Gavin Hood's ENDER'S GAME
Movie review by Dennis McDonald
The first half of ENDER’S GAME plays like every “raw recruit boot camp” movie you’ve ever seen, punctuated by sequences about paintball in zero gravity. It’s all gloriously photographed and the director and actor playing young Ender do their best to distance the audience emotionally from Ender himself. Whether this is “true to the book” or not I don’t know. I gave up trying to read it years ago despite my lifelong devotion to science-fiction.
The last half of the movie is a bit of an improvement over the first. We get to move from the orbiting paintball facility to an alien planet abandoned long ago by the alien enemy against whom all the young recruits have been training. Ender spends part of his time playing mind control video games while a new character played by Sir Ben Kingsley enters the scene. We also learn a major secret hidden from us and the recruits, a secret that will be critical in the final scenes.
The production values and CGI quality of this movie are so high I got the impression that character development and storyline sophistication were deliberately shortchanged in order to emphasize eye candy. And eye candy we get; the Blu-ray version I watched on a 50 inch plasma screen was stunning. One additional downer: the music is completely unmemorable. I guess when you have so much eye candy flying around you can forgive bland music, right?
Finally, Halee Steinfeld is woefully misused and underused in this movie. Anyone who saw her fantastic performance in the Coen Brothers TRUE GRIT will understand what I mean.
Come to think of it, I think she probably would’ve done better in the lead role. But that would’ve been a different movie. Maybe in the sequel?
Review copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald