“Ender’s Game” Review
A recent trend in Hollywood has been the making of films that center on children and teenagers in extraordinarily strenuous situations. In 2011, the blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, truly brought this concept to the forefront. Movies with this theme raise interesting questions: what is a young person capable of when pushed to limits one can hardly imagine? How far can a young person go when they know their only option besides success is death?
“Ender’s Game” is a science fiction drama based off the critically acclaimed novel by Orson Scott Card. The deceptively complex story takes place in the near future where humans are constantly living in paranoia. Earth has been attacked by an alien species called Formics, and as a result everyone living on the third planet from the sun is constantly staring at the stars. The world has decided that the best way to prepare for a possible second invasion is to raise and train the youngest and brightest minds in the sphere of military strategy.
Harrison Ford plays the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff, and this character’s self-inflicted mission is that he must find “the one” to defeat the Formics. Graff believes his journey of discovery is over when he finds a shy, brilliant and eerily calm boy by the name of Ender Wiggins. Asa Butterfield plays the savior child, and as the plot progresses you see this young boy mature with scary acceleration.
“Ender’s Game” is a story of an adolescent learning to lead and become a man under the pressure of alien invasion. Admittedly, it sounds cheesy and outlandish, but there is a unique depth that makes such a crazy story arc possible. “Ender’s Game” raises dilemmas that are grounded in reality yet magnified in the spotlight of intergalactic war.
While watching the sci-fi action unfold, the audience will be hard-pressed to miss various motifs imprinted into the film. The education in this future society is selective, bringing about the controversial political problem of equal opportunity. An obvious military idea conceptualized in “Ender’s Game” is the draft. These gifted children are essentially forced to go above and beyond what any normal child today would be expected to do. Is it fair? Does the extreme context of planetary destruction make predicting and anticipating a child’s fate valid?
The end of “Ender’s Game” brings about the largest philosophical premise. Do the ends justify the means? Ender Wiggins is blindsided with this question. His intellectual superiority brings about an ending that forces him to question whether his actions have resulted in a just finale.
As many look forward to 2014 and the release of the widely anticipated Hunger-Games-like film “Divergent,” “Ender’s Game” is a similarly themed, yet widely unheralded film that should not be overlooked. “Ender’s Game” uses the innocence of young minds to paint a scary picture of what paranoia can do to human masses. Not only is “Ender’s Game” thought provoking, it’s also widely entertaining and stunningly less childish than one would think.
Stanko Rating: B+