If there’s a tween series of novels, you can bet Hollywood will try to adapt it. Twilight, The Hunger Games and, to a way lesser extent, Percy Jackson have all hit theaters after having a succesful run on paper. Up next, the 1985 novel Ender’s Game gets its chance to jump from the page to the big screen with a star-studded cast including Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Hugo’s Asa Butterfield. Ender’s Game has Earth once again on the brink of extinction after an alien invasion. The best and brightest children are recruited into special battle squads to take on the alien insect invaders after a rigorous boot camp. Ender (Butterfield) is seen as the chosen one by a gruff Colonel (Ford) to help defend the human race with his brilliant mind and cut throat attitude.
Where to start with all the problems I had with Ender’s Game? First off, I felt as if I was watching a whole bunch of scenes from others movies that pulled it off much better than Ender’s Game. The aliens in Ender’s Game are insects that are comparable to the bugs in Starship Troopers. The kids recruits play simulated video games just like the 80s classic The Last Starfighter. Finally we get kids thrown into dangerous situations by our government just like in The Hunger Games or the equally crappy After Earth. Ender’s Game seems like a generic mash-up of quality movies with an end result that’s uninspired and boring for most of the second hour.
I’m sure I will upset many fanboys with my biggest problem with Ender’s Game. It wasn’t the Nickelodeon quality acting from the usually reliable Hailee Steinfield and Abigail Breslin. It wasn’t the poor casting choice of Asa Butterfield who comes across more wimpy and whiny rather than heroic. It wasn’t even the lackluster effects that paled in comparison to Gravity that bothered me the most. It was Harrison Ford.
Ford has not been able to transition gracefully into more senior roles. Ford seems to be playing the tired old man character in all his roles over the past five years and Ender’s Game is no different. Actors like Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood gained a second life on-screen after the age of sixty. Ford has struggled with this and it doesn’t help that he has to share screen time in Ender’s Game with Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley who are two fantastic actors. Ford seems to have fallen and he can’t seem to get up… or at least until the new Star Wars films get here. Overall, I give Ender’s Game 2 out of 4 Potatoes.
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