Movie review: “Ender’s Game”

Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford in "Ender's Game."

Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford in “Ender’s Game.”

By Sarah Cooperman/E Pluribus Unum

Like the trajectory of objects in space, the new sci-fi flick “Ender’s Game” is describing the ascent of one actor and the descent of another.

Asa Butterfield, who won rave reviews in “Hugo” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” puts this space opera flick on his capable 13-year-old back and runs with it.  Harrison Ford, on the other hand, growls and grumps his way through his role in this film, apparently e-mailing his performance in.

“Ender’s Game” is really a kid’s fantasy with a bit of an edge.  As written in the young adult book by Orson Scott Card, this is the story of a middle school kid recruited to lead Earth’s defense against the evil E.T. Formics, who have already attacked us once.

Supposedly, kids are picked because they are better able to internalize and process complex data than grown-ups. Anyone who has watched my brother try to figure out how to wash his shirts knows this is foolishness, but OK, it’s sci-fi, right?
Ford is the guy who recruits Ender (originally Andrew). He plays Hyrum Graff with all the subtlety of a head-on crash. He might as well be named Hyram Gruff.  Can you say, “Payday”?

The rest of the supporting cast is just as irrelevant, even Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham, who is horrifying proof that this stupid face tattoo fad is still alive and well in the 25th century.

“Ender’s Game” (rated PG-13) is Butterfield’s to win or lose, and he carries the ball well. His character emerges as an attractive combination of a maverick and a born leader, and demonstrates conscience as well as a bit of a killer instinct, a tough balance to strike.

The special effects are pretty and there’s a twist at the end that is one part satisfying and one part too much foreshadowed.

As space shoot-em-ups go, this one is better than most. That’s because as a young actor, Butterfield is much better than most. Watch his career take off like, well, a rocket.

Sarah’s grade: B-.

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  1. Wayne Sherwood says:

    As a die hard science fiction fan, (Science Fiction is a lifestyle) I will watch just about any SF movie, even ones of the Syfy channel, but I don’t plan to see this one.

    One of the most over used plot in Science Fiction today is the militarization of Earth in the future. Either to fight aliens, or ourselves. One author has even gone so far as to have Humans as virtually useless lifeforms among aliens, only good enough to be soldiers. Basically Galactic grunts. So because of the plot alone I would find it less than appealing. However, I am not in favor of Orson Scott Card.

    As a devout Mormon, card is quite out spoken in his anti gay stance. I have nothing against him being a Mormon, but I don’t plan to add to Card’s income by buying his books or seeing movies based on them. And since Ender’s Game is a series, I figure there are a few more movies based on his books that I will not be seeing.

    On the other hand, how I act and feel will do little to upset the movies success.

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