In Orson Scott Card's young-adult novel Ender's Game (1985) a preteen boy advances through an elite military academy in outer space, part of a program to defend the earth against hostile aliens. Writer-director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) presents the material so solemnly that this big-screen adaptation feels like a biblical epic; there's no comic relief or even spontaneous behavior. If you dislike child actors, you might derive a perverse satisfaction from seeing dozens of them look so unhappy to be onscreen. With Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley.
By Ben Sachs