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Ender's Game


Stars: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, VIola Davis, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Moises Arias, Aramis Knight, Suraj Parthasarathy, Khylin Rhambo, Jimmy Jax Pinchak, Conor Carroll, Nonso Anozie, Tony Mirrcandani

Director: Gavin Hood

A long, long time ago, in a universe far away, Harrison Ford bounded through space as the feisty Han Solo of Star Wars. And if you ever wondered what happened to past-their-best space heroes this less than riveting space opera brings you the answer, with gruff and grizzled former galactic hero Ford reduced to training teenage genius Asa Butterfield and his pals to fight yet another tranche of galactic invaders out to destroy the Earth.

Ender’s Game, uninterestingly scripted by Gavin Hood from the reportedly ‘cult’ novel by Orson Scott Card and directed by Hood using impressive special effects which are almost its sole redeeming feature, has Butterfield recruited to train in Battle School and then lead the fight against alien invaders known as Formics who had almost destroyed Mankind. Now it’s Mankind’s turn to strike back with Butterfield and his fellow recruits training to eliminate the invaders…

What finally emerges is more like the video game the story seems destined to become than a particularly entertaining offering. Yes, the movie magic is impressive enough, but nowadays it is only really worth mentioning special effects if they are sub-standard.

Butterfield does well enough in his clichéd role, Hailie Steinfeld fails to justify the praise she received for True Grit, Viola Davis and Abigail Breslin are bland and unmemorable, Ford is depressing and the only performance of note is delivered, laden with ham and embarrassing attempts at comedy by Ben Kingsley who, his face embroidered with Maori Tattoos, takes swipes at a ludicrous accent that seems to veer from Cape Town to Adelaide and many places in between, and appears to be training for the role of Demon King in a provincial panto. Kingsley has been quoted as saying “There’s so much crap talked about acting”. Here he appears to have been trying to prove that crap acting is also possible.

The best thing about Ender's Game are the end credits, but they appear far too late to save the whole farrago. Only a sequel could be any worse.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Nov 2013