Ender’s Underrated Game


I started this blog precisely for films such as Ender’s Game. I remember when this film came out and the reviews were mixed at best, so I gave it a miss knowing that I would eventually catch it on DVD or something. It turns out that something was Netflix.

My wife described Ender’s Game as ‘cheesy’ and ‘weird’, but I think I would simply say that it is geeky. And by geeky I mean relatively complicated. I had to watch this film twice is quick succession simply to come to grips with it and to the film’s credit the four hours or so flew by. But that’s the problem, not everyone will be stupid enough to watch this film twice in one day or have the patience to give this film the time and consideration it deserves.

Ender’s Game is essentially a story about an alien invasion which the human race managed to overcome. Ever since that invasion, mankind has been preparing its children to face the same threat (aliens known as the Formics) – basically creating army camps for children.

Ender’s Game hits similar tones to more successful films such as The Hunger Games and has echoes of genre classics such as Starship Troopers but the film is weighed down by its own seriousness and this is both a good and bad thing. Its bad because the film never feels fun enough for a casual audience to truly fall in love with it and it’s a good thing because the world it builds is dense, complicated and wonderful to explore after many viewings.

Asa Butterfield in absolutely sensational as the lead character, Ender Wiggin. He manages to appear both freakishly wise beyond his age while also remaining very child-like. To be fair, the young actors never let themselves down in this film – Ender’s Game never suffers the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ curse. But I am afraid it is the seasoned and celebrated veterans such as Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley that leave a lot to be desired.

While Ford and Kingsley are absolute legends, they brought no emotional weight to this film whatsoever – I simply did not care about their characters. Kingsley’s Mazer Rackhman is supposed to be a legendary pilot in the film’s world and yet his character and his performance is very underwhelming – in fact, come to think of it, he does nothing of note in the film.

So why watch the film? Well, despite the older cast members, everything else is worth your consideration. The film asks a lot of very interesting questions, such as: Is it morally right to ask our children to fight our wars? And questions like: Is it right to wipe out a whole race of beings if it meant humanity’s survival?

I think these are interesting questions and the film doesn’t hide from exploring themes that arise from these quandaries. It also certainly doesn’t give audiences any easy answers and I applaud it for being a brave but flawed film.




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