Get out your laser pistols and futuristic tablet games, we're reviewing Ender's Game!
In the future, after a battle with an alien race that's killed tens of millions, the International Military is training children to become the next soldiers and commanders. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) believes Ender (Asa Butterfield) might be the soldier who can finally put an end to the alien threat.
First of all, let me just say that Orson Scott Card (the writer of the book on which the movie is based) is an unrelenting bigoted cockweasel and if you've decided to boycott this movie because he's an awful human being that regularly says disgusting things about homosexuals and gives money to anti-gay groups, I can't really blame you. BUT. I think you're fine if you want to see it because: A) He reportedly isn't making any money off the ticket sales beyond what he was already paid; B) The movie does not hold his anti-gay views and flies in the face of them with a general message of acceptance and anti-bullying; C) The studio has gone to huge lengths to separate the movie from the bigot, going so far as to hold a benefit premiere that gave money to pro-LGBT groups; and D) A lot more people worked on this movie other than Card, including a diverse cast of young actors, who frankly NEED the time and opportunity on the big screen. If you're conflicted, maybe read this post about not boycotting.
It's a shame that Orson Scott Card is such a flaming bag of dicks, because Ender’s Game is a really fantastic movie.
I have not read the books, so I can't attest to how accurate this film adaptation is, but I love the story. It almost makes me want to go out and read the book! And if Orson Scott Card wasn't such a bowl of moldy cottage cheese, I probably would go get a copy, because wow. I can see how this is a classic, and how it's influenced so many great sci-fi stories. I don't want to spoil anything but the ending is fantastic and really got me. And it carries such a great message for young people! (And also anti-gay bigots!) This is a story about acceptance, understanding, and what bullying can do to a person. Scratch that, this is a movie that shows what bullying can do to a whole civilization. Ender is always being bullied – by fellow classmates, by fellow cadets, by his own brother, even. And however many times he gets out of it through tactical precision, however many times he learns from it and tries to turn his bullies into friends, it changes him. It gives him this ferocity and anger, and it's a constant fight every day to keep that anger in check so that he doesn't go overboard and do the wrong things for the wrong reasons, so he doesn't BECOME the bully. That's what bullying does to people. Maybe if Orson Scott Card would read his own book, he wouldn't be such a shit-laden asshat.
This is also a story of diversity, as it features all of humanity, working together. And what a diverse cast this is! The only thing I've seen this year with a cast this diverse is Sleepy Hollow. I don't think it passes the Bechdel test, but it goes great lengths in showing a society that has moved past prejudice and is just one big diverse bundle of joy. It's not like Elysium, where there's a group of Latinos, a group of white people, and one black guy; It's so diverse that I barely paid any mind – it was so natural. I want to see that more often, and I don't want to have to watch a sci-fi movie to get it. At one point, one of Ender's friends, Bean (Aramis Knight), tells him "As-salamu alaykum," as a farewell. That's a nice touch, man. We need more diverse actors, especially young ones. I would say stick some gay characters in there just to stick it to Actual Cartoon Parody Villain Orson Scott Card, but since there were exactly zero romantic subplots and it's the future, who's to say the sexuality of anyone? I'd like to believe that their sexual preferences are as diverse as their race.
Speaking of sci-fi, the effects and tech are great! It doesn't give an estimated date of the future but all the tech looks close enough that it isn't out of the realm of possibility that it evolved from the tech we have now. Smooth looking cars, rocket ships, window HUDs, implants embedded into your spine, and individually-issued, nifty iPads. There are a couple of war game battles in zero-G that are really entertaining, and the ship battles are a blast to watch. All the CGI looks spectacular: exploding ships, fancy videogame graphics, and really interesting alien designs. They look strange and realistic! I love costume designs, as well.
As well as being diverse, the cast does a bang up job in their roles. Harrison Ford is exactly the right amount of ornery, Butterfield really pulled out all the stops in the star role, and Ben Kingsley continued his trend of great work. And Viola Davis is great! They all do well in their respective roles, and I want to see these young actors in more roles. The script is good and the story moves along well. I also really like the soundtrack by Steve Jablonsky. He has a weird list of movies including the Transformers franchise, Steamboy, Pain and Gain, Gangster Squad, and Battleship, which I also really liked the soundtrack of. Good on that.
It's misfortunate that people might pass Ender's Game up because Orson Scott Card is a noxious pile of human excrement that was ingested and shat out by the full sequence of the human centipede – because Ender’s Game is a wonderful film. If you can get past hating the awful human being it came from and get behind backing a ton of amazing people who made a movie involving a message of acceptance and understanding, you'll find a pretty great sci-fi epic.
THE GOOD: Diverse and great cast, great future and alien design, great story, great message, great soundtrack.
THE BAD: Orson Scott Card is a shit stain on the human race.
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ Yeah, it's a great movie. I want to give it points off because Orson Scott Card is a nefarious fuck-truck but it's not the movie's, the actors', or anyone's fault that was involved, and I'm sure most of them just wanted to make a great sci-fi movie about learning to be better.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Hunger Games, Dune, John Carter, Gattaca, Blade Runner, Star Trek, Cowboys vs. Aliens
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: It's Ender's first time on a rocket and he's late. A fellow cadet chastises him and makes fun of his name. Ender asks what his name is, then greets him jovially. Ender and Bean soon become friends, as Ender learns how to turn his enemies into allies.