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Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Ender's Game Is Thought Provoking

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Why War? Why unnecessary death? How do we know what the enemy is thinking? Ender's Game poses these questions and many more about war. Our Iraqs. Just what and whom did we destroy besides one of the great art museums of the Middle East. All the people. The children. Why? Why can't we communicate?

Ender's Game, based on the best selling novel by Orson Scott Card, is about training a boy to lead our troops composed of children into battle in a near future space age war. Humanity is being threatened to the point of extinction by an alien race. Harrison Ford, who is his usually competent self, is the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff. Asa Butterfield, last seen as Scorcese's Hugo, magnificently portrays Ender Wiggen.

A shy but brilliant boy, Ender can strategize with the best of them and is pulled out of school to attend the elite Battle School. Ender, who is being tested and turned into an empathetic killer, quickly masters increasingly difficult war games and soon is chosen to be the next great warrior for humanity by Colonel Graff and promoted to Command School.

We never know what the enemy wants. Our best trained child warriors cannot ask questions. They are just trained to kill. Like drones. Sitting at machines preparing to kill the enemy, the Formics, who have ravaged earth. The legendary heroics of international Fleet Commander Mazar Rackham (Ben Kingsley) prevented all from being lost in the last battle. Kingsley, with a tattooed face, is meant to be menacing and efficient in his role. His performance is a kind of exclamation point of military at its most formidable and most ludicrous.

Water is mentioned as a reason for the enemy to be after our planet. We're taught to be afraid of them, to hate them, to want to eradicate them.

Viola Davis is Major Andersen and assists Colonel Graff but as with all of her well chosen characters, she has a fierce independent streak and disobeys her Colonel when she sees fit. Abigail Breslin plays Ender's sister in a part too small for her talent. No longer the child from Little Miss Sunshine, she has grown up into a beauty. One hopes her maturity does not impede her career and she is not forced to do a Miley Cyrus to get better roles. Hailee Steinfeld, as a fellow soldier, befriends Ender and they have a winning relationship as they support each other flying through space. The direction by Gavin Hood is spellbinding and while the special effects work, the music is too obvious and the usual ploy of an IMAX Sci-fi film to lay it on thick.

As to the plot, it is about the indoctrination of children being taught to fear and to hate by the military, but they can't question their superiors. Never question. Just kill. War games are a way of life. Always told they are games, not real. Training. Until one day...

Enders Games poses real questions in a make believe IMAX world. These questions are important and thought provoking. But, please, with such a serious message, why do we have the stereotypical Sci-fi monster that we've seen so many times before that we feel he is our neighbor instead of an Alien.