Ender’s Game is the first of an entire series of novels by Orson Scott Card an American science fiction writer. It takes place in the future where the world is under strict population control and where an alien attack has occurred bringing devastation to the planet until a lone hero was able to stop the attack.
Since then the military has recognized that the only way to beat these aliens, called the Formic, is to create a “Battle School” where the children learn how to control drone fighters from a young age through video games. The winners of these games progress to harder and harder tactical games to determine who is the best tactician of all. The ultimate winner will become the commander of the fleet that has been sent to stop the Formic advancement.
Enter Andrew “Ender” Wiggin played by Asa Butterfield. Ender is a “third” in a world that has severe over population issues more than two children are a luxury and so to have a “third” you must pay a special fee for your child to be born. And in Ender’s family there is massive pressure both of his siblings failed at battle school and were sent back home. Ender is the family’s last chance to help defeat the Formic.
Ender is carefully watched by Colonel Graff who believes that Ender is the one great tactician that earth needs and so puts him through a series of tests. Ender proves his worth to Graff by defeating a superior foe (size and strength) and keeps hitting him once he is down because he wants to “prevent further battles”.
Ender is then taken to a orbiting space station where further training occurs there he learns hand to hand as well as tactics in each he surpasses the other students there which is what Graff wants. Graff is determined to alienate Ender in order to push him to achieve Graff’s ultimate goal.
And Ender succeeds, but not without Ender questioning just what Graff wants from him. Ender explains his philosophy about how he understand his enemy and how he can defeat him in this quote:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
The trouble is Ender doesn’t understand the Formic.
There are a lot of themes in this movie there is the Malthusian themes regarding population growth, regarding both the earth and the Formic home world having too many people for the planet to support them. The theme of just war theory is also explored, although in a negative fashion. Indoctrination in children, how war affects the warriors., and genocide.
Orson Scott Card once said that Ender’s game could never be made because the story took place too much inside of Ender’s head. I’ve read the original story and think that was a legitimate concern but I also note that Orson Scott Card was one of the producers of this film so I think that he helped make this the best representation of the story.
Having said that if you haven’t read the book you might be disappointed with the movie. This is definitely a movie that reading the book first is a plus.
There are scenes of violence, war, and genocide in this film and it maybe too much for younger children.
I give this film three stars out of five.