Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is an entry point for many to the realm of science-fiction. The acclaimed novel won the Hugo award when it was published in 1985 and many fans wondered for years when and if we’d ever get a movie version.
It took close to thirty years, but Hollywood has finally found a way to adapt Ender’s Game for the silver screen.
Part of the wait was allowing technology to catch up with Card’s imagination (and that of his readers) to fully render the universe of Ender Wiggin on the silver screen. Another part was finding young actors who could help bring the characters to life on the silver screen.
That day has finally arrived as Ender’s Game hits theater this week. And to answer the biggest burning question in many fans’ minds – yes, the movie was worth the wait.
Director and script writer Gavin Hood distills the novel down to its essential narrative points and hits all the high (and necessary) points.
Fifty years after humanity drove back a potential invasion at the hands of the Formics, Earth is still living in fear that the aliens may return for a second attempt. The military is training children in the hopes of finding and grooming the ultimate tactician who can not only fend off another attack but also prevent any future invasion attempts. Enter Ender Wiggin, the third child born into his family (population restrictions only allow for two) who just may be the long-awaited hope for Earth.
At least that’s what Colonel Hyrum Graff hopes when Ender is enlisted to the orbiting Battle School. Young recruits are immersed in the history of the epic battle as well as put through intense competition in the Battle Room. Ender is moved from team to team within the school, winning various battles and showing off his tactical skills as a leader and strategist.
The cast for the film is well chosen, from Harrison Ford’s work as Hyram Graff to Asa Butterfield’s work as Ender. Butterfield ably carries the film as Ender and proves to be an ideal choice for the iconic role. Of course, it’s helped that he has an Oscar-nominated young actress in Hailee Stanfield as Petra to work with. The rest of the young cast rises to the occasion as well and does solid work in the film.
Hill’s script wisely distills down a lot of what happens in the book into its essential narrative points. The film charts Ender’s rise through the school as well as introducing us to most of the supporting character who will help Ender is his quest to defeat the Formics. Fan favorites (and later expanded into their own novels) Petra and Bean are well served by the script, with Petra getting a solid amount of screen time and development. (Bean isn’t so fortunate).
Visually stunning, Ender’s Game is one of those movies that demands to be seen on the big screen with a Dolby surround system backing it. For the preview I saw, the film was shown on an IMAX screen with the state-of-the-art sound system rumbling and enhancing every epic space battle and moments to its fullest, making you feel like you were immersed in the universe of Ender Wiggin.
And while there are a lot of epic battles and superbly rendered effects sequences, the film doesn’t forget some of the philosophical core of the original source material. The film isn’t afraid to address some of the bigger questions raised by the original source material (I won’t say more because it would ruin several of the twists from the final hour or so of the film). However, the movie does diminish the roles of Ender’s siblings Valentine and Peter a good deal as well as removing an entire subplot featuring these two characters. (Maybe that’s something for the special features on the inevitable DVD and Blu-Ray release).
As a fan of the original source novel, I was pleased to see how well the big-screen version of Ender’s Game worked. The film is not a perfect one, but it does a solid job of translating the main plotline of the novel to the screen. My hope is that movie-goers seeing the movie may be intriguing enough to pick and up read the original source material and then want to move on to the (even better) sequel, Speaker for the Dead.
It took close to thirty years to get Ender’s Game on our screens. And this adaptation proves to have been worth the wait.
Since the ending battle was supposed to have been a fake yet rendered so realistically, one has to wonder if Ender was just stupidly naive to think it was fake or psychotic and knew fully well he was committing genocide so we should be happy he focused on Them instead of Us.
Sean From Edwards says
The movie failed a bit in that regard, in the book Ender was burnt out at that point and just wanted to end it. The movie did not convey that sense of desperation on his part well enough.
Sean From Edwards says
So I finally had a chance to see Ender’s Game last night. Overall impression, go see it, it was fantastic. The visuals were stunning and they had the right cast to bring it to life. Beyond that, i twas too short, run time was supposed to be 114 minutes, but that must have included the end credits, as our movie start at 4:15 and we were out by 6:00, including trailers. There needed to be at least 1 or two more battle room sequences. Most of the changers are forgivable for making the movie fit into the run time, cutting out almost all of Peter and Valentine was acceptable, and compressing several battle room battles into one or two was forgivable. How they showed Dragon army moving up the ranks was clever, but I would have settled even for a montage. Moving Command School from Eros was understandable, as it made the end easier to get to, but could have been handled better. Also why drop the second invasion, the Formics invaded twice in the book, the first one we turned away at Earth, the second in space, leaving us with Eros. Two major changes though that I found betrayed the story: 1) FTL travel, the movie makes it plain that they have FLT travel, where the book only has FTL comms, this is a major plot point and they just threw it out. 2) Screw newtonian physics. After reaching Command School the ships move like typical sci-fi ships, with little to no regard for Newtonian Physics. That invalidated everything the kids learned in battle school. There is some mention of physics at that point, but the fighters don’t seem affected by it.
Still go see it whether you read the book or not. And if you haven’t read the book go read it afterwards. Much better than ST: Into Darkness IMHO.