Set far in the future Ender’s Game concerns an upcoming battle between Earth and attacking aliens, the Formics. Earth won the last encounter, but the aliens are becoming worrisome again so they are recruiting children who are good at gaming to train to fight in the upcoming war.
Asa Butterfield (Hugo) is chosen to go to battle school where a snarly Harrison Ford and a sympathetic Viola Davis select him to be a leader in the forthcoming conflict. This part of the movie follows the traditional military training sequences of Hollywood of yore with the tough sergeant and testosterone loaded recruits, even the females. Hailee Steinfeld plays Butterfield’s training friend. Later, as his training advances, Butterfield is mentored by Ben Kingsley. Complete with beautiful Maori face markings, he plays a hero from the last war.
However, now the training and mock battles are fought in zero gravity with the combatants floating around as they shoot each other with laser guns. Apparently the movie was in production hell for a few years, but visually it works, and is impressive most of the time. The special effects are mostly believable too.
Butterfield carries the movie, credible as an adolescent responsible for the future of the world. But (the usual complaint) Ender’s Game is too long and sometimes looks like a video game rather than a movie. And this reviewer is not sure the ending works. However, this is mostly a solid science fiction adventure, which video junkies will embrace fondly.
Rating: three deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.