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2013

Ender’s Game may be one of the most controversial movies of the year. I am so glad I went to see it! Orson Scott Card may be offended by my very existence as a gay man, but why should that mean I cannot enjoy a damn good story?

And after all the hype, and all my expectations of it the film, I’m relieved to say that they made a good story into a good movie

Plot

Ender's Game

Ender Wiggin is a rare third-born child of expectional intelligence and strategic ability who is bred and raised to lead the Humans to victory against the anticipated invasion of the alien Buggers, or the Formics. As we follow his journey, we see him develop as an individual fighter, a squadron leader, army leader and eventually a fleet admiral. Ender discovers that in order to understand an enemy enough to destroy them, he also comes to love them. He wants to love but is supremely gifted at killing.

Book to Movie Transition

The movie wonderfully captures the character and conflicts of the Ender character and most of the major elements of his story are present and well represented. My only hiccup in the whole move is how fast the story went. In the book, the story takes place over 6 years. The movie story feels like just a few months. I would have loved to see more of the Battle Room and more of Ender’s development as a fighter and leader. I would have loved to see his relationships with Alai and Bean explored more.

More than that, the Peter and Valentine story was completely cut out! Which makes sense because Peter’s story mostly gets explored in the Ender’s Shadow saga and Valentine follows Ender into space…at least in the book.

Characters

Ender is a beautifully complex character with such a rich conflict. He is driven by love for his sister, his family, his people, his army, even his enemies. Simultaneously, he is haunted by the violence he can inflict so easily. He’s clever and resourceful and able to lead but relentlessly lonely.

Colonel Graff perfectly typifies super power military. Who cares how we win as long as we win. Enemies are enemies, not people. His students are soldiers not kids. In the book, you see that his character comes to care for the kids, but in the movies, he is created as a hard man driven to be ruthless in order to protect his species.

Bean is, well…Bean. He has five of his own books. He is underwhelming in the movie, though amusing as a smart ass. His character is equally as complex and compelling as Ender.

Petra. In the movie, she is a sweet, older sister figure for Ender. In the book, she is part mentor, part rival, but with a much more distinct hard edge.

Alai. Sweet Muslim boy. One of the most sacred moments in the book is when he kisses Ender’s cheek and whispers “Salaam.” I was very upset that they cut out the kiss in the movie.

Bonzo…was quite a bit shorter than I envisioned. Which sorta worked. In the book, though, he towers above Ender physically and metaphorically until he is literally and fatally toppled.

Acting

Not bad. No surprises from Harrison Ford…good to see him in space again. Viola Davis makes the military feel human. Asa Butterfield delivers a haunting interpretation of Ender as a boy who will just as soon cry as get in your face and not back down. Ben Kingsley is amazing, ‘nuff said. The rest of the cast is delightfully colorful. Literally. In the book, if you pay attention, you know the kids at Battle School are from all over the world. I was so delighted to see the movie cast representing skin tones from all over the world. Well done, John Papsidera!

Scenery

Mostly CG and space scenes. The innovation I really liked was the Battle Room. In the book, you picture a steel walled room with no windows except the enemy’s gate which is down. In the movie, the battle room is a glass chamber hanging above Earth. Quite beautiful.

Music

By Steve Jablonsky. In anticipate soon adding the soundtrack to my collection, it’s selling attribute being how the music blends seamlessly in the background where you only really notice it if you’re a music nerd like me. I’ll add it to my writer’s playlist.

Memories

Once upon a time I took an acting class and the instructor asked us our acting goals. At that time, about ten years ago, I said that whenever they made a movie about Ender’s Game, I wanted to be a part of it. Well…suppose I missed that one…

I saw the movie in theater with a wonderful group of friends from both my Christian and Queer communities. We had a blast together.

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