One explosion leads to the eruption of thousands. Battleships tear across the brimming sky, maneuvering between asteroids and Formic vessels. An enemy swarm encapsulates the largest foreign ship, chaotically thrashing through the onslaught. A single battleship locks on target and shoots high into the epicenter of the swarm. One final burst of flames and smoke. Then nothing. We had won.
“Ender’s Game” takes place in a futuristic world where three world alliances have come together to fight the alien race known as the Buggers or Formics that invaded Earth 50 years prior. Children from around the world are implanted with monitors, small metallic guardians that transmit all thoughts to the International Fleet (IF). This governmental organization is responsible for one objective: train children to destroy the Buggers. Select children receive monitors and are thus tested for their predicted ability to handle Battle School, which prepares candidates for warfare.
Despite the international law of each household only bearing two children, Ender was born as a Third, a hopeful mixture of his two older siblings who failed to enter the next phase of training. The IF decides to remove Ender’s monitor, a sure sign he has washed out of the training program. When confronted by the largest bully in school about his failure, Ender fights back. Hard. He destroys the bully for this war and all of the other wars that would have come. For this reason, Ender is accepted into Battle School. Here, he prepares for the real war.
Having read Ender’s Game multiple times, I understood the risks of creating a film adaptation. A large part of the novel is dedicated to the inner workings of Ender himself, the emulsification of his thoughts, feelings, and rationalizations while aboard Battle and Command School. So I went into the movie expecting nothing, fully prepared to notice every detail that fluctuated from the original story. But I was blown away. Speechless. Fan girl screaming the entire way back to the house about how awesome the movie I just saw was in comparison to every other movie I had ever seen.
I have nurtured Ender and his struggles in my heart for almost two decades, feeling his pain of isolation and the yearning for his sister, Valentine. But as Ender stepped onto the screen, fully dressed in Dragon battle attire, I realized the truest version of this tale had been represented in full cinematic display. Even the Mind Game, a crucial element to the plot, was replicated to form the exact image I produced in my mind while first reading Ender’s Game. The IMAX experience completely transported me into the Battle Room, every breath constricted as Ender’s team members became immobilized by enemy cadets’ lasers. I was surrounded on all sides by exploding Formic vessels, the sound of organic matter and metal ripping apart along the back of my neck. I could almost smell the singed antennae of the Formics.
The actors chosen for “Ender’s Game” massively determined the success and storytelling capability of the film. Ender, portrayed by Asa Butterfield, is an ideal replica for the Ender portrayed in the novel. His soft expression paired with saddened blue eyes can instantaneously turn to maddening when his instincts demand decisive results. Ender’s main rival and friend, Bean (Aramis Knight), is quick to match every move Ender throws at him, often shown aside sarcastic comments and determined smiles. Harrison Ford transforms into Colonel Graff, a warm and welcoming figure who changes into the wall Ender must bounce back from and crash through during his years of training leading up to the final battle. Each actor was handpicked for a reason – because they were able to fully capture their characters on the screen.
So, yes, please see this adaptation of “Ender’s Game” if any fiber of your being was ever hypnotized by the trials of a boy too young to fully comprehend the madness and betrayal of war. I highly recommend reading the book first (and then buying every other book in the entire series) followed by enthralling yourself with the film. If teasing trailers are simply too much to ignore, at least pick up a copy of the book afterward. Thank you, Ender, for being much more than a character in a novel, but a role model for the strange and intelligent children you have inspired.
“I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first.” – Ender Wiggin