Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ender's Game

"In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him."
- Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, Ender's Game

Ender's Game is a science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. Set in the far future, it tells the story of humanity fifty years after a brutal interstellar war with an alien race called the Formics, bug-like creatures capable of spaceflight and advanced electric-based warfare. After a narrow victory by a hero named Mazer Rackham, humanity struggles to rebuild and prepare itself for the return of their sworn enemies. Children are enlisted in battle school, where their talents are honed for the upcoming war.

Personally, I'm still quite unsure on how to rate the film. Obviously, I like the material and all its premises - where the Earth leadership use the innate adaptability of youth against a similarly unpredictable enemy without regard for its consequences. On the other hand, a lot of the backstory from the book was merely hinted at in the film - the machinations set forth by his sociopathic brother, the influential essays by both of Ender's siblings that led to a shift in Earth's leadership and the direct results of Ender's actions that would eventually lead to the legend of The Xenocide. The ending felt dry as well, and I could not decide whether it seemed a little rushed or if they had a hard time trying to add a persona to the Formics after two hours of being portrayed as a species hellbent on instinctive conquest.

It's one of those cases where the book provides too much material to squeeze into two hours' worth of footage. I understand that a whole lot of the plot is driven by dialogue, but a lot of the finer details have been skipped to the point where we are left to wonder about the motivations of some of the characters after they leave the screen. Ender's Game falls in that strange space occupied by novel adaptations like Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers and Zack Snyder's Watchmen.

It could have been more, but I can't say I didn't like what I got.

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