McCoy on Movies: Ender’s Game

McCoy on Movies: Ender’s Game

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“Excuse me miss – Do you mind if I say something rude so we can make people laugh at your potential expense?” Petra (Hailee Steinfeld, center), focuses as Mazer Rackham (Sir Ben Kingsley) and Ender (Asa Buttefield) look on with intense focus in a scene from writer/director Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel ENDER’S GAMECredit: © 2013 Summit Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:




KEY CAST MEMBERS: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Moises Arias, Aramis Knight and Sir Ben Kinglsey 
WRITER(S): Gavin Hood (screenplay); Orson Scott Card (novel on which the film is based) 
DIRECTOR(S): Gavin Hood
60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS: Based upon the novel by extremely controversial author Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew Ender Wiggin, a child with a distinct family lineage. You see, Ender is the third and youngest child in his family which includes his brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) and sister, Valentine (Abigail Breslin). Both Peter and Valentine were enlisted in a program created by the International Fleet Academy (IFA), headed by Colonel Hyram Graff (Harrison Ford) to fight the Formics, an ant-like species of aliens who nearly wiped out earth 50 years in battle.

Determining that children have the best tactical minds, the IFA has been looking for the perfect child to lead them to victory in the event the Formics return to stage one more final battle. And Ender appears to be the godsend Graf and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) hoped that the hero of the first war, Mazer Rackham (Sir Ben Kingsley) would inspire to lead earth to victory.

But can Ender – who faces pressure at home and from his über-competitive classmates – truly be the one to save mankind? Only time will tell once he is challenged to play the most important game of his life.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: People who enjoy sci-fi movies involving savior-type figures, people who like films with good pacing and an intriguing mix of characters, those who fully commit to the idea of the world existing in the state it does in the film, Harrison Ford fans, defenders of Card’s political/social views who wish to support him 
WHO WON’T LIKE THIS FILM?: GLBT people and GBLT-supporters who detest all of the things Card has said in relation to gay marriage (among other subjects), people who find some of the changes/alterations/deletions from the book improper, those who find Ford a bit over-the-top and/or the story a little too predictable due to overt foreshadowing.
BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Not taking Card’s controversy and subsequent profit margins – coupled with an ending that might seem ironic in retrospect given those views – into account, Ender’s Game is entertaining and features a solid performance from Asa Butterfield that establishes his ability to carry a film from start to finish.
WHAT’S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT?: Ender’s Game works as it sticks to the basics of what helps compose a good sci-fi film: [1] An intriguing lead character who is complex than one might originally be led to believe, [2] solid acting by the actor in said role to bring the character to life and [3][ a story that is accessible yet doesn’t feel as stale as it could without the first two factors. Director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) does a nice job at creating a world where the visuals are eye-popping enough to play well against the dystopian mood, revealing the development of Ender’s skills and the supporting characters well before building to its climax. There are no wasted moments in the film, each builds well upon the one before it and you never find yourself second-guessing scenarios as they play out on screen.

Of course, while Ford is the biggest name draw in the show, the film could not work without a strong showing by the film’s young cast; Butterfield delivers a solid effort in a performance not marked by exuding a strong presence, but rather in its subtlety, calm and confidence … In portraying a character trying to find a way to master all three of those traits. It’s a really a commendable effort by Butterfield, who in appearing to do so little (trust that he’s doing a LOT in reality) makes Ender’s story feel natural and intriguing to watch. Butterfield takes on just about every classic element of conflict in the film -– man vs. man with Ford and Knight, man vs. nature with Formics planet, man vs. society with the rules in training and his own home planet of earth and man vs. fate with his own destiny not to mention his character’s own internal conflict – and hits each tenet well. While Hood and Card set him up well, it’s up to Butterfield to make it work, which he does extremely well.

Those factors make Ender’s Game a solid journey worthy of playing.

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):