**********Warning: the following article may contain spoilers. You have been Warned!*******************
Earth has been invaded twice by a race called “buggers.” In order to prepare for the next invasion, the International Fleet (IF) picks boys and girls at a young age that show the right makeup to become the next Generals and Admirals. These children are then transported to a so-called Battle School that is orbiting Earth. Here, they are given instruction in the finer points of military warfare, but what it really boils down to is the Game. Each person—once they go through their newbie phase—is placed in an army which is commanded by other students. The goal for this game: take out the other Army and secure their gate.
But that is all about to change. There is one boy who the adults are signaling out: Ender Wiggin. Ender is supposed to be the end all be all military commander and he is mankind’s only hope in stopping the next bugger invasion.
First off I will tell you that I am coming into this screening with a biased opinion. I have been reading the book that this movie is based on for over twenty years. It is one of those books that I go back to time and time again when I do not have anything else to read. It is on the Marine Corps recommended reading list so you have to know that there is something about this book that make people love it.
But let me first talk about the movie as just the movie; after that, I will get on my soap box and rant about things that I did not like due to being a lover of the book.
There are two scenes that I really loved in this movie and kind of wish there was more. First, is the battle room at Battle School. I think they did really well with the zero gravity effect and some of the warfare that we get to see. Thankfully, it wasn’t in 3D because I think with all the spinning and maneuvering it would have left the audience dizzy and crazy.
The second set of scenes I really enjoyed was when Ender is in Command School and he is controlling his fleet. The visuals on that are beyond awesome and much-needed upgrade from how the book describes the battle scenes. I could see that scene being in 3D, and it might have been cool to see it jump off the screen. I did see it in an IMAX theater and seeing it on that large of a screen was quite astounding.
I have to tip my hat to Asa Butterfield—I think he did a great job as Ender Wiggin. We had no insight into his head (which you get in the book), so it was all on his shoulders to give us the emotions and thoughts that were going all inside his character’s head.
I think Harrison Ford did a good job playing Col. Graff, though I think they kind of backed off of how ruthless he really was when dealing with these kids. In his mind, he was trying to find the Admiral that could save humanity from alien invasion.
Okay, so I think I did a good job just giving you some of my thoughts on the movie as just the movie with maybe a sliver of bias. Below is for those that love the book almost as much as I do or hell, even more. I did not put everything in the description below; there are more changes or differences that I could tell you about, but I am trying to hold off on that.
That being said, I find it hard as a lover of the book to say that others that love this book will like this movie unless they can separate themselves from the book and the movie, something that I know is very hard to do. I understand why they did not incorporate the Peter Valentine storyline in the book: it would just have made this movie way to long. But to me, where this movie really fails me is that you really don’t get the sense of the immense pressure and responsibility that they are putting on Ender’s shoulders during Battle School that causes him to snap towards the end. They also speed up the time in Battle School, which I think is another issue. I understand that you really can’t do it spanning years like it is in the book when you have an actor that isn’t really changing too much without makeup effects or extra costs, but what you get instead is a feeling that Ender arrives at Battle School, does a few cut scenes, and then he is done.
I will harp on two other differences between the movie and the book and then try to give you some positives. The first one is the computer game which Ender plays at Battle School. I think the writers kind of missed what was really going on in this game. This is the game through which the Formics (alien species that attack us) learn about Ender and try to communicate with him. I never got that feeling when he played that game, and if I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t understand why that game was in the movie.
The final issue I will talk about is Command School. They changed the location (okay, fine I can see that), but if you have instant communication with your units, you do not need to be close to them to talk to them. Ender never sees his fellow classmates again; this is due to them wanting to isolate him so that he does not make too many attachments and get influenced by the others. And then the ending just left me shaking my head… If they make a sequel to this movie, I do not know how they will follow Speaker for the Dead.
I say go see this movie, and if you are a fan of the book, try to put that aside when you go watch this movie or else you’ll sit in the theater, pointing out all of the inconsistencies with the book. If I hadn’t read the book, I would have walked out thinking that this was a very good movie. The friends I screened this with really enjoyed it.
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: Gavin Hood (screenplay), Orson Scott Card (novel)
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Moises Arias, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Aramis Knight