A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Ender’s Game adaptation lives up to hype

Thirty-five years after author Orson Scott Card released his novel “Ender’s Game,” we finally get a movie adaption of what the author once called an “unfilmable” story. With an amazing ensemble cast and the latest in technology, “Ender’s Game” has finally become a reality. But the big question remains: does it hold up to the book? I can without a doubt say yes, it is almost everything you wanted it to be.

“Ender’s Game” tells the story of 12-year-old Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a strategic military genius recruited by Earth’s government to protect its people from another invasion of what the population named “buggers.” These creatures attacked earth 50 years before the movie takes place and only with the help of Mazer Rackham, who single-handedly defeated them, did humanity come out alive. In order to save humanity once and for all, the government starts training young children because they have a better grasp of technology and strategy than adults. They are sent to battle school to train and become the future soldiers the world needs.

This film adaptation stays close to the source material for the limited time constraint they have, hitting all the major plot points the book did. Director Gavin Hood, known for “X-men Origins: Wolverine,” had the impossible task of bringing such a detailed and smart story to life. He nailed it almost completely, though he did not do it alone; the cast truly drives the book’s message that war can make people do anything to win.

Ender himself is animated by child star Asa Butterfield, who knows exactly how to display Ender’s emotions. When a fight in the bathroom halfway through the movie brings a horrible consequence, you can really feel the sadness eating him up inside. All in all, this is the best cast of kids I have seen since “Harry Potter” hit theaters 12 years ago. Aramis Knight, who plays Bean, did such an awesome job that I hope the movie studio goes ahead with Card’s parallel story “Ender’s Shadow” just to see more of him.

The children were not the only ones who made the movie. After a 30-year absence from space, Harrison Ford finally returns in all his glory, playing Colonel Graff, a semi-father figure for Ender who pushes him to awful limits. Viola Davis, who plays Major Anderson, also does a phenomenal job of bringing her character to life. Some fans may take issue with Anderson’s change from male to female, but it really does not detract from the experience. In fact, some of the best dialogue comes from her conversations with Graff about Ender’s mental state.

Hood did an amazing job of bringing the visuals of “Ender’s Game” to life, staying very close to Card’s original idea. The battle room sequences are intense and amazing. Hood actually studied physics to make sure everything was faithful to the book. And the final battle, which they probably showed way too much of in the trailers, was breathtaking in scope and size. No film in recent memory has done such giant battles, and watching the kids play these games in a “Minority Report” style was truly mesmerizing.

Critics say the fantasy game Ender plays is too fake and CGI; for those people I say, you never read the book. It is supposed to look that way, as it is Ender playing a video game. It looks like a video game from the next generation of consoles and I was impressed that not only did Hood include these sequences, he stayed very true to them.

For all the good the movie did, it  missed a few details that do stop it from being a truly great film.  The violence from the book is scaled down for the PG-13 rating, something I understand so that it may reach a wider audience but it takes away the message that the book so brilliantly expressed, namely do the ends really justify the means in which we get there? The message is kind of there but without the violent aspects of Ender’s personality it does not hit as hard as it should. Other little problems are due mainly to the time constraint of the film.

Regardless of the little issues, the makers and the cast did a good job with the tremendous task they have of bringing this film to life. As a fan of “Ender’s Game” I am so happy to finally see this adaption stay faithful to the source. I cannot wait to see what comes next for Ender and his crew.

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Jarrett Rodriguez, Co Editor-in-Chief

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