Ender's Game
Three Stars (out of five)
2013. Released by Universal Home Video. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13 for combat violence. This film has closed captions. The special features include a commentary, and extended scenes. This was reviewed on DVD on February 12, 2014.

Just trust me, Ender, I was taught how to shoot by Jeff Bridges. Orson Scott Cardís Enderís Game is considered to be a classic science fiction novel, one that was long regarded as being unfilmable, thanks to the fact that the majority of the story takes place within the head of its main character, a boy named Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield, from Hugo). Ender is chosen to attend the prestigious Battle School, an orbital installation that trains its young cadets for the rigors of space warfare. They will need all the training they can get, because theyíre facing an alien race known as the Formics. Earth first met this race during a nasty encounter when the Formics invaded the planet, wiping out millions of humans.

And the string section comes up...right now! The Formicsí invasion was stopped only through the heroic actions of Mazer Rackham, a fighter pilot who flew his aircraft directly into the Formicsí mother ship. This action not only destroyed the mother ship, but it also stopped the invasion cold, as all of the alien fighters--slaved to a hive mentality--ceased working. This epic battle took place several decades ago, but Earth is still wary of another visit by the Formics, hence the creation of the Battle School, and far-ranging space fleet thatís designed to bring the war to the enemy before they return again.

Boy this place is really...sharp.... Gavin Hood, who also directed the pretty bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine, does a much better job here bringing Cardís novel to life. The film is visually stunning, and the effects depicting the Battle School are very impressive; as are the effects scenes for the final test at the end of the film. The only problem is that the characters themselves feel very flat. Harrison Fordís Colonel Graff, the headmaster of the Battle School, comes off as being very one dimensional as he keeps expounding about how Ender is The One.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope. Hailee Seinfeld, who was great in the True Grit remake, isnít given much to do here as Enderís fellow Battle School classmate, other than to give advice on how to shoot in zero gravity and look confused in front of a computer console. The film still touches on the thoughtful themes of the original story, like how far does a society must go to achieve total security, but the movie feels too slight as it just gives lip service to these ideas before chugging along to the next big effects scene. While Enderís Game is far from being a terrible movie, it could have been so much more than it is. --SF

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