“Ender’s Game” premiered Halloween day, raking in $9.9 million by Friday and closed the weekend with $28 million. The film cost $110 million to make and analysts predict that the film will make a profit. The movie, starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, pushed “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” to second place in the box office.
The novel “Ender’s Game,” was authored by Orson Scott Card in 1985. The film version of Card’s novel was written and directed by Gavin Hood, director of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” in 2009.
In 2086, 70 years prior to the setting of the “Ender’s Game,” Earth is invaded by an alien race known as the Formics. The Formic invasion was barely repelled, but due to the self sacrifice of strategic-genius and fighter-pilot Mazer Rackham, the human race survives. The governments of Earth unite under the banner of the “International Fleet” (IF) to prepare for an inevitable a second invasion of the Formics.
Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a young student at a government-sponsored military school and the third child of his parents. As a third, he’s a pariah in a world in which strict population control is in effect.
The government allowed Ender to be born because his impressive genetic lineage indicated he would have the strategic-intellectual capability to lead the International Fleet to victory against the technologically superior Formics.
From the very beginning, Ender is depicted as a brilliant boy who, because of his status as a third, reluctantly finds himself in situations in which he must use his intelligence to defend himself. During an early encounter with a school bully, Ender kicks the bully several times even after the fight is over in order to “win all the other fights.”
Impressed by his reaction to the bully, the omnipresent Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) of the International Fleet whisks Ender away to Battle School, a space station in which dozens of child soldiers participate in zero-gravity wargames and train to be future commanders in the IF. Ender quickly rises to distinction, invoking envy and hatred in the other students.
Ender learns to be an empathetic killer, but the better Ender becomes at defeating his fellow classmates, the more he hates himself for exploiting their weaknesses.
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him,” said Ender several times in the film.
Gavin Hood tried to pack too much plot from the novel into the runtime of “Ender’s Game.” The movie is visually stunning, but lacks in the pacing department. Some of the emotional exchanges between the child actors are awkwardly portrayed, making those scenes laughable. The child actors are trying very hard to be adults, but the awkward portrayal does highlight the absurdity of forcing the characters to skip adolescence by training for war. This thought-provoking absurdity and the genius it is suppose to bring about in these children never really gets a chance to shine because of poor character development.
Much of the content from the book not directly portrayed by the movie is referenced indirectly by secondary characters, gumming up the plot. Despite the adaptation’s drawbacks, the plot of the movie does stand apart from the book and it touches, all too briefly, on the true price of war.