Did you know that the name of this blog is Dinner and a MOVIE? Yea, I was focused a lot on the dinner part and not so much on the movie part lately.
Anyway, I went to see Ender’s Game tonight!
I’ll state for the record that I really enjoyed this movie. A lot. If you are a reader and enjoy sci-fi, please go read this book right now. It’s long, but please, I beg of you, read the book before you see the movie. Granted, as usual, the movie is not as good as the book, but they preserved the most important elements. Also, Asa Butterfield’s performance for me was spot on. In the book, we see Ender progress from about 6-7 years old through about 12. In the movie, that would obviously be difficult, so he’s more in the 12-13 range in the movie, at least that was my take on the age. I was a little peeved that Harrison Ford got top billing for this when Asa was the star, but hey, a studio is going to do what they think will put the most butts in seats.
I’m going to get a little specific here about the story line. So if this is a movie/book that you don’t want spoiled, move along, come back later!
The premise of the movie is set in a future where many years prior to Ender, the Earth was attacked by an alien race called the Formics. They nearly defeated us but for the brilliant commander Mazer Rackham. While the Formic’s have not since attacked, we are at the ready and are in fact advancing on their home planet. The International Military has decided that the youth of the Earth are the best suited for command of the fleet as they have grown up on massive video game simulations, and they have been searching for a commander for the final attack. Those chosen to advance through the military go to Battle School and if they cut it there, they go on to Command School.
As the movie opens, it stays rather true to the book. We’re introduced to Ender immediately and also get quick look into his psyche as well as the motivations and mechanisms of the adults who will attempt to control and maneuver Ender throughout the movie. Harrison Ford’s character, Colonel Graff, is also introduced to us immediately. One of the things I was glad to see was that they didn’t completely write off Ender’s siblings, Peter and Valentine. Peter is brilliant but a psychopath who terrorizes Ender while Valentine is his protector and closest friend (and in the book, also brilliant). In the book, Peter and Valentine get a whole sub-plot that is rather complex and interesting. I understand why it was cut from the movie, it would have added about another hour to it!
Ender leaves his family to go to Battle School. One of the things I was most impressed with was how the special effects team created and laid out the battle game room. I had a vision in my head that Orson Scott Card (the writer of the book) had created for me and this was basically spot on. I loved it. In the book, we see Ender progress quickly through battle school. In the movie, it was even more rushed. But we have to get him ready for Command School! Throughout battle school, you can see Ender’s struggles. He has a violent side that he tries to suppress, but when pushed, it comes out. And people do like to push Ender.
Ultimately, Ender of course ends up in Command School, surrounded by his most trusted team from Battle School. Here, he meets the great Mazor Rackham and begins to try to understand the enemy. They are called bugs by the humans because of their appearance. Also, because of how they behave, they essentially have queens who command drones, kill the queen, and the drones stop and die. This is when Ender begins to command simulated battles. I’m about to get REAL spoilery here, so if you don’t want to know how this movie ends, again, LEAVE.
In the book, this came as a complete and total shock to me. In the movie, I’m not sure… I obviously knew how it ended, but I think they gave more hints than were in the book. Anyway, Ender and his team only believed they were simulated battles. in reality, each battle was real as fleet moved closer and closer to the Formic home planet. On the day Ender and his team believe they are graduating from Command School, they have a large audience watching the battle. Ender ultimately destroys and entire planet and wins the war. His realization that it was not a simulation but a real battle is horrific. He’s committed genocide on the largest scale, eliminating an entire race. Imagine coming to that realization after the fact.
When I read the book, I wanted to cry at how children, specifically Ender, were manipulated by adults. The web of lies was so grand, it was astonishing. Throughout, the idea that it was “for the greater good” was said over and over again in different ways. Ender, wise beyond his years, questions everything from their methods to his own. Could peace have been negotiated. Could they have communicated with the aliens (they had no vocal cords, so communication seemed out). Could he have done something different during the final battle to save more humans in the fleet and the home planet of the Formics. Graff tells him no, that if Ender had known it was real he wouldn’t have been as daring, and ultimately would not have been successful. Ender will never know, but he will have to live with what was done. Ultimately, in both the book and movie, there is one queen left and Ender goes off to find a new home for her in an attempt to make things as right as they can be.
So, again, I really enjoyed this movie. I felt that the performances were well done and they stayed rather true to the book. There were things that would obviously be left out due to time constraints. I would recommend this movie if you are a fan of the sci-fi genre. Seriously though, don’t wimp out, read the dang book! I know, some of you aren’t readers and that’s asking a lot, so fine, just go see it!
Has anyone out there also seen it? What do you think? How did it compare to the book for you?