War is a two sided conflict that is condemned and rewarded that mostly have been seen through the eyes of adult in films. Certain films have touched upon the subject of killing a child soldier and how it affects children at young age, but rarely any put a child in front and center in war with as much power as in “Ender’s Game”. On the surface “Ender’s Game” is an ambitious film that misses its mark emotionally, but intellectually succeeds where it counts most.
Ender’s Game follows Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind who is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth. The plot is intellectual though restraints itself from being thought provoking. What it provides are questions and explores several possibilities for answers on how far a battle should be taken. One central question that is our main focus is what makes a good leader; lacking compassion seeking only to win no matter how many lives are lost or becoming one with your team forming better solutions in areas the leader has little understanding in. Exploration is always a factor in its established world. War is seen on a much greater devastating level letting kids have a major influence the outcome. It does not shy away showing the hardship with Ender’s psychology being brought to question. Showing the effects how drastic responsibility can affect Ender to the point of being cold and dehumanizing his own spirit. Making matter worse are the adults around them being as divided in seeing them as children over puppets of warfare. Both the adults and kids mindset on war correlate as much as they differ with one another. When it reaches the end it is clear what position the film takes in truly ending all wars avoiding touching upon the complexities of that solution. This same rule can be apply to the rest of the chosen topics suffering from mood swings switching quickly from one position to another.
As a complete film it is intelligent making its dumb moments more noticeable. The biggest offender being why kids are being taught to lead an army is reduce to age and processing data. Simplifying some aspect of the story is fine; however, whenever this film provides a simple response to a question it’s not selling the reasons behind it. Choices like these leaves out a plot where significant key points are loss and a complete understanding of the characters are left out. Important characters relationship are minimized. Characters are large in numbers, but few in holding any weight. No matter how often the film highlights the strong bond between Ender and his sister Valentine emotionally its hold no weight. Only three characters are given any development and only Ender end receives enough become a fleshed character. This universe no matter how many times it states the human race is at stake tells to care about an issue where it did little to garner it. The aliens only make an appearance in the ending and the appearances are slightly foreshadowed. Aside from the alien tactics these aliens never become an established threat. These aliens appeared to be created to metaphor a common enemy much closer than what one might expect.
Asa Butterfield excels in capturing Ender’s spirit, strength, bravery and vulnerability. Effortlessly switching emotional gears from being cold to having a heart when needed to. Creating a tense dynamic with Ford that hits the boiling point in the concluding scenes. Harrison Ford leverages on his grandfatherly gravitas in portraying a man who is convinced that the end he has in mind will justify any means. Sharing a hint of humanity in a man that lost hope years ago. Ben Kingsley hams it up in his small part in very silly manner. Other performances are one dimensional ranging from being the nice sibling, the cruel sibling, the other bully (Moises Arias acting is fine, but his physical height does not help him sell his character), the other nice person, among multiple uninspired characteristics. The film is as much an intelligence experience as it is a blockbuster. CGI brings to the screen thousands of detailed warships in various sizes in the same battle. Like space itself the simulated battles sequences are big in scope visually having a series of blockbuster worthy moments. Groundbreaking the technology is not outstanding it is having hundreds of airships looking convincingly selling the exhilarating battles. Production design is decent with this future setting looking close to modern times, but lacking anything gives itself an identity. As for the film score it is generic. Loud and bombastic music indistinguishable from a trailer for a blockbuster.
Ender’s Game is more thoughtful look at tactical warfare exploring difficult subjects through the often ignore eyes of kids. Missing is any reason to care about the fate of the our own Planet not feeling connected as one should taking away it scope. It brings brains to the dilemma on the extent of war and how should it be taken for anyone protection. Intellectually Ender’s Game is one stimulating experience minus the attachment to take it to heart.