1 November 2013 6:08 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Ender’s Game

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

An anti-bullying allegory writ on the largest possible scale, “Ender’s Game” frames an interstellar battle between mankind and pushy ant-like aliens, called Formics, in which Earth’s fate hinges on a tiny group of military cadets, most of whom haven’t even hit puberty yet. At face value, the film presents an electrifying star-wars scenario — that rare case where an epic space battle transpires entirely within the span of two hours — while at the same time managing to deliver a higher pedagogical message about tolerance, empathy and coping under pressure. Against considerable odds, this risky-sounding Orson Scott Card adaptation actually works, as director Gavin Hood pulls off the sort of teen-targeted franchise starter Summit was hoping for.

— Peter Debruge

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Free Birds

Distributor: Relativity Media

Month-old mashed potatoes wouldn’t leave behind as questionable an aftertaste as “Free Birds,” a »


- Variety Staff

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