“Ender’s Game” scores high

Jacob Stocking ‘15
Reviews editor

 

Adapting famous books can be a harrowing task. If it sticks too close to the source material, it runs the risk of alienating those who haven’t read the book. On the other hand, if it strays from the book, fans of the original will often be frustrated by any liberties. Fortunately, the new film “Ender’s Game” rides the line between the two perfectly.
“Ender’s Game” is based on the 1985 Hugo Award-winning novel of the same name by renowned science fiction writer Orson Scott Card. It began its life as a short story, but the author chose to expand it into a full novel with the intention of starting a series. Ironically, the book that was supposed to be set up for a sequel ended up being one of the cornerstones of modern science fiction, and works as a great stand-alone novel.
“Ender’s Game” takes place in the future (as sci-fi so often does), and deals with the people of Earth trying to thwart the invasion of a hostile alien species called the Formics. In order to try and fight the Formics, the governments of the world set up a space station called Battle School where young children are taken to be molded into tactical battle commanders. One of these children is Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a troubled youth who manages to be both highly empathic, and cold and calculating.
Both the book and film show the transition of Ender from a boy who misses his sister to a hardened strategist. In the film, Ender is played by Asa Butterfield, who does a terrific job of translating the character from page to screen.
“Ender’s Game” has a large supporting cast, fleshed out by the likes of veterans including Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, as well as relative newcomers like Hailee Steinfeld and the aforementioned Butterfield. There isn’t a bad performance from anyone in the cast, which helps flesh out the world and make it feel more real.
While “Ender’s Game” is mostly a cerebral story, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t major action scenes as well. The film compresses the book’s many Battle School training exercises into only a couple action beats, but they are easily the high points of the film. Each one of them is incredibly tense and expertly well shot, with special effects that don’t distract from the film at all.
For the most part, the book is translated extremely well, with the occasional cut or compression for the sake of brevity. One change that might annoy fans of the book is the film’s decision to focus entirely on Ender, removing the Earth political subplot and some of the side characters. With that said, this reviewer believes the majority of fans will be pleased with the film
“I’ve been wanting this movie for six years,” said Austin Williams ‘15, “and it was worth the wait.”
The movie isn’t perfect, however. As stated earlier, the movie’s focus on Ender causes some of the secondary characters to have less development and end up rather one-note. Also, the movie tends to explain things just a few too many times. It isn’t necessarily talking down to the audience, just spelling it out a little too much.
One thing that has to be taken into consideration with this work is the recent controversy regarding the book’s author, Orson Scott Card. Card has had many controversial opinions in recent years, and without getting into them it is understandable why he has developed a poor reputation.
That being said, the novel’s themes are about morality in the time of warfare and whether an end justifies a means, and the plot has absolutely nothing to do with the statements that have gotten Card into such hot water. This reviewer thinks it is important to separate art from an artist, but it is also understandable why some would want to avoid work that Card is attached to.
“Ender’s Game” is a thrilling adaptation of an all-time classic. It has an excellent cast as well as stunning cinematography and action scenes. I fully recommend fans of the book, people who enjoy thought-provoking science fiction, or anyone who just wants to see a good movie to take the time to see “Ender’s Game.”

 

4 out of 5 stars