Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 21, 2014

‘Ender’s Game’ a fantastic adventure despite associated problems

DVD Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — There is certainly no question as to whether a book can be adapted into a well-received film franchise, with multiple successes in the past couple of decades alone. However, one peculiar development is the stumbling that has taken place when it comes to at least recent adaptations of the teenage or children focused manuscripts.

Granted, much of these appear to be trying to capture the same lightning in the bottle that was the annoyingly angsty “Twilight” series, but it’s kind of a bummer when it happens to what is actually not a badly written adventure. One of the most tragic things about today’s subject is that it is enjoyable and fresh enough to carry a successful franchise, despite a lackluster box office performance and the book’s original author being a homophobic jerkwad. Still, that shouldn’t discourage one from seeing “Ender’s Game,” a science fiction dystopian future that cleverly comments on man’s obsession to gain victory no matter the cost.

Set 50 years after a major alien invasion on earth, the citizens have continued to prepare for war again despite a highly celebrated victory over their enemy, the Formics. One of the strategies against the insect-like creatures, which could have very well help inspire the successful “Hunger Games” franchise, uses the training of young kids through war games to create strategically smart soldiers.

One such candidate, Ender (Asa Butterfield), catches the eye of highly ranked Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) after his defeat and later arse kicking of a fellow cadet. Convinced the kid has the potential to be the force that helps the humans find an edge to put away the enemy once and for all, he has him sent onward to be made ready for a final conflict. Throughout we are presented with his engaging trials and with the help of another high ranking official, Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis), the very ethical questions that come with using youth in combat.

It’s basically a futuristic presentation of something that’s taken place in our own history over and over and it is hard not to hate the society that would allow it to be a reality. One can even start to feel a bit sorry for the so called enemy, and I wonder if that had been expanded on, if it would have made it strong enough to prevail better at the box office.

Even being another could have been franchise; I recommend it for the space fan club crowd for at least being an entertaining couple of hours. It’s something I could watch again and actually makes me consider at least reading the book series if for nothing than to see where else the characters go. Once the final round is played, it earns “Ender’s Game” four out of five invasions.

DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.