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Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a shy, strategically brilliant boy who has been chosen to leave home and join the elite Military. The International Military only recruit and train the very best young adults to defend Earth from the hostile alien race called the Formics. As Ender excels at Battle School, he attracts the attention of the highly esteemed Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), who believes Ender to be the military's next great hope. Ender must lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and the human race.

Review by Louise Keller:
Don't let the title or the inclusion of the word 'game' fool you - Enders Game is a biting morality tale with themes of power, manipulation, child soldiers and genocide. Based on Orson Scott Card's military sci-fi novel, the film is brilliantly brought to the screen by South African director Gavin Hood who marries fantasy, visual effects and drama in one ultra smooth and spectacular sweep. The story is about war games and how the world's smartest children are selected for their exceptional and intuitive skills to train for a future invasion against an alien species called the Formics. We become caught up in the hero's journey and the crescendo of emotion that builds up as the protagonist Ender (Asa Butterfield) is recruited for his exceptional tactical strategic and manipulation abilities is palpable.

Hood's superb screenplay quickly sets up the premise and immediately involves us in the highly disciplined world of Ender Wiggins as he tries out for the military programme. Unlike his 'too compassionate' sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin, lovely) and 'too violent' psycho brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak), Ender (the third child despite Earth's two-child policy) is the ideal candidate as leader, aspiring to win not only today's battle but to ensure future attacks are stopped.

Butterfield is perfectly cast - he is slight in build with a sensitive, intelligent face and vulnerable look. But there is nothing wimpy about him and his highly intuitive smarts stand him in good stead in defending himself against bullies and showing the exceptional abilities that recruiter Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) notices. This is Ford's best role in ages; Graff displays sheer callousness with his win-at-any-cost philosophy as he puts Ender through the paces. Viola Davis is effective too, as the psychologist with a heart. Ben Kingsley is an interesting casting choice and is striking with a face of tribal markings. The cast is hand picked - the physicality of their appearance impacts beyond their excellent performances.

The film builds up naturally as Ender's responses to rejection, bullying and frustration are observed by Graff. The scene in which Ender's own emotional state is reflected in a mind-game designed to show his mindset and in which he appears together with Valentine and Peter is chilling. Like an early scene in which Ender deftly deals with a bully at Battle School boot camp, the shower room scene in which a sadistic superior confronts him is one that stays front of mine. But there are many such potent moments.

Visually, the film is dazzling and the sequences in which the child soldiers enter the zero gravity space are breathtaking. Sean Haworth and Ben Procter's production design is superb and each and every member of the endless visual effects department is deserving of mention. Aussie Donald McAlpine's cinematography beautifully captures both the spectacle and the drama, allowing us a front row seat in what is a powerful, disturbing and thrilling experience. Unforgettable.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfield, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, Moises Arias,

PRODUCER: Orson Scott Card, Robert Chartoff, Lynn Hendee, Alex Kurtzman, Linda McDonough, Roberto Orci, Gigi Pritzker, Ed Ulbrich

DIRECTOR: Gavin Hood


EDITOR: Lee Smith, Zach Staenberg

MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sean Haworth, Ben Procter

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 5, 2013

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