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‘Ender’s Game’

by Kaori Shoji

The sense of wide-eyed wonder and hopefulness that characterized Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” is mostly absent in this adaptation, replaced by a knowing, slick competence. Very little rings true, despite Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis delivering super-serious performances in extreme close-up.

Ender's Game (Ender no Game)
Rating
Director Gavin Hood
Language English

In a distant future, Earth is at war with aliens. Decades earlier, the Formics had launched an attack that would have annihilated mankind completely if not for the heroics of International Fleet Cdr. Rackham (Kingsley). In a preemptive move to deter the Formics, the International Military, led by Col. Graff (Ford) and Maj. Anderson (Davis), plucks 14-year-old genius gamer Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) out of school to train him as an elite soldier.

Perhaps director Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) is fashioning Ender’s story to reflect the jaded times in which we live.Going through the book again, I realized there’s a certain innocence permeating every crucial scene — despite the sci-fi trappings and violent theme, Ender’s gaze is cast on a world untainted by the Iran-Contra affair, 9/11, attacks on nonexistent arsenals of mass destruction. The future as depicted in 1985 seems both antiquated and blinding. In 2014, it’s basically business as usual.