Ender’s Game

It never really gets going, but looks good.

Turning a beloved novel into a film is a dicey project. The built-in audience could either love it or turn on you.

While South African director Gavin Hood’s take on the seminal sci-fi novel is nowhere near as thought-provoking as the book, it does feature a lot of well thought-out details in the set design.

But it really helps if you never read the book. Then it is just the story of a kid who gets made to fight a battle on behalf of adults who don’t quite have his purported brainpower.

Lots of cgi-heavy battles ensue and then he gets upset. Oh, and Harrison Ford brings a touch of gravitas as the battle school principal to counter Ben Kingsley’s tattooed face.

The thing they never say in the film, which is a huge part of the book and actually a deleted scene in the special features, is that the title character, Ender (Asa Butterfield), has the empathy to think like the Formics (the bad aliens), which is why he’s so good. But that if he knew it was not a game, he’d never do it.

The many extras on the Blu-Ray disc show film-makers so obsessed with delving into specific themes around leadership, isolation and how ideas around games and reality are starting to merge with contemporary issues that they forgot the simple story of a boy exploring what it means to have power is what everyone really loved about the book.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Several deleted or extended scenes and several features on The Making of Ender’s Game; and the Cannes Initial Pitch Reel used to get distribution.

The features are everything from how the director and producers got the film to the production stage to how the children learnt to handle the action in the battle room. Post-film production, the creation of the gorgeous set designs and lots of talking heads discussing so many details are the order of the day.

But not a single mention of Orson Scott Card, who wrote the book. – Theresa Smith