Ender’s Game, the novel by Orson Scott Card, is considered one of the pinnacles of science fiction over the last half century. It presented a universe in which the human race was out of ideas to save itself, and looked at the only alternative left to it: its children.
We enter an era in which the previous generation of humanity had to face its greatest threat: an invasion of frightening, insectoid like creatures who could neither be defeated nor negotiated with. Humanity’s survival form that alien incursion was more by luck and circumstance than skill and technology. In response, the Earth’s military minds prepare for the next Alien invasion by forming the elite Battle School.
The protagonist is Andrew (Ender)Wiggin (Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame), a child of a brilliant family of children, who is closely analyzed and followed by the elite military minds of the world, who scour the Earth for potential candidates for their prestigious Battle School. His older brother Peter is just as much a genius as Ender, but has an uncontrollable violent streak. His sister Valentine (played by Abigail Breslin) is the person whom Ender loves the most in the world; and the reason he loves her (for her pure emotional attachment) was a reason she was not considered an ideal candidate.
However, Ender is the ideal candidate: a genius who is emotionally attached enough to fight for his family and humanity, while vicious and violent enough to destroy his enemies should the need arise.
Thus enters Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis), who run the school. Graff was integral in identifying and choosing Ender for the school. He enters him into the Battle School, where much of the action of the movie takes place.
Underlying all this is the fact that the training of these killers is being done with children. The adults are forming a military force that focuses on young, agile minds, and turns them into tactical killers.
Ender’s rise to the top of the class is painful, emotional, and angst ridden, which is quite the point. Much of it is orchestrated, as the children are played like puppets, one against the other. By the time Ender meets his hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), he is already a leader waiting to take command.
The end scenes of the movie are critical in later enjoying the rest of the plot. The critical moments of the movie put Ender to the ultimate test. And this is no classical war movie with children with a clear happy ending.
Overall, the best performance here was by Harrison Ford. I cannot recall the last time I enjoyed his acting as much. Asa Butterfield is shaky at the beginning, but is solid in the rest of the movie.
Overall, I think this is a solid adaptation of one of my favorite science fiction novels. Well worth the wait.