Monday, 24 March 2014

Ender's Game

CGI has been both a blessing and a curse for many SF films in recent years. It's been a blessing because it has enabled them to have special effects that could only have been dreamed about years ago. But it's been a curse because too many film makers have relied on it at the expense of good scripts and intelligent storylines. Thankfully, though obviously CGI figures hugely in this film of interstellar war on a grand scale, the characters and storylines have not suffered as a consequence and this is one of the most intelligent, gripping and well told SF films I have seen for a long time.

Based on the novel by controversial SF author Orson Scott Card, the film is set in the aftermath of an abortive invasion of the Earth by an insect-like race called the Formics, who were only narrowly defeated. All of Earth's resources have been focused on preparing us for another attack, especially in recruiting youngsters whose minds are deemed best able to handle the computer-based military hardware required to fight the Formics. We follow ten-year-old Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) as he advances through all the various stages of recruitment and training to enter the vast military machine that has been created. With a ruthlessness verging on the callous, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) thrusts Wiggin to the limits of his abilities, seeing in him one of the best hopes we have to defeat the Formics.

But this is no mere Starship Troopers. There are more complications in what is going on than meets the eye, building up to a satisfyingly stunning conclusion. With some top notch acting, especially amongst the younger cast members, and some amazing special effects, this is a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction film which never once undermines the seriousness of the tale it is telling.

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