Some go to the movies. Some go to musicals. The audience attending Enders Game will be attending an experience. The film that is hyped-up to be the sci-fi/adventure experience of the year is sure to entertain audiences of all ages. Whether you’re a fanboy of the Orson Scott Card-penned book series, or Harrison Ford in space (who isn’t?), then you’re in for a treat.
Fifty years after Earth was invaded by the Formic race (enemy bugs), the military has enlisted the smartest children in the world to serve as the human race’s only chance at survival. The film follows the brilliant Ender Wiggin, as he journeys through Battle School and eventually Command School, in preparation of a potential Formic invasion.
The strong performances of Asa Butterfield (Ender), Harrison Ford (Colonel Graff), and Ben Kingsley (Mazer Rakham) carry this film. With a storyline that has been repeated time and time again, the quality of the core cast provided unique characters for the audience to connect to.
Measuring the film on pure entertainment value, this outing by director/writer Gavin Hood is a sure weekend box office capital consumer. You want space? Ender Wiggin spends roughly 10 minutes of the 114 minute running time on Earth. I think you’re safe there. You want guns? All of the children in Battle School are equipped with stylistic blasters shaped like hair dryers. You want an epic space battle deciding Earth’s fate? Consider yourself solidified in sci-fi heaven then. After a summer full of apocalypse-impending plot lines, it’s a breath of fresh air when the audience is exposed to a genuine science fiction experience that doesn’t involve the White House blowing to smithereens.
While the film is entertaining, its limitations restrain it from competitive comparisons to the special effects space-saga masterpiece that is Star Wars. It suffered in development hell since the 1980s, and a special effects company surrendering to bankruptcy amidst prime production time had cast a cloud of doubt as to what standard it would live up to. The appealing visuals that accompany Ender’s Game will entice the audience for a decent while, but they only do the film so much justice. There’s an extensive list of films Hood and the studios could make from the series, but the audience won’t attach themselves enough to be devastated if and when a sequel won’t happen. This film can realistically be compared to the efforts of the Percy Jackson or Eragon series. Despite their exuberant budgets, both failed to capitalize on the young adult fan-wave. Ender has potential to surpass the previously mentioned hopefuls, but it remains to be seen if it will create a lasting impression.
The IMAX viewing of this film didn’t bolster its cinematic value. Sure, it was entertaining, but after a while the allure of the glossy futuristic space battle fades away. If you follow the theory that the IMAX/3D experience is capable of acting as a cinematic aesthetic, then the experience needs to entice the audience with an environment that they will find themselves immersed in involuntarily. Although few films have accomplished this feat, I believe the film industry is still far off from accepting IMAX/3D as a credible component of a film’s composition. It was a great effort by Gavin Hood and company, but it pales after something like Gravity.
The official opinion here is if you want to take the family to an out of this world space adventure for all to enjoy, then drop the cash on the standard viewing experience. Everyone will enjoy the film for the space adventure that it is. Those that adore the genre may find the film forgettable after leaving their seats, but won’t feel cheated on their experience. All in all, this film is an experience, and any attempt to deem it worthy of an epic comparison to the space sagas that have preceded it will be a mistake.
Ender’s Game opens today in Philly area theaters.
Author: Kyle Harter
Kyle Harter recently relocated to Philadelphia after receiving his BA in Film from the University of Central Florida. Kyle aspires to a career of filmmaking, writing, and adventure. Kyle has a mild obsession with Quentin Tarantino, coffee, and Corgis. He co-authors the film blog, The Main Squeeze.