|ENDER'S GAME (director/writer: Gavin Hood; screenwriter: based on the novel by Orson Scott Card; cinematographer: Donald M. McAlpine; editors: Zach Staenberg/Lee Smith; music: Steve Jablonsky; cast: Harrison Ford (Colonel Graff), Asa Butterfield (Ender Wiggin), Hailee Steinfeld (Petra Arkanian), Viola Davis (Major Gwen Anderson), Abigail Breslin (Valentine Wiggin), Ben Kingsley (Mazer Rackham), Moises Arias (Bonzo Madrid), Aramis Knight (Bean), Suraj Parthasarathy (Alai), Khylin Rhambo (Dink Meeker), Jimmy Jax Pinchak (Peter Wiggin), Conor Carroll (Bernard), Nonso Anozie (Sergeant Dap), Tony Mirrcandani (Admiral Chjamrajnager); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Gigi Pritzker/Linda McDonough/Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/Robert Chartoff/Lynn Hendee/Orson Scott Card/Ed Ulbrich; Summit Entertainment; 2013)|
|"Might have worked as a
clever thought-provoking read, on film it's a drag."
by Dennis Schwartz
dull, shallow and humorless big-budget message Star
Wars like futuristic fantasy sci-fi war film. It takes
itself too seriously, as it highhandedly preaches
throughout against bullying, tolerance for nerds, an
international morality code to impede militaristic
governments and for world leaders to have a strategy
in place for not only winning a war but winning the
peace. It's based on the best-selling 1985 sci-fi novel by the
Scott Card, a Mormon right-wing extremist, who in
public presented himself as a homophobic by railing
against same-sex marriages. Though the pop culture
video game novel might have worked as a clever
thought-provoking read, on film it's a drag. The
faithful but sterile adaptation by director-writer Gavin
Hood ("A Reasonable Man"/"Tsotsi"/"Rendition")
slickly lays out the pic as a high school kid's
fantasy adventure story.
set in the unspecified future, at a time of population
control, after a surprise attack fifty years ago on
Earth by the Formics--large uncommunicative insect-like
extraterrestrials. The attack was repelled
only because of the brilliant strategy of the
legendary international Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), who used the Formics'
weakness to best advantage. But the creatures left
the Earth fearing another attack would destroy them
and they might not have another great Fleet Commander
to save them.
war hero Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and his psychologist
underling Major Anderson (Viola Davis) run
an elite military school for young student gamers.
They believe only the Earth's youth can save their
military run despotic world, as they are looking for
another Mazer Rackham. They act as teachers recruiting
potential warriors and preparing the chosen youth to
be hardened to lead the charge against an enemy that
can only be loved after defeated.
Ender's Game depicts a
tragic world savior, duped into doing evil thinking
while thinking he's doing good. He's tragically
used by the powers as a military weapon.
It needlessly points out we
are in deep shit if we allow the military to do our
thinking. Nevertheless, at the same time, it tells us
without our military might we might not endure.
Leaving us in the end on our own to ponder an
ambiguous war policy conundrum.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2013 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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