of Science Fiction however I have to be somewhat critical. Ender's game offers a decent tale where subtly some themes will pass through that may or may not lead to moral or philosophical discussion . Like children being molded to super soldiers. Or human's inability to find alternatives and instead prefer destruction. Also very important, free will. These are very good subjects on their own. In the context of the movie however it is somewhat lacking to get the point across. The film concentrates on the kids training and Ender evolving as THE ONE. Honestly after The Matrix that is a plot device that loses it's effectiveness on me. It doesn't help that they repeat telling how special he is. I get it, show us why he is so special instead of saying it all the time. And here is where I am not convinced. Asa Butterfield does his very best to make Ender a compelling character only apart from a few scenes and events this simply does not happen. Obligatory scenes where it is shown how brilliant his killer's instinct is, felt very tame and does not differ much from other similar teen movies where they get challenged. In fact it looked like scenes where basically any one could rise to the occasion. From the brief interactions between the team members and Ender you sort of get it that the members want to follow him. It would have been nice though to show the real difference in approach of the kids following him as opposed the other one. That guy was such a caricature that you were never meant to take him seriously. Did they show any of his strategic insight so that you could compare that to Ender? No, and that is lazy writing at best. Then there are some action sequences that look nice visually speaking but despite felt lackluster very quickly and weren't exactly engaging or spectacular. Director Gavin Hood fails to make these scenes look truly spectacular. I should have known better after having seen that dreadful The Wolverine. You need a director who understands the importance of spectacle and style in combination with good story and characterization. And Gavin Hood is not that guy.

Do I think Ender's game is worth your time?  Well, as a franchise it shows promise since some of the subjects that are touched upon are very interesting and I would like to have them explored more in later parts. The ending definitely hooked me in enough to see what is coming. So yes, Ender's game is decent enough. But be aware it is never epic or grand as it is promised.


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