A classic book commands the silver screen
'Enders Game': Grade A-
Published: Monday, November 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, November 4, 2013 22:11
What if every move you made growing up was watched by the government, whose only purpose was to determine if you were worthy enough to be trained to be a military leader?
Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a talented young cadet who wins all the games he plays. His most recent victory is against a larger cadet named Stilson (Caleb Thaggard). He’s watched by a couple military leaders, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis) through his monitor.
Soon after, Ender has his monitor removed. Stilson and his friends corner Ender and challenge him to fight. Ender knocks Stilson down and beats him until he can’t move. Later that night, the Wiggin family is visited by Graff and Anderson, who ultimately recruit him to go to Battle School, the military training facility.
This is when the real excitement begins, filled with zero gravity combat rooms, video games that evolve with the player and the toughest teachers of the future.
“Ender’s Game” is very familiar to me. I’ve read the book twenty times in my life so far. Obviously, this gave me a biased opinion when I saw director and writer Gavin Hood’s take on Orson Scott Card’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel. My strong emotional connection with the full story is why I can’t give “Ender’s Game” a solid A grade.
For those who’ve read the book and are concerned with the accuracy of this adaptation, know that the essence has been captured, but not everything is there. The story focuses on Ender and not on his family. If you haven’t read the book, I’d recommend you read the book before you see the movie, even though you’d enjoy the movie as it is.
“Ender’s Game” is a different type of science fiction than that of “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” It has a much higher mental and philosophical element to bring depth to the action.
The pacing of the film was steady but quick. There was a lot to cover, even with the removal and compression of some material. The compressions caused deviations from the book, but they were executed in an acceptable way.
It was apparent Hood did his research and consulted Card on the details of the characters, including minor characters. For example, John Paul Wiggin (Stevie Ray Dallimore), Ender’s father, had a Polish accent, and Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) was half Maori. It was impressive.
The visual and special effects were magnificent. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the Formics, also known as buggers, the alien race that attacks Earth. The creatures themselves were similar to what I’d imagined. I’m guessing some inspiration was taken from the “Ender’s Game” comic books, based on the Battle Room uniforms.
The music was as I wanted: orchestral. It helps build the grandeur of the movie with a strong supporting orchestra. Steve Jablonsky composed the score, which surprised me at first, but he did a good job. One of his virtues is his music all sounds different. It’s harder to determine his style of music like you can with other composers. It’s easy to pick out a score composed by John Williams, but it’s difficult when it’s Jablonsky. One of my favorite parts about the music was it seemed to advance and grow as Ender advanced.
The movie was more militaristic than the book, but it better demonstrates the society that would be built up around an International Fleet.
One of my favorite parts of the book was in the movie. It’s the scene when Mazer and Ender meet. It’s a great scene, and Mazer’s lines were pulled almost verbatim from the book. Kingsley did a fabulous job at his role, as always.
It’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, for fans of any book to rate the movie as high as the book, but “Ender’s Game” is a fair rendition of the classic book. Check it out.
–Spencer Palmer is a graduate student working toward an MBA with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Email him at email@example.com or visit his website, themovieknight.wordpress.com.