Plot: What’s it about?
Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game took some time to make it to the big screen. I had never read the book, but after viewing the film I get the appeal (Sort of). I must admit that I had zero interest in watching this film when it arrived in theaters last November. I have never been a huge Science Fiction fan and this just didn’t seem like something that would appeal to me. Even with big name stars like Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsly (among others), I simply passed it up After hearing some good things from friends, I decided to do a blind buy (the collectible steel-book packaging helped sway me as well). During one of the features on this disc (more on that later), we learn that one of the reasons for this taking so long to be turned into a motion picture was that the effects needed to be at a point where they could benefit the film. CGI has come a long way since 1985 (the year the novel was released) and the wait was the smart move because this film is very visual and the effects contribute much to the overall look and feel of the story. One of the positives of the film is that it puts emphasis on story before the effects. The effects are nice, but without a story to carry it things would fall apart. The story is fairly simple and straightforward, but it works in the films favor.
Asa Butterfield plays Ender Wiggin (What a name), an introvert and something of an outsider. After he finally decides to stand up to a bully, he’s asked by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) to join his team and fight an alien race known as the Formics. Ender is chosen not because he stood up to the bully, but rather that he continued to kick the bully when he was down to make sure he wouldn’t be picked on again. Graff sees this as insurance that Ender’s goal was to avoid future attacks. After he joins the team we see Ender (as well as others) go through what is essentially basic training on their journey to fighting this alien race. Much of the film is devoted to the training process and preparing for the upcoming battle. When the battle does begin, it consists mostly of Ender standing up looking out and using his hands to control computers and shouting out commands. The film has a lot of build up, but the climax comes and goes before long. At first, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying the film, but I did start to lose my interest in it after a while. The cast does a fine job here. Butterfield is good as Ender, he plays the role carefully where we do root for him. Ford also gives a solid performance here as the colonel. He’s very much like a father figure to Ender and has faith that Ender can carry out the task. Ben Kingsley doesn’t show up until late in the picture and he does an admirable job here. His appearance is strange at first because his face is covered with a strange tattoo, but I got used to it after a while. I think Ender’s Game is worth seeing. I’ll never regard it as a classic, but it held my interest overall. It didn’t exactly light up the Box office last November so I’m not sure if we will get further installments, but it’s a worthy entry.
Video: How’s it look?
Summit has done a fine job with this transfer (2.40:1, AVC encoded). For such a visual film, this is great news, but also shouldn’t be anything less than perfect, really. I didn’t see the film in theaters, but I can’t imagine it looking much better than this. Colors are deep and strong, the print used here is pristine and flesh tones remained even and accurate. Some of the moles and various facial details are nicely presented here. The wrinkles on Ford’s face are also heightened in HD, but that’s OK. After all, the man is over 70 years old and looks better than a lot of men his age. Background shots were also nicely rendered and show strong detail. I noticed a certain yellowish hue in a few scenes, but I feel this was a creative decision, but I wanted to mention it nonetheless. There are a number of darker scenes, but they’re never troublesome. I could spot several reflections on some of the helmets worn by some of the characters here as well. This is a solid transfer that will please fans of the film, no worries here.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Also strong, is the DTS 7.1 HD track. It remained active throughout with strong details given to all the channels. There seemed to always be something going on behind me with lasers blasting, and various other devices. Vocals were clear and solid with dialogue coming through nicely. I noticed a nice kick from the sub-woofer during several of the film’s action sequences. This track serves the film and its effects nicely.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The edition reviewed here is the “Target Exclusive Steel-book”, the packaging is exclusive to them, but the discs included here are otherwise identical to the other editions. In addition to the Blu-ray disc, we also get a DVD copy as well as a digital copy code.
- Audio Commentary – There are two separate tracks here: One with the director Gavin Hood and the other with the producers. There’s a lot of good info across both tracks, much regarding the effects and changes from the book (among other things).
- Deleted Scenes (10:49) – Nothing great here, mostly extended bits. They’re worth watching once. These include optional commentary by the director.
- Ender’s game: The Making of Ender’s Game – This is broken into several parts that detail the various stages of bringing the book to the screen. A lot of ground is covered here and it’s well worth a look.
- Inside the Mind Games – This is a short look at some of motion capture effects.
- Theatrical trailers – Two for the them show up here.