Ender's Game Blu-ray Review
The pace is high, the tension is strong and the performances are excellent, all within an effects extravaganza
Ender's Game Blu-ray Review
What do you get when you add superior strategically thinking children, intergalactic war, aliens, sibling rivalry and manipulative adults? Ender’s Game.Based on the bestselling and award winning novel of the same name, Ender’s Game, from X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood, tells the story of young Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a gifted child who has penchant for strategic thinking, especially in war games. This brings him to the attention of the military, especially Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) who champions his gifts as the best chance for Earth in the up and the coming battle with the alien Formics, an insectoid race that attacked and nearly decimated Earth years before. Children have been trained in warfare and strategic thinking ever since as the humans wish to send a retaliatory force to strike back before the Formics try again.We follow Ender as he wins battles both in games, and in his personal life before the final confrontation that throws everything we think we know into turmoil and sets Ender off on a different path. Ender’s Game does have a certain appeal, it covers some complex issues without getting bogged down in semantics and has enough action and drama to keep most entertained (even if you do see the final twist coming). Moral ambiguity and questions about first strikes and retaliation still remain prominent and relevant. Hood keeps the pace high, the tension strong and elicits some excellent performances from his young cast, while stalwarts such as Harrison Ford and Ben Kinsley add some gravitas to it all.
Ender's Game Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG4 codec and is Region locked to B.
As you might expect from a high budgeted all digital film the picture is practically reference throughout; detail is sublime from skin texture to clothing weaves, from computer terminals to the stars in space, everything is in pristine clarity and edges are held well into the distance. Colours are slightly stylised in that there is a push towards the blue/orange but there is no wash or bleed seen anywhere. Primaries are very strong with reds, greens and blues all being bold, lush and cool respectively. Skin tones are very natural looking, save the stylised nature of the picture.
As you might expect from a high budgeted all digital film the picture is practically reference throughout
Brightness and contrast are set to give superb blacks and the depths of space probably haven’t looked so impenetrable since Gravity (its closest rival), which gives excellent punch to the picture as well as terrific depth leading to some clear 3D pop moments. Digitally there are no compression problems, no aliasing, posterization or edge enhancement. The image is a clean as a whistle and as sharp as a pin – excellent stuff.
Ender's Game Blu-ray Sound QualityJust as the picture is reference, so is the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack which utilises all the speakers to place you in the centre of the action, even if that ‘action’ is a class room. The surrounds are used to fill out ambience of any given scene, but really come into the fore with the action scenes where their pin point accuracy has you ducking from the noise behind. The Formic’s chattering is particularly creepy as it chirps around the room (literally). The score, again, makes full use of the dynamic range and all the speakers. Bass is well realised and suitably deep, LF effects are plentiful but more restrained than you typical action blockbuster, meaning that rumbles don’t shake the furniture quite so much, but the integration is sublime with thumps, rumbles and low levels are always well catered for. In all a top notch sound track.
Ender's Game Blu-ray ExtrasAudio Commentary – The first is with director Gavin Hood whose knowledge about the film (as one would expect) is encyclopaedic, bordering on autistic – his delivery is good natured and excited and the information, mostly technical in nature to do with effects, sets, design, story developments, stunts, camera movements etc., comes thick and fast. It’s never boring, but with only the one person does become monotonous. Terrible recording too, way too much sibilance on the mic leading to distorted s’s.
Audio Commentary – The second is with producers Gigi Pritzker and Bob Orci and by contrast their chat is far more relaxed. They do cover some of the same ground, but form a different perspective which means it is like a fresh listen; they have a good delivery and a working chemistry, name-dropping notwithstanding.
Ender’s World: The Making of Ender’s Game (49.31, HD) – A series of eight featurettes that cover specific segments of the making of the film, they can be played all together or watched individually. Their titles give away exactly what they are about and it is best watched as one feature where the genesis of the project is explained and how the film went through the ringer to get made. Pretty much everyone who had a hand in the production gets to have some screen time, though it could have done with less finished film used to pad out the run time. Titles are: Journey to the screen, Recruiting the troops, Ender in zero G, Battle school revealed, The mind game, Behind enemy lines, The alien world and Ender’s mission complete.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (11.09, HD) – Six in total that can be watched individually, all together, with or without director's commentary. Actually very little here (compared to how much must have been cut if you listen to the commentary) and all removed due to either pacing, or giving the ‘twist’ away too soon, though there are a couple of character beats that might have improved the flow just slightly.
Is Ender's Game Blu-ray Worth BuyingEnder’s Game does have a certain appeal, it takes some complex issues without getting bogged down in semantics, has enough action and drama to keep most entertained and even if you see the final twist coming it's still strong enough to pack quite a punch. Moral ambiguity and questions about first strikes and retaliation still remain prominent, even more so with the horror happening right now in the Ukraine, so this sci fi pulp actioner remains relevant, and possibly brings such thoughts to a new generation.
Based on the bestselling book of the same name director Gavin Hood keeps the pace high, the tension strong and elicits some excellent performances from his young cast, while stalwarts such as Harrison Ford and Ben Kinsley add some gravitas to it all. Following the story of young Ender and his extraordinary talents for strategy which lead him to being picked and fast tracked through the military to head up Earth’s intergalactic fleet to retaliate against the alien Formic’s after they themselves attacked Earth years before, we watch as manipulation, leadership and destiny combine in a story that is much bigger than you might first perceive.
Moral ambiguity and questions about first strikes and retaliation still remain prominent
Entertainment One’s Blu-ray set is quite a decent package, it boasts reference picture and sound, and a decent selection of extras allowing you to get right behind the scenes of a film that has been well praised.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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