Come now, Ender. It's impolite to stare.
So, before we get into things, did you know that Orson Scott Card is a homophobic racist? Just saying.
Ender's Game, directed by the same idiot that brought you X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is certainly no slouch in the special effects over substance department. Nor in the absurdity department, for that matter. It's a movie about the sort of future where Earth is attacked by evil ant aliens and the best solution is to draft a bunch of child soldiers to use the skills they've honed playing video games to unknowingly commit genocide. Is this sounding just peachy so far?
The sole compliment to be awarded to this movie is its marginally above average quality of special effects. I guess it's a sad day when this is the best that can be said of a movie, but here we are. Anyway, I'm pretty serious, because unless you're a video game addict whose wet dream is to actually live in a video game, the fun stops after the trailers end, and you're left to have your brain try to escape your skull through any available orifice. You'd probably find more substance and philosophical discourse in the comments section of a YouTube video.
It's sort of like a rash that won't stop spreading. More and more, movies are choosing to forego engaging the audience in an interesting world or captivating them by virtue of a solid narrative. Instead, recent blockbusters are content on delivering CGI after CGI after CGI, and then doing more of the same. Ender's Game actually goes where no man (okay, sorry, I mean no one, even though there's only the one token female character throughout the movie...) has gone before, going so far as to render some scenes completely in CGI, including the actors. Maybe the director thought that doing this would give him a better chance of getting the twerp who plays Ender to move some of the muscles on his face.
Speaking of Ender, the character has the misfortune of being played by Asa Butterfield, who rivals even Jake Lloyd in terms of stiffness and the ability to walk around with the same fucking expression for the entire movie. The only thing the former has going for him is his bizarre ability to cause his eyes to water at will – something which the camera just loves to linger upon. Maybe it's some kind of metaphor about life having emerged from water, or something to do with innocence as seen through the eyes of a child, or maybe it's Asa Butterfield's physiological reaction to the shitfest that is this movie. I'm not really sure, and I don't particularly care. Anyway, when Ender isn't running about trying to philosophize about the strategy of war, he's trying to fuck Ensign Tiger Lilly and stay ahead of Captain Boss Child. But as it turns out, Captain Boss Child is an incompetent moron whose unbeatable Space Quidditch streak conveniently falls apart as soon as Ender so much as breathes his way, and then things heat up as Captain Boss Child ends up in the infirmary after losing a fight to the guy approximately seven stories taller than himself. Ensign Tiger Lilly rushes to console Ender, assuring him that everyone knows Captain Boss Child was actually the provocateur, and that it was his own fault that he ended up with a broken neck. Shortly after, Captain Boss Child is shuttled back to Earth, and moments later, none of these plot points ever come up again.
By this point in the movie, Colonel Hyrum Graff has become so impressed with Ender's psychopathic levels of violence that he decides to hand him control of Earth's entire military fleet. I don't know, but something about it just seems kind of off, you know? On the one hand, you've got these genius kids who are able to make split-second decisions about the nuances of 3D skeet shooting, and on the other, you've got military veterans wary of entrusting a bunch of nerds with such overwhelming responsibility. Never does it occur to anyone that intelligence is a thing not of age, such that, for the intents and purposes of the movie, Ender could still be at the helm, while Harrison Ford could still make some key tactical decisions. Accordingly, the movie goes a long way towards intentionally creating a large intellect gap between Ender and his adult peers to avoid this. Apparently, pointing a giant death cannon at a target the size of a planet–OH WAIT–is a strategy only the savant of a generation could possibly conjure, and so the moral implications have a convenient route towards Ender. The whole thing just reeks of contrivance.
Oh yeah, also, Ben Kingsley is in this, for whatever reason. He looks a bit like Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace, and has a major attitude problem. Given his 10 minute inclusion, with particular emphasis towards its being near the end of the movie, I'm left wondering if he just needed a paycheck, or decided he wasn't done making cameos in terrible movies. At the rate he's going, the queen might soon be forced to revoke his knighthood.
And I'm not done yet. You can disregard all of what's been previously said in terms of criticizing this movie, and still be able to label it as the single shittiest endeavor of 2013. I hate to retcon my previous choice for the worst movie of 2013 so soon, but the illogicality of Ender's Game is fucking MIND-BLOWING. Work with me, here: the necessarily brilliant race of space bugs (necessarily so by virtue of having achieved long-distance space travel), whose planet is in dire need of water, decides to attack Earth, because they are apparently so hard pressed. So far so good, right? WRONG. Water is among the most common molecular compounds in existence. That these space bugs decided to try to extract from the one planet capable of defending itself is only stupid, but that they didn't simply choose some other planet as an arbitrary alternative is just absurd – there are literally billions of other options in the Milky Way, but for contrivance's sake, the ant people had to pick the one planet housing the one boy who'd make the one play to slaughter their entire species.
But it's okay. Ender is a good person, you guys! He's going to atone for his sins by committing treason and attempting to repopulate the species that tried to murder his entire kind. No biggie. Unless it means there's going to be a sequel. OH NO–