‘Enders’ Game’ delivers action, heart and brains

Ender (Asa Butterfield, left) has plenty of challenges to face, and Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) is there to make sure they're as difficult as possible in "Ender's Game." (Courtesy photo)

Ender (Asa Butterfield, left) has plenty of challenges to face, and Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) is there to make sure they’re as difficult as possible in “Ender’s Game.” (Courtesy photo)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

In the “Ender’s Game” universe, an enemy from outer space has already tried to wipe out humanity. That attempt was repelled, but how long before the next attack?

Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) is dedicated to keeping mankind safe. If that includes training children to be killers, so be it. The greater good will be served.

Ender (Asa Butterfield) is a young genius and a whiz at video games. He’s also a nice guy who always tries the nonviolent approach first. But when faced with a persistent bully, Ender will do whatever it takes to win that fight and all the fights to come.

Graff thinks Ender might be the one to lead humanity into battle against the Formics, an alien race apparently evolved from bugs.

Ender goes to Battle School for graduate lessons in tactics and dealing with bullies. This time, it’s Bonzo (Moises Arias), a young but hardened battle commander who misjudges Ender’s abilities.

Ender has his allies, too. His sister, Valentine (Abigail Breslin), is the moral compass who helps him see beyond his ruthless nature.

Petra (Hailee Steinfeld) teaches him some of the finer points of Battle School, and when Ender gets his own command of misfits, they’re willing to do anything for him.

Maj. Anderson (Viola Davis) is concerned about Ender’s long-term mental health, but Graff and Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) are focused on bringing out the killer they know lives inside Ender.

The themes in “Ender’s Game” echo our country’s struggles since Sept. 11, 2001. That’s amazing when you think the book that inspired the novel was released in 1985.

Gavin Hood directed the movie and adapted Orson Scott Card’s book, turning it into a well-paced adventure story with heart and brains.

Hood owes Butterfield more than gratitude because the movie hinges on the actor’s ability to present Ender as a good guy with a likable nature living side-by-side with a ferocious spirit.

“Ender’s Game” is powerful stuff and beautifully made. I give it an A minus.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Click video to hear audio