Considering the book Ender’s Game was written in 1985, author Orson Scott Card’s work predicted the internet, blogging, trolls and and other such ‘futuristic’ terms. The book is also considered essential reading for the military. Having never gotten round to reading the book I thought now would be a good time to catch the film whose book has inspired so many.
Set in the future, Earth just managed to survive an attack against aliens fifty years ago but fear of another attack loams. As children have the most adaptable minds they are trained from a young age to control the drones that will be used in battle against the aliens. One such kid Ender, whose trying to overcome the stigma of being a third child (now Earth has a two child policy) and is given a chance to enroll in Battle school. We watch Ender’s progress as he rises through the school and looks likely to become Earth’s gretaest chance to win the war.
Those who know nothing about the source material and expecting a typical summer blockbuster will hopefully be pleasently surprised by a film that gives thoughtful contemplation on the ethics on war. Is it ok to do whatever it takes to win despite the consequences or the effect on those having to take part?
As the hero Ender, Asa Butterfield is brilliant. He manages to handle a complicated character and make him engaging and likeable. He is constantly struggling with the two sides of himself represented by his brother Peter (the agressive, violent side) and sister Valentine (the compassionate, empathetic side). Butterfield manages to conveys the different sides to his personality while also displaying Ender’s strategic intellegance and the mental strain that the training for war puts on him.
Harrison Ford and Viola Davis provide strong support as the Commanders of the cadets, it’s interesting watching their characters discuss the morality of what they are doing, especially pushing such young kids so hard. They discuss whether the ends justifes the means school when it comes to teaching the cadets, especially Ender. These adults are more mouthpieces to talk about the morality of war rather than as properer three dimensional characters buts in the hands of Ford and Davis they make us feel that there are a human, scared side to these people. In their eyes they are just doing what they can to ensure Earth survival after near devestation fifty years ago.
Unfortunatly the rest of the cadets don’t get much depth. Fellow students Ali (Suraj Parthasarathy) and Bean (Armais Knight) shine in their small roles but Haliee Stansfield is wasted as Petra and seems mostly there to be the token girl.
At times it was hard to distance what I knew about the author from the film, but it’s just shame that Orson Scott Card doesn’t extend his themes of peace and tolerance to his views on gay marriage. However the filmakers have tried to distance themselves from the author’s views so if you’re able to do the same then I recomend watching this film.
Rating 3.5/5-worth seeing this blockbuster with a brain