Enders Game is a movie based on an extremely popular book by Orson Scott Card of the same name. To understand the book, you need to understand the time it came from. See, Enders Game was written back in 1985, before Iraq number 1 was a twinkle in Bush Sr.’s eye. As a result, this book has some political undertones that really come to light when discussing preemptive wars, like the 2003 war in Iraq.
Political undertones that are completely lost when the book is translated to the big screen…but I’ll get to that.
In Enders Game, the world’s fate sits in the hands of one boy, Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) He is recruited and trained by the heroic Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford). Graff has been looking for a child to lead the invasion, because the battle will take place in a video game like environment, where only a child’s mind is open enough to think in a way that will help defeat the aliens. The majority of the movie focuses on Ender and a bunch of other kids training, to determine who is the true leader among them. [more…]
Yes, I am aware that the premise sounds ridiculous. However, in the book, the premise was symbolic. It was written in a time where only cold war was on everyone’s mind, so it was easy to be idealistic about the need for war. The premise gets a bit lost seeing the world isn’t the name way anymore…and also because they cut out a lot to squeeze the movie into a 115 minute run time.
The special effects in this movie were fantastic. The entire movie was visually stunning. There are video bubble zero gravity environments, full scale virtual reality environments and more. The special effects were realistic and nearly flawless.
I say nearly flawless because right up until the aliens are unveiled, everything was going swimmingly. Then, you see the aliens and it all falls apart.
I’m sorry, but these aliens are allegedly supposed to be higher beings with superior intelligence. They would have been a hell of a lot scarier if they had been designed that way, and not like big roaches that had me reaching for a can of Raid. Yes, I am aware that Card wrote them that way in his original novel, but just because he wrote them that way didn’t mean he was right. In fact, Card has a history of being wrong. See his opinion on gay rights if you need verification of that.
Onto the acting.
The lead, played by Butterfield, was expertly cast. This kid has this weird ability to look like a child, sound like a child, and act like an adult. With his piercing blue eyes that look right into your soul, trust me, you will find this kid off putting to say the least. However, for a movie like this, where children are in the role of adults, this casting was a stroke of genius.
Wish I could say the same for Harrison Ford, but honesty, I just wasn’t buying him as a grizzled war veteran. Instead, he looked like a grumpy old man. I spent the movie waiting for him to unwrap a Werther’s Original as he complained about ‘those damn teenagers’.
The movie Enders Game lost a lot of the politics and symbolism of the book in translation. Depending on where you sit on the political fence, this can be a good thing, or a bad thing. However, Enders Game is still an excellent action movie, with a standard implausible premise, and enough decent acting to make it worth the watch.