Science Fiction, much like horror in the past decade or so, is seeing a kind of second coming. It’s hard to pin down when it started (it might have been District 9) but in the past year or two the sheer number of sci-fi films to be released not only by independent filmmakers but by major studios is astounding. And with Gravity sweeping up statues at this year’s Oscars, the genre doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. One of the most underseen and underrated sci-fi films of the past year is Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game, out now on Blu-ray.
When an alien race called the Formics almost destroyed Earth, the remaining population decided they could never let it happen again. Seventy years later, Earth has implemented a program to find young children who may possess the skills and tactical brilliance to win should the Formics ever return to finish what they started. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) has been singled out by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) as the one person who may have the abilities to save the planet. But as Ender enters the training program and quickly rises up the ranks, he questions his own emotions and wonders what the price will be to be the chosen one.
Unlike many other sci fi films, Ender’s Game is actually quite intimate and contained. The majority of the movie takes place on a single space station and the story is almost more of a character study than anything else. But mixed in with that study are brilliantly executed action scenes as Ender is trained in tactics and strategy. Butterfield is just amazing here as he conveys Ender’s enthusiasm and doubt as he progresses in his training. After his incredible performance in last year’s Hugo Butterfield has more than proved himself an exceptional actor. Ford is also great here in a gritty supporting role that seems tailor made for him and really played to his strengths. The rest of the supporting cast all stepped up to the plate as well including Ben Kingsley, Haylee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Viola Davis. Ender’s Game is smartly written and entertaining, engaging, thought provoking and emotional sci fi at its very best.
The Blu-ray from eOne Films is stunning and takes full advantage of the Blu-ray format. With deep blacks in the space scenes and razor sharp clarity and detail, Ender’s Game is one of the best looking discs of the year so far. The soundtrack is also of note for its active rear channels and booming low end. Ender’s Game underperformed at the box office and that is a shame as it may mean we may never see the other books in the series come to life on the big screen but don’t let the numbers keep you away, Ender’s Game is one of the best sci-fi films out there. Highly recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.