“Ender’s Game” is a film based on the popular book series by Orson Scott Card. The film about a near future Earth invaded by a hostile alien race, which narrowly escapes annihilation with the heroics of Mazer Rackam (Ben Kingsley). Under the command of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military, the brightest young minds are trained to combat in preparation of a future attack. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is pulled out of his school to join the elite soldiers, advances through his training quickly, and is chosen as the next great commander of the International Military to save the human race. The film was number one at the box office last weekend and also stars Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, and Abigail Breslin.
The film features strong performances from young Asa Butterfield and much older Harrison Ford. The film is heavy in sci-fi, futuristic action and effects, especially in the intense battle scenes. The underlying themes of protecting the greater good and the necessity of war are apparent to audiences along with raised ethical questions about drones, child soldiers, and preemptive strikes. While incredibly gifted, Ender is isolated and picked on by the other soldiers, so the audience identifies with him and roots for his talents as he advances through the ranks and completes his battle simulations with ease. Without reading the book, the audience is impacted by a slightly predictable, yet still powerful ending.
Unfortunately, like most book to movie adaptations, “Ender’s Game” is not immune from being difficult to follow. Some aspects, like Ender’s communication with the alien species, are so briefly mentioned that an audience without an understanding of the novel will not comprehend the significance. The intricacies of the politics back on Earth, along with the true isolation of Ender during his training, are left out, which leaves little room for character development or the motivation behind Ender’s actions in the final scenes.
Overall, the film maintains much of the emotional substance that most adaptations seem to lose. It has action, but still manages to be a mildly thought-provoking film for audiences about what is right and wrong in a war setting. The story is well-written and the effects are spot on, making “Ender’s Game” deserving of its number one box office spot.
The film is rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.