Starring Harrison Ford as veteran Military Commander Colonel Graft, and the young Asa Butterfield as the films antagonist Ender Wiggin, the film is the ultimate mash-up between The Hunger Games and Call of Duty, but set in outer space.
The Formics, a distant alien race, have attacked Earth previously. Last time the Earth just survived thanks to the heroics of their military chief Mazer Rackham (Sir Ben Kingsley). They know, however, it is just a matter of time before they attack again.
The belief amongst the Earths military hierarchy is that the planets survival rests in the hands of the young, therefore they set out to train the best and brightest to lead the Earth into the impending battle of survival.
Ender (Butterfield), a young, highly intelligent but somewhat quiet young man, is pin-pointed early on by Colonel Graft (Ford) as being “The One“. Graft sets out to test Ender of his capacity to lead through various means, including various quick promotions through the training ranks, and clashing him against his fellow pupils.
Ender’s Game presents a finely tuned mix of brutality and intelligence in a highly engaging sci-fi world. Teenagers are put through their paces in tactical training, but are then asked to compete against one another in a survival of the fittest type mode as to who could potentially lead the planet into battle.
Ender is constantly put through the ringer both physically and mentally. His highly charged clash with Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias), the squadron commander, highlights the demands on recruits to succeed. When they finally come face to face in an exchange, the end result is fatal.
Ender’s moral dilemma, faced by all of his fellow child prodigies, revolves around one question: can people so young really be expected to go out and destroy an entire race? Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis), the military’s resident psychiatrist, shows her concern throughout – highlighted through Ender’s behaviour and reaction to his conflict with Bonzo.
Hood has not just pieced together your typical modern day sci-fi flick. It runs far deeper than a war film set in space. It has the brutality of war, albeit it in its own unique form, but also has something else: a conscience.
Despite what seems to be a rather rushed ending, Ender’s Game has the depth needed to make it better than your bog-standard sci-fi film. The performance of Asa Butterfield is one of many positives in what is the surprise package of the year so far.