James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After years of planning Orson Scott Card’s beloved science fiction novel, Ender’s Game has finally made it to the big screen. While it didn’t meet the expectations of let’s say Harry Potter, it certainly wasn’t an Eragon.
The film takes place in a distant future where the human race was attacked by an insect like alien race. After mankind won the battle, military leaders feared over another attack and began preparing the next generation for combat. This is how Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) comes to recruit Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) a brilliant and meticulous military strategist teenager. Graff convinces Ender to take the next step in his training and relocate to an international military academy in space to continue his training with a more advanced class of youths.
That was a lot of plot to take in so quickly, which also tends to be one of the first problems I had with the beginning of Ender’s Game. Director Gavin Hood, rarely gives the story time to seep in for the audience that isn’t familiar with the content of the book. There’s too much plot and not enough character development for the whole first half of the film, it is a lot of story to cover in two hours but it could have been spaced out better. Perhaps if they took out one of the three bullies Ender faced, as after a while you begin to roll your eyes at the amount of insecurity that fuels the likes of his brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) and Bonzo (Moises Arias).
Bonzo especially feels like such a one dimensional character who repeats the same bits of laughable dialogue. The dialogue in this film really needed to be revised, it kept pulling me out of the compact story. However as the game went on, it did pick up from where it fumbled in the first half. The story got more engaging as we got deeper into Ender’s psyche. That’s where it should have began; showing us where Ender’s coming from and reveal his frail emotions in the beginning so the audience sees how vulnerable he really is and how much Ender has to grow.
Asa Butterfield plays Ender with precise calculation while hinting at the toll his rapid maturity is having on his life. He almost feels like a human version of Spock from Star Trek. Ben Kingsley is also very good as Mazer, a mysterious military officer who appears through the second half of the film. It almost feels like their performances weren’t pushed further though due to unfit direction and uninspiring screenplay that was also written by Hood.
This series does have potential to be a rare case that gets better with age. If Hood focused more on Ender as a character the story would have been ten times more engaging. Ender’s a character who doesn’t have a childhood, he can’t communicate with people without thinking about how to take them out. I wanted to see more of that in this film. With a stronger writer and director this franchise can go above and beyond. This version did have a good concept about who the enemy really is in war, but we needed to see more of the consequences of choosing to fight in the first place. Hopefully Ender’s next chapter will aim higher for the stars.