ENDER'S GAME (2013) : REVIEW
November 8, 2013
"What does it matter if there's nothing left at all?"
Cheesy trailer filled with kids wearing tight spandex and fish-tank-like helmets running around shooting and floating in what, battleships? Spaceships? And oh, there's Harrison Ford, and Ben Kingsley, and that kid from Hugo, what was his name again? And it was an adaptation from Orgon Scott Card's 1985 novel which was, unfortunately, I've never heard of. And it was written and directed by X-Men Origins : Wolverine's Gavin Hood, whom (sorry) I have bad judgement on. So there you go, reasons why I set my expectation low (except for Kingsley and Ford). But, how did it turn out?
Took place in future Earth, 50 years after the mass invasion from outerspace aliens known as Formics, which was successfully fought off under the lead of the legendary Maori-tattoeed veteran hero named Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), who also discovered the weakness off the insect-looking aliens. To prevent the future war, a Battle School was formed; a school where they trained the best and smartest human children to fight and command, in order to function the Earth's International Fleed against the Formics. Picture the Battle School as military slash boarding school, with the touch of futuristic juvie located in a spaceship on Earth's orbit, led by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and his partner Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis). They were in search for the next Mazer Rackham, which was profoundly found in Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a 15-year-old boy who had sides of violence from his brother and compassion from his sister, which was decided as the fittest aspects for a person to lead. But, Ender had struggles on his own, while still trying to be the best hope Earth had ever had. Would he make it?
Why children? I could never get to know why. Colonel Graff did explain it couple times, saying that children had this leaps of logic and certain intuitions that adults didn't, but why? Why robbed their childhood for an event that wasn't even believed to be happening? The thing about the movie itself was that it was lacking of explanations, lacking of backgrounds, like it didn't want us (especially those who didn't read the book) to understand, to have empathy towards it (speaking of compassion that was being brought up over and over again, which was an irony, because the movie itself was lacking hearts). The storyline was, idk .. floaty? Blant? Shallow? There was no grip, like everything was just thrown at us like asteroids, not giving us the slightest chance to understand, or at least trying to. Especially the fact that the entire 114 minutes story was placed on Ender's shoes but I couldn't seem to get into his head, like there was no emotions flowing. I get that the whole things were just to explain the essence of "It's not about winning; it's about how we win it." (which was FINALLY shown in the final act), but still, it didn't meet the heart or the brain, just pleasant there in the eyes, keeping us stayed still during the entire performances, thanks to the advanced CGI and whole-other-levels of sci-fi techs. Another thing, though the final battle was epic, with endearing and colorful visual and depth (Though I couldn't say that the Battle Room was that epic, why? Because I'm suffering from Post Cuaron's Gravity. And the no-3D lessen it more), I couldn't feel the threat, like they were there just rehearsing for something that wasn't even showing its nose, just an old history that was being repeated million and million times.
Asa definitely owned the characters; that extremely skinny and tall body, with careful and vulnerable demeanors and the thoughtful blue eyes with so much sadness, and how he stand tall with strength, bravery and intimidation, so much of a commanding voice. The fact that he was burdened with so much hopes on his shoulder but yet he chose to lead, he chose to be the best of himself, which was daring. Thought it wasn't his fault that his character was lacking feedbacks and judgements towards how Battle School operated, but man, this kid was good. Ford and Davis were the epicentrum of the story, as one was putting too much pride and hopes and, one was too emotional and lacking of belief, which was a fine mixture. Kingsley character was unconvincing, underdeveloped and far too brief, which made him looked like an extra, not giving means at all. Abigail Breslin's Valentine was just a passing by, with no further explanations on how close her relationship with his brother was and why. The side characters such as Petra (Hailee Steinfeld), Bonzo (Moises Arias), Bean (Aramis Knight), Alai (Suraj Partha), and Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) were underdeveloped as well, looking more like chess pieces which were all overshadowed by Asa's commanding voice.
"When I understand my enemy well enough to defeat him, in that moment, I also love him." Part of that saying is true, because I didn't understand Ender's Game enough that I couldn't love it. It was a fun watch, but that was it. Still, don't miss it. AT EASE!