Ender’s Game (2013)

end12016.33: Enders Game (Network Airing, HD)

Youngsters playing videogames save humanity from Alien menace.

Well, thats essentially it. The youngsters think they are playing a videogame simulating an attack on alien planet, when its actually really happening. They win the game, annihilating the aliens, only to find out -gosh!- that gigantic space armada in the game was the real thing obeying their instructions. Yes, whenever they lost ships hundreds of real people got killed but, hey, they won the game! Earth is saved!

This film really is that stupid. I mean, you have the fate of humanity at stake. You have a vast armada of huge battleships and attack fighters, thousands of military personnel. And you have an orbiting school for ‘gifted’ teens to find a kid to put in charge of the bloody lot. I don’t mean ‘gifted’ as per special powers such as the mutants of X-Men or super-intellects. I mean a bunch of teens who maybe passed their GCSEs a bit early. It’s utterly insane.

Incredulous, I watched this film convinced there would be a twist (other than that final painful one- literally game over, kid, you won the war-that left a huge WTF expression on my face that lingered for hours) but there isn’t one. Unless, well, I guess I could mention the painful coda/twist that suggests that, even though they attacked Earth fifty years ago, the aliens might not have been quite so evil after all so our teen hero has to fly off to make amends. I mean, what?

When the best thing about a film is its excessive CGI and green screen there is something rather wrong. It starts a little like The Hunger Games, reluctant teen becomes hero (in this case, it’s a male rather than a female) but it is a pale shadow of that series. I’ve read that the film is based on a series of books written by Orson Scott Card but I can only hope that most of the best material was lost in the screenplay, because the film does the book/s no favours at all. They ploughed $100 million into this turkey- I can in no way fathom what they saw in the screenplay that merited that kind of attention and outlay. Sure, teen-angst adventures were all the rage post-Harry Potter and Hunger Games but really, this tedious film is really poor and wide of the mark.

And anyone surprised/impressed that Harrison Ford thought the script for Blade Runner 2 was one of the very best he’d read and so good he subsequently signed up to star in it, well, its time to be rather worried. If Ford thought Ender’s Game was worthy of him, then really we need to be very cautious about BR2. I swear he looks half-asleep in much of this. What was he thinking (i.e. how much was his pay packet)? Whatever it was, he returns the favour with one of his worst performances that I have ever seen. I’ve seen better performances by trees, he’s that wooden.

It’s a harrowing film. Avoid.



8 thoughts on “Ender’s Game (2013)

  1. I actually rather enjoyed this. Well, some of it. The first act is poor, and so is the last one, but the middle… well, the middle has some bad bit, but it grew on me, and I liked all the stuff in the giant glass training ball room place.

    …yeah, it’s not a good film. Yet despite knowing that, I still came away from it fairly positively, at the time.

    1. When I was watching it, it immediately seemed better than I had feared (the production design and execution is very good) but it lacked any surprises. Reluctant kiddie hero initially the odd one out gradually wins over his school mates and saves the day. It just gets worse as it progresses. And Ford is really very poor, which annoyed me.

      I’m a big fan of Ford, he’s been an onscreen hero of mine for so many decades but stuff like Blade Runner and Witness seem so long ago now. The man can act but isn’t even trying here. Surely if he’s only making one film a year he can choose better than this.

      1. I always feel like, aside from Indy 4, Ford basically retired in the early ’00s… but no, he worked, it’s just his choices were so poor I’ve ignored the movies. No wonder he’s been happy to jump back into Star Wars / Blade Runner / Indy 5 — even if they’re not good, at least people will care!

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    I didn’t hate it either. I went in with low expectations, and was impressed by some things – it was surprisingly vicious in places, and the reveal at the end (even though I’d been spoiled on that) had a punch. And the design was good.

    I didn’t even mind Ford. I haven’t been keeping track of his acting, as he’s not someone I go to see a film because they were in it. But he did his tired and worried thing pretty well – as a warm up to his old-Han-Solo turn.

    I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but it was OK.

    1. But its so stupid. And it has such an oddly none-ending that’s obviously intent on a sequel. Yeah the production design was good and the effects too (then again, it had $100 million spent on it) but I was so surprised, considering it was based on a book, that it was so lacking in structure and content. Maybe much of the book was dropped. So much wasn’t really explained; the state of the world post-Alien attack. How such a vast armada could be financed/built. How the military could give up supervision of that armada to a kid. A kid. It’d make more sense to give it over to a super-AI than a troubled kid. Likewise I never really understood that whole family-unit thing, with his abusive brother and a relationship with a sister that bordered on incestuous. Actually, writing that makes it sound much more interesting than it really was. I just don’t understand how films like this get greenlit with such an impressive budget, when so many other films never get off the ground.

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        Yeah, but you have to look at it in context: it’s a kids film made for kids. Isn’t the book itself YA fiction?
        So it’s not going to worry too much about realistic detail, it’ll focus on the kids themselves and their stories and emotions.
        The ending (or epilogue, really) was weak, but again you can’t have a YA story end with your lead responsible for genocide and just leave it there.

  3. I think that was my prime dislike with the film, it being part of this trend of teen-fiction heroes on our screens. I know they are aimed at a different generation to me, but they are stretching credibility. Particularly in this with vast armadas at the hands of kids. Its funny, but I do think a perfect opportunity to do a proper Logans Run (oldest cast member 21) may have been missed.

    Much prefer the old days of middle-aged or even twenty-something heroes. Its no conicidence so many of my favourite films date back to the 1970s and films like Jaws or Alien or Superman and actors/actresses who looked to have lived a little. Bad enough they all look so perfect now without them being quite so young. Must be middle age on my part taking its toll.

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