Ender’s Game was as visually stunning as I estimate it must have been to be in a theatre in 1977 watching a gigantic space ship loom over head in Star Wars. That isn’t to say it doesn’t pack one hell of a thought provoking synopsis, though. One could perceive this movie as an indirect representation of our own need for safety, and how far we will go to have peace of mind.
The story takes place some 50 years after an alien race attempts to invade Earth. The ant-like creatures murdered millions of our people but were ultimately defeated by one brave and cunning soldier, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) using his own gift of strategy. Knowing that they would not be able to survive another attack unless formidably prepared, the government begins recruiting the world’s most brilliant children to lead the next generation of super intelligent strategic soldiers. Andrew “Ender” Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is who Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) believes is the prime candidate to be the ultimate commander to lead a strike against the aformentioned aliens, known as Formics. Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) acts as a sort of secret counselor for new recruits but remains out of physical contact with the subjects. She is meant to monitor the recruit’s physical, social, and mental stability throughout the extent of their training. She reports back to Colonel Graff but regardless of her lack of actual interaction, she becomes quite concerned with the morality of the training. Training that consists of simulating battle through video games and a weightless game of strategy that could rival that of Quidditch if we had all the details.
Ultimately, we experience the inner conflict Ender has when presented with the challenge of destroying an entire species. He cannot decide whether what has happened to his people warrants the complete annihilation of an entire race; and this is presented to us through interactive, mind melding video games that are meant to give Major Gwen Anderson insight into his psyche. Anderson represents the voice of reason in this story and feels her own conflict with the use of children in war. Her opinion matters very little to Colonel Graff, who has been orchestrating tests on Ender through mind and power play techniques.
Asa Butterfield portrays his character with ease by making you feel the pressure he feels as the third child in a family desperately seeking to produce the next Mazer Rackham to save everyone. You can feel the weight of the world on his shoulders as he picks apart puzzles while fearing he will fail his family. He also fears for the safety of his beloved sister, Valentine (Abigail Breslin), who has always tried to shield him from the callousness of Battle School. Valentine flunked out for being too compassionate as opposed to the oldest brother, Peter, was far too quick to act violently. It is now Ender’s responsibility to find the balance and focus on the most strategic way of handling every problem he is faced with in Battle School and eventually in Commander School.
With all the controversy around writer Orson Scott Card and his views on homosexuality, I was desperately looking for symbolism in this film. Fortunately, I found that no bias bigoted lessons seeped through in this production and we were given a genuinely amazing piece of science fiction that will hopefully be adored all around. As much as I don’t want to suggest giving money to a bigot through fear of association, it seems cruel to make this masterpiece suffer the consequence. The plot is interesting, and it pulls you in at a continuous rate until you’ve reached the credits. This film rocks an amazing cast with some new faces that have serious star power, and some old faces that have helped shape science fiction to be what it is today. This being the second space epic I have seen in a matter of weeks, I can say that I see no end to my fascination on the subject. I will even go as far as saying that I would love to see Ender become a full fledged franchise star with one or even two more feature length sequels. If done right, I’d follow Ender to ends of the galaxy and that is why I give Ender’s Game 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
Check out the trailer below:
For a second Nerdy opinion, check out Jasper’s video review!
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