Compelling, Provocative Science Fiction
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Hailee
Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin,
Harrison Ford, Moises Arias,
Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis,
Andrea Powell, Nonso Anozie,
Aramis Knight, Jimmy Pinchak
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 114 minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate
Director: Gavin Hood
Executive Producer: David Coatsworth, Deborah Del
Prete, Bill Lischak, Ted
Ravinett, Vankatesh Roddam,
Mandy Safavi, Ivy Zhong
Producer: Orson Scott Card, Robert
Chartoff, Lynn Hendee, Alex
Kurtzman, Linda McDonough,
Roberto Orci, Gigi Pritzker,
Writer: Gavin Hood
Address Comments To:Jon Feltheimer, CEO, Lionsgate Films AKA Lions Gate Films (Summit Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 449-9200; Fax: (310) 255-3870
In it, the alien race known as Buggers once attacked earth, and, at great cost, the humans defeated them. Years have passed, and Earth has diligently readied themselves for any future attack, training and nurturing the brightest child geniuses to possibly be the leader they need to defeat the Buggers.
Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a shy, but brilliant 12-year-old boy who comes from a family that has all tried and failed at entering the International Fleet. His violent and brutal older brother, Peter, lacked the self-control of a leader, and Ender’s sweet and kind sister, Valentine, was too compassionate for the military. This left Ender, commonly called a “third” because having three children was socially and legally discouraged.
Preliminary testing of Ender gives Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) hope that Ender might be the one with the tactical intelligence to defeat the Buggers for good. Ender, once accepted into Battle School, learns strategy, combat, and, most importantly, how to be a leader. As Graff pushes Ender harder than any other student, Ender struggles with his own nature. His training pushes him toward further violence and aggression while he desperately tries to hold onto the compassion his dear sister gave to him. Ender’s unprecedented skills increase and the responsibility of his mission becomes unbearable.
ENDER’S GAME carries the themes of the original novel quite well, but the movie fails at being great on its own merit. Its inclusion of certain aspects from the book muddle the story a bit and increase its pace too quickly. That said, the movie is still highly entertaining with creative, unique action sequences, fantastic CGI images, and a cast that captures the character motives and personalities magnificently.
The worldview is purposefully mixed, with the filmmakers deliberately wanting to spawn discussion among young people regarding a myriad of topics.
One of the novel’s major themes, which carries into the movie, is about warfare and how societies go about winning a war. Though no particular nation is spotlighted in the movie, earth as a whole has turned to militaristic paranoia, borrowing from a Darwinist philosophy the idea of “kill or be killed.” This is the prevalent worldview of Colonel Graff and the International Fleet as Graff trains these young boys and girls.
On the flip side, one of Graff’s officers, Major Anderson (Viola Davis), disagrees with Graff’s intense training. She works to defend the children’s innocence.
This debate goes on until the end, when Graff’s philosophy of war is questioned and replaced with compassion. Graff’s “us or them” mentality is put in its place with Ender’s statement “the way we win matters.” Biblically, Ender correctly shows the importance of compassion.
(SPOILER ALERT) One problem with Ender’s eventual empathy for the Buggers is that it doesn’t transfer over to the audience. The lack of information regarding these aliens leaves it unclear whether Ender’s attitude is truly the correct one. Ultimately, however, Ender’s view seems to be correct, though some aspects of it may be questioned. (END OF SPOILERS)
The movie also rightly puts the militaristic use of children in warfare in a negative spotlight, even though there’s little violence. Ender’s diplomatic and compassionate leadership with his fellow Battle School students proves to be more powerful than bullying and fear. The themes addressed should generate healthy discussion among all viewers, including younger ones.
Thankfully, the offensive content in ENDER’S GAME is minimal. There’s very little foul language, no sex, and only a few stronger violent scenes, especially between Ender and some young bullies who antagonize him. Most of the children’s combat training is simply a glorified version of laser tag in a zero gravity room. Caution is advised for ENDER’S GAME due to brief violence and some complex themes that would be difficult for younger children to comprehend.
ENDER’S GAME is highly entertaining with a great cast and stellar visuals and special effects. However, the story moves a little too quickly at times. The movie has a strong moral worldview overall, but that’s mixed with some humanist elements. Thankfully, the offensive content is minimal, with very little foul language, no lewd content, and only a few violent scenes between Ender and some young bullies. Caution is advised for ENDER’S GAME, due to that brief violence and some complex themes that might be difficult for young children to comprehend.