Ender’s Game is based on the popular books of the same name by Orson Scott Card, which originated as a short story but then metamorphed into a full blown book series which has over the years gained immense popularity. The story revolves around a futuristic earth which has been bludgeoned by the attacks of an insectoid alien force referred to as the Formics. The people of earth in anticipation of a forthcoming attack from the same aliens decide to take precautionary measure in going forth and destroying the home planet of the aliens themselves. In doing so they employ the expertise of young boys and girls who are subsequently put through some increasingly difficult tests including some one to one fights in 0 g environment.
Ender Wiggin(Asa Butterfield), is what seems to the last and lone hope for the earth’s defenses as he shows every trait necessary to be the next leader of the defense forces of earth. However his sudden upsurges of kindness and sometimes his acts of violence keep him in odd situations with the authority as well as his compatriots. He makes his way through a long list of hurdles to find himself face to face with one man who had previously single handedly destroyed the mighty Formics. The man known as Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). Rackham takes up Ender’s final few assignments before he jumps into the real battle but on the final day of evaluations something happens which changes Ender’s Game forever.
The film dwells not on the genesis of the aliens, their enmity with earth, their reason for the attack but only on the conflict. Thorough the repeated portrayal of the attacks and the daring feets of Mazer Rackham, the director infuses a sense of hate in us for the aliens and justifies the reason for Ender to be a tad bit inhuman. Herein lays the strength of the narrative because by the time we reach the climax, this feeling is turned upside down to create an interesting effect when Ender himself starts questioning the reason or need for destroying a whole planet in protection from a war which might not even happen.
Ender constantly tries to connect to the environment outside the controlled boundaries of the training facility through his psychic upsurges which takes him to places that no one else would have expected. The general himself in charge of the training facility keeps asking questions about Ender’s reach through his mental prowess and tries to limit his grasp. However, Ender by the time the story ends is able to piece together all the broken fragments to have a crystal clear look of things. He has a friend in Petra (Hailee Steinfed) who not only protects him but also adores him. Petra is the only one who is able to grasp the conflicts going on inside Ender and also be a part of it.
The film is a viscerally created visual saga which brings to our notice the many conflicts and confusions of the human nature and world. Feelings like jealousy, anger, hatred, love, friendship, bonding etc. Based on the source material and keeping an almost gloomy feel all throughout the take, Ender’s Game is an interesting watch. While many have sighted it as an underwhelming rendering from a sparkling source material, I had the advantage of not reading the book and so had my vessel completely empty. Thus I was devoid of any prior notions for the film and that in some strange way contributed to me liking the film at varied levels.
The visuals are stunning throughout. Be it the 0 g fights or the barren home planet of the Formics, the visual wizadry finds its grasp on every little aspect of the film. The performance by the principal cast was awesome. Asa Butterfield essays Ender with such conviction that one and all are bound to love it. He is no mug in this game as all might know who have seen him in Hugo. He is a picture of perfection. Harrison Ford as general Graff does what he is supposed to do. Ben Kingsley again proves his worth in an interesting role. Hailee Steinfed doesn’t have much to do apart from looking beautiful.
Overall, Ender’s Game is an interesting watch. The concept may not be exactly novel and never done before but the execution is spot on. The fantastic acting and the impressive visual effects more than make up for the not so interesting story line. For those who wait patiently, there are a few twists and turns in the end too.