Bean: What kind of name is Ender?
Gavin Hood’s directorial credits are spotty at best; he broke out in 2005 with his Oscar-winning, TSOTSI, but its been downhill from there with mediocre fare like RENDITION and the X-Men movie most X-Men fans wish never happened, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Fortunately, he seems to be turning things around with his latest, ENDER’S GAME, a science-fiction film based on the popular series by controversial author Orson Scott Card. I left the theatre wishing it hadn’t ended yet as I still wanted more time to gain extra insight into some of the characters and their relationships with others. It truly is one of the surprises of the year. Although, it may very well help if when watching ENDER’S GAME, you don’t have previous knowledge so some of the twists and turns come as a shock to you and not something totally expected.
ENDER’S GAME takes place in 2086 after a war has broken out on Earth with an alien race. Casualties are high and Earth has taken every precaution to ensure these incidents never happen again. This war prepares children to become captains and soldiers to fight for Earth. One of these children is Ender (Asa Butterfield), an outcast who also happens to be one of the most gifted protégées on the battlefield. He can see and plan the best means of attack, like an experienced commanding officer, which catches the attention of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), who in turn recruits the young Ender. Hood, who also wrote the screenplay, uses Ender’s status as outcast to his advantage and creates a juxtaposition between Ender and the aliens; they’re both pariahs with conviction and missions to accomplish. In Ender’s case, he wants to learn the mechanics of becoming a leader, while the aliens intend to colonize the planet. The only question remaining is who will win and at what cost. This unexpected depth adds layers to the ENDER’S GAME story. It is a tale of perseverance with themes of identity and morality interwoven throughout.
ENDER’S GAME occasionally fast tracks the plot without filling in the blanks for people who have not had the chance to read the book. However, the film has enough story and character development to carry it though and not leave the audience questioning intentions or relationships. Moreover, aside from these gaps in background information, ENDER’S GAME is a promising launch point for the series, which the source material provides for. ENDER’S GAME could have been another victim in the long chain of YA adaptations that miss the mark entirely, but thankfully Hood steers this giant ship clear of those disasters. In a world seemingly endless YA adaptations, ENDER’S GAME does not stand out as a milestone success, but definitely rises above most of what is being thrown at audiences as of late.
How many sheep would you give Ender’s Game?