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Ender’s Game Movie Review

Reviewed by on Nov 01, 2013
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews the big sci-fi movie in which tweens and teens save the planet! Read our Ender’s Game review.

By: Lynn Barker

You are a very smart tween and you have big self-doubts. Your older bro and sis did not reach their potential so it’s down to you to be the family success. Oh, and the world has been attacked by giant alien ant-like beings and it’s up to you to lead Earth’s forces against them. No pressure!

Ender directs the battleEnder directs the battle

Be the Best You Can Be

In a not-too-distant future, the Formics, a hostile alien race looking for a new home, have attacked Earth. It’s fifty years later and we have won a war against them but recovery is unsteady. Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and his cohorts are sure the aliens will soon attack again. In prep for that day, he and an international military group are training tweens and teens to lead the new, high tech battle because of their quick minds and ability to multi-task (Hey, you can play a video game and text at the same time.. right?). Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), so far the brightest and best, is taken out of school to join the military. He’s shy but smart and brilliant at strategy against his enemies.

Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) explains the zero gravity roomColonel Graff (Harrison Ford) explains the zero gravity room

Battle School  

At an elite Battle School in an orbiting space station, Ender makes friends and foes. Top cadet Petra (Hailee Steinfeld) is a close friend and Bonzo (Moises Arias), commander of the Salamanders, the most successful unit in the war games, is a serious enemy. Ender is able to beat Bonzo and become top leader at the school but at great emotional cost. Psychologist Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) is worried about his mental stability.

Ender and Bonzo (Moises Arias) clashEnder and Bonzo (Moises Arias) clash

Ender arrives at Battle SchoolEnder arrives at Battle School

Command School

Ender, Petra and other top cadets are promoted to Command School on an asteroid that was a forward base for the Formics during their first attack. There, Ender is trained in wartime strategy by the legendary commander of the war against the Formics,  Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). Ender will have the fate of humanity on his shoulders.

Ender with hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley)Ender with hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley)

The Battle

Using a high tech virtual reality “simulator”, Ender has to lead fellow cadets into virtual battle with the Formics. Sacrificing more troops than he would like, Ender and Earth forces win but.. what has just happened? How real was this battle? Can Ender live with his decisions and is the enemy that bad, that different from us after all?

Ender, Petra and friends in the virtual battle control roomEnder, Petra and friends in the virtual battle control room

Wrapping Up

This movie will make you think “What would I do in Ender’s scary situation?” He has huge moral issues to consider. Ender’s Game is a thinking teen’s story you, your BFFs and the adults in your life could be talking about it for a while.  If you haven’t read the famous novel on which the movie is based, I suggest doing it after seeing the film.

Petra and Ender over lunchPetra and Ender over lunch

A lot of the appeal of Ender’s Game rests on 16-year-old Brit actor Asa Butterfield’s talent and he comes across beautifully as the conflicted tween with the fate of humankind on his shoulders. Asa can play both vulnerable AND commanding equally well and that’s not easy. Harrison Ford, Sir Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis as well as Asa’s fellow teen actors do very solid work in the film but it’s Asa’s movie and he does deliver.

Major Anderson worries about Ender's mindMajor Anderson worries about Ender's mind

If you are into a zero gravity version of laser tag, you will love the early training scenes. If you like virtual reality gaming (like a super futuristic version of Wii) you will really get into the cool effects here but having Ender choreographing a war from a game screen rather than being inside a fighter like Luke Skywalker, kind of distances us from the true urgency of this “save humanity” battle. People are supposedly dying out in space but we only see Ender and his team “directing” them from afar resulting in no big emotional connection. However, Asa pulls off the scene very well, making us feel the insane responsibility and strategic abilities that this weird war requires.

Medallions of the many wargame teamsMedallions of the many wargame teams

Some huge moral issues about the necessity of war are put in our faces throughout the film and the choices Ender makes during and at the end of the story might be controversial and even confusing. When real beings are dying, all our fun games (video, Wii, etc.) become far too real.  Both humans and the Formics are flawed species bent on survival at all costs. Both have overpopulated their planets, wiped out entire races and more. We are more alike than humankind would like to admit. But, as Ender learns, it not only matters that we win against them and survive, it matters HOW we win. Sometimes violence might not be the answer. Especially for the importance of the film to young people, we’ll go 4 stars.

Ender's official cadet pictureEnder's official cadet picture

Ender’s Game Movie Rating: 4

Ender's Game PosterEnder's Game Poster

Ender's Game (PG-13) is in theaters November 1st!