Having read the books and having Ender’s Game playing at a cinema five minutes’ walk from a hotel I am staying at I couldn’t think of any reason not to go and see it – apart from the fact it has two aged old hack actors in it (Harrison ‘rubber face’ Ford and Ben ‘crap bad guy’ Kingsley), it is a 12A, I already knew the twist at the end and it is a story about kids. So I went, I saw, I posted.
I initially felt uncomfortable with the cheesy script and play it by the book sci-fi shots with visual cues from 2001, Minority Report, The Matrix, Independence Day, Battle Los Angeles to name but a few. However as things progressed the story came to the forefront of the cinematic experience and the excellent acting of the main child actor (Asa Butterfield who seemed to me like a young Jeremy Renner) removed my incessant need to make comparisons with other films long gone. The story cannot escape its similarities to those of Starship Troopers and Aliens, but I am pretty sure the original novel by the awesome Orson Scott Card predates these films. The film is quite close to the source material from what I can remember – it’s long time ago that I read the books in a galaxy far far away.
The way Ender goes about solving tactical issues is well portrayed in the film and the clear moral message contained within the book is still present in the film and neither diluted or over-egged. Ben Kingsley thankfully doesn’t play a bad guy and is not in the film long enough for any true over-acting and Harrison Ford also performs okay as the driven Army general relying on children to win them the war against a truly alien enemy. Most of the cast of younglings, apart from the actors who play Ender’s siblings, are very good and I have no doubt we will be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
I am not sure if any further Ender films are planned, but I for one would like to see them made. As books they were thought-provoking and challenging and in no way run-of-the-mill sci-fi. They take on big issues intelligently despite being encapsulated in the much maligned genre.
I don’t think there was a “clear moral message contained within the book “….
Of course you are perfectly entitled to your opinion and it has been years since I read the books, but how about the usual ‘war is bad’ or ‘it’s not okay to wipe out an entire species’ as clear moral messages? To begin with the children are duped into warfare in the form of games or simulations, but when Ender realises what he has done at the end of the story he tries to make ammends by finding a home for the Queen egg. Surely that is a clear enough moral message? Okay it’s not rammed down the readers/viewers throat (which is a good thing) but it seemed clear enough to me.
Does Card want us to think that Ender is innocent?
I think Card is making a great observation about kids’ willingness to play at soldiers (cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, call it what you want) without really fully understanding what it is they are simulating. They are naive, and it is after all just a game. The ‘what if?’ question he is posing is ‘what if the games children play actually have real consequences?’ As to the question of whether Card wants us to think Ender is innocent – that is something only Card himself can answer. I think the character is a product of his upbringing as a ‘third’, being bullied by his brother, and being manipulated by society capitlaising on fear. He certainly becomes more ‘human’ towards the end of the book/film and develops clearly as ‘good person’ in the subsequent novels.