Film review: Ender’s Game (6 out of 10)

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a film or how potentially good the cast list is - it just fails to come up trumps.

There’s plenty of great special effects in Ender’s Game and with the likes of Harrison Ford and Sir Ben Kingley you would hope for a cracking movie.

Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game

Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game

Unfortunately, this adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s book by director and writer Gavin Hood (who also has a brief role in the film) just doesn’t cut it.

I haven’t read the book but I can imagine it makes much more sense and flows far better than this big screen version.

Asa Butterfield plays Ender Wiggin, a teenage military recruit who is considered by Colonel Graff (Ford) to be ‘the one’ to wipe out a race of ant-like creatures who attacked our planet and nearly decimated Earth decades before.

The theory is that young people have more adaptable minds that can absorb more information and are great at video games which military tactics appear to have become in the future.

The idea that a teenager could be put in charge of the whole planet’s military resouces, however, is a bit weird and something I failed to come to terms with.

A lot rides on Butterfield’s shoulders but he proved he has the skill in director Martin Scorsese’s movie Hugo (2011). But that was Scorsese.

He does his best, as does Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) as his fellow recruit, but both struggle with a script that needed a good overhaul.

Ford also does a decent job and Kingsley, as another military commander, is also OK, even with his face full of tattoos - however, we will pass quickly over the New Zealand accent.

Much of the movie is watching Ender battle against some inner demons, the strict military mind and some of his fellow recruits who just want to bully him.

At first you think this is just going to be a junior version of the 1997 film Starship Troopers but it quickly moves towards being a glorified computer game.

And then at the end it develops a conscience and we have a rather dramatic plot swerve which, for me, simply doesn’t work.

Again, I expect the book flows far better and readers have a more enjoyable experience.

But the overall impression is that this was a good opportunity that went to waste. Perhaps the most telling point is that I thought the film felt far longer than it actually was!

Film details: Ender’s Game (12A) 114mins

Director: Gavin Hood

Starring: Harrison Ford, Sir Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley