Dear Ender’s Game,
There exists with you a certain special circumstance. Yes, it pertains to adaption and the vision I initially painted of you across the canvas of my inner sight. But it also blends with your evolution from a concise short story into a multiple volume epic that escapes into complexity and many issues.
But be that as it may, all the brilliance of its life and legend turns on its succinct and masterful original work. The import of the dazzling premise on which you are based is what creates the lasting impact for all that encounter you and ponder the juxtaposition at your core. Walking into your big screen debut on a fitting IMAX colossus, knowing your story intimately, I try to silence the internal chatter that poses so many questions and just soak up the experience.
It turns out that was the easy part. But that didn’t mean that there weren’t quandaries along the way. Ender’s Game tracks the efforts of a future humanity trying to recover from an alien colonization expedition that they overcome and defeat and that subsequently revs up the dark and violent human war machine on a species wide scale.
When examining the human species in this future time they discover the innate toughness and skill of adolescent humans and initiate a program to exploit them looking for a modern Sun Tsu. What they are seeking is that outside the box brilliance found in the original hero that destroyed the first expedition. Enter “Ender” Wiggin. A bright boy in a family that has all tried to measure up to the Jesus complex requirements of the military and failed for their minor reasons. Asa Butterfield as Ender is an inspired choice and Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff is another smart move as he imbues Graff with the stolid and threadbare stoicism that was so powerful in the original story.
As Ender shows promise and moves up the ranks toward some destined showdown in his training, the battle school and command school set pieces are everything I could have hoped for in the visual splendor of Gavin Hood’s adaptation. You see, that’s where there is a stereo perception in me as the reader of the story and the viewer of the film. It’s not a dissonant co-existence, but it is noticeable. But noticing that difference is where I find the brilliance of nuance that sells me completely on this film.
As a viewer not knowing the story, anyone who appreciates a great sci-fi story on the big screen will be captured by this film. It will at times possess almost a dry quality that may seem a lack of compelling filmmaking, but to those that know the story and appreciate it as I do, it will generate a love of this film and that love will be for all the little things that bind this adaptation to the Orson Scott Card original. Because as the former may not know until they read the short story, the later will realize its brilliance early on and recognize this as one of the finest sci-fi adaptations ever brought to the big screen and easily one of the best book adaptations in any genre in recent years.
With such lofty praise I find that I didn’t dare believe this could rise to the heights of such an iconic story, but in the end I am purely delighted it did.
I salute you and know beyond doubt we will train together again Ender,