Ender’s Game (PG-13)

7 Stars

You know the Johnny-Come-Lately that snorts at cringeworthy moments, or criticizes plot points he deems unsound?

That’s me during the first half of Lender’s Flame; being a total douche, and not resisting the urge to speak. My buddy deserves an apology.

Perhaps it was the lack of coffee lending me susceptible to the hypocritical fit. But to be fair, there are some seriously weak cogs in this mechanism.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they reused the set from Xenon: Girl of the Twenty First Century.

And I feel bad for Harrison Ford.

I don’t like bandwagons. No matter who’s piloting the rig, I try to avoid jumping on. But Harry’s left me no choice.

He doesn’t record the lines for Lego Han Solo, and now this? To call his performance unconvincing would be generous.

My opinion’s never changed so dramatically halfway through a film.

The first portion deserves a little less than three stars, but the second half is almost a fiver. Thereby positing this film just short of greatness.

My main problem with Blender’s Shame is the acting. The performances are almost all underwhelming.

Some are bad. Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin doesn’t deliver a poor performance, but it’s nothing to shake a stick at. He’s okay I guess. Perhaps that’s a function of how his character is written. Fun the actor’s name matches the greatness of his character’s, though.

The two best parts of this film (besides a certain reveal) are Nonso Anozie and Ben Kingsley. Both turn in solid performances as inventive compelling characters.

What the film lacks in thespianism it makes up for in smart, original storytelling.

During even the clunkiest of moments, the shining rays of intelligent narrative peek through the cringeworthy canopy.

Finally, the CGI is exceptional. See this film if you’re into this kind of thing, and can swallow some scoffs.

Now onto some spoilers.

At first, I thumbed my nose at the video of Mazer Rackham attacking the alien’s mothership. Thought it was just a jet fighter versus organic extraterrestrial millennium falcons in a storm cloud.

But boy was I wrong. And that’s only one of two fantastic reveals.

One thing I really liked was the humanistic nature of the future. So often in science fiction, the world is dystopian, or at least ‘the man’ is just as brutal as ever. The idea that Ender is able to go back to Earth to visit his sister, Valentine, feels right to me. When Petra asks if she can stay with Ender while he’s unconscious, I appreciate Colonel Graff’s response.

(Perhaps that’s why ol’ Harry Ford doesn’t work; maybe some menace would’ve done the trick.)

There are painful moments in Ender’s Game. Almost every greatness is ruined by the following odd character interaction, an off-putting acting performance or cliché.

The Islamic reference is a complete non-sequitur; painful whether it was shoved into the film’s plot or not.

I find everything inside the zero-gravity playground dull, and never feel like there’s anything at stake. I’m getting furious thinking about how poorly these scenes are executed. You have no concept of who is winning or losing, or the reasons why, at any point during the freeze pistol games.

So nobody’s tried that rope trick in the entire history of the floaty cube olympics? The last five seconds are good, but jarringly odd, and then that plot element is gone.

For most of the movie, Ender actually sits by himself at lunch.

When Ben Kingsley shows up, everything gets way better. And I love the time spent interacting with the ‘mind game.’

I would have loved if it ended, and everyone still shunned him at lunchtime.

But in all seriousness, how about that ending? Duped into genocide? Good stuff!

At that moment, I’m shackled to purchasing a ticket to the sequel.

Pretty soon old men will lament the loss of sound content in narrative.

“That another one of those conflabbed Hunger Endgames?”

You crazy kids and your space gladiators.

Thoughts, perchance?

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