Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley
Running time: 114 minutes
The production of Ender's Game has been fraught with controversy, all thanks to the sci-fi classic's author Orson Scott Card. Over the past two decades, Card's carved out a reputation as being an outspoken homophobe, even going so far as to press for state laws banning homosexual behavior because "those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society." Debates on whether artists should be separated from their work took over film blogs, as LGBT organizations and individual supporters petitioned to boycott the movie.
Which makes it hard to admit that despite how controversial Card is, director Gavin Hood's take on the film is awesome. Everyone involved in the film has spent their entire press tour fielding questions about Card's views, and proudly asserting that this movie in no way reflects his bigotry. And they're right.
Ender's Game is underdog story about a wunderkind who get recruited to lead an army of child soldiers against the threat of an alien species. Asa Butterfield plays Ender, the leader who who must overcome bullies, separation from his family and life on Earth, and the orders of a hard-nosed captain (played by Harrison Ford), a gruff mother who treats him like a strict football dad banking on his kid getting drafted. Hailee Steinfeld comes in, however superficially, as Petra, Ender's first friend, mentor, and the kind of girl to keep his heart warm despite the hardening demands of the job. The film isn't pushing an anti-gay agenda. Playing with themes like compassion, teamwork, and courage, it's a formulaic kids movie that'll have its younger viewers, ages 8 to old-enough-to-grow-peach-fuzz, excited to reenact scenes with a team of friends, much like Star Wars or even The Sandlot probably inspired in you. For those past puberty, don't expect it to rock your whole world, but it's not a bad way to spend a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon.
If you find yourself debating whether or not to see the movie, or tell people you saw the movie, we've got you covered: Here are six reasons why you shouldn't feel like an ass for enjoying Ender's Game.
1. Asa Butterfield plays Ender, the hero, with the red hot intensity of a thousand suns. He may have the spindly body of a praying mantis, but dude's got gumption. In 7th grade, this would've been inspiring.
2. You're not alone in feeling like Ender's awesome Dragon Army is a futuristic Mighty Ducks. Dragons fly together?
3. You finally have justification for playing endless hours of Call of Duty. Just tell your mom you're working on strategy and problem solving...in case you're recruited by the military for a top-tier position.
4. You can learn a thing or two about being a decent person. For one, instead of beating up bullies, just become so damn bawse that they have no choice but to literally salute you.
5. And number two, it teaches you to have a healthy dose of mistrust in your leaders, while maintaining your sensitive side. You know, so you won't turn into a ruthless war criminal.
6. At the end of the day, no one is going to peg you as a bigot for liking a movie that promotes the kind of values that would've made Mr. Rogers proud.
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
[GIFs via BabyBoyWinchester, The Quick Glove, EndersAnsible, Libawr, and EndersGameGifs]