Ender’s Game

I’ve never heard of Ender’s Game before until recently. When I was at the cinema last Friday, I saw it was being shown, and vaguely remembered a trailer with Harrison Ford in a science fiction action movie. Based on that, I decided to see it. It turned out to be a story more for kids. Halfway through it, I was like, “Oh no, that’s it? Kids playing video games? Oh shit.”

Well, not just any kids and not just any video games. These are kids recruited by the army to learn and master war games to lead a pre-emptive attack on aliens. Not by actually physically getting into battleships but by commanding the attack from the control station. They play a lot of games to prepare, both video and a futuristic version of paintball conducted in a zero-gravity hall.

So, definitely a movie targeted to kids up till age 15, maybe. I imagine their faces in the theatre glowing with pride and happiness, watching a movie about another kid saving humanity with his video game skills, as they vow to spend even many more hours playing video games when they get home after the movie.

I can’t hate the movie though because it’s such a visual treat. I enjoyed the special effects.

Harrison Ford is wasted as a doting-grandfather version of a kind and understanding colonel. Viola Davis‘s talent is even more wasted as his Major Anderson. She was mostly just standing around looking gorgeous as she expressed compassion via how the kids are just kids and they shouldn’t be pushed too hard. Sir Ben Kingsley has an interesting role as a tough half-Maori mentor, but again, wasted as well, this time both actor and role.

Fortunately the lead actor Asa Butterfield was a very capable anchor for the movie. The 16-year-old did an excellent job portraying Ender Wiggin, a complex character: a young boy who is brilliant and savvy in handling his opponents but at the same time emotionally sensitive and troubled.

So Asa’s work and his role are two things I like about Ender’s Game besides the special effects. I also like it’s anti-war message, especially for a movie targeted to kids. The fifth thing I like is how the movie squeezes in even more diversity by having one of the good-guy supporting characters, Alai, wish Ender with ‘Assalamualaikum. Peace be upon you‘. Not only that, but in another scene Ender greets Alai with ‘Salam‘ as well. That was totally unexpected (I have not read the book), and I thought it was a sweet gesture for the movie to include this.

The sixth thing I like is that there’s no huge cliffhanger ending to irritate me. Yes, there’s an opening at the end for the story to continue, but the ending of the movie itself has a pretty decent closure.

My favourite parts of the movie though are the scenes involving bullying. A relevant topic that is a hot-button issue in these times. The scenes are harrowing but compelling, thought-provoking and heartbreaking. To me they can also serve to inspire kids in the audience to stand up to bullies, and that’s such a wonderful thing.

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6 thoughts on “Ender’s Game

  1. The only thing that has kept me from reading this book or seeing this film is that Orson Scott Card is aggressively homophobic. I try to keep my feelings about authors separate from their work but once I find out that he/she is an unadulterated douche-bag, I don’t want anything to do with him/her. This is why I try to read as little as possible about authors but I somehow managed to hear about him because he’s so vocal with his opinions. I’m not sure if I can put aside my feelings to read/watch this which is a shame because it looks good.

    Mean people suck.

    • Hi Buffy, your comment (and Cindy’s below) has sparked my interest to find out more about the writer of Ender’s Game. I’ve done a very light skimming of some articles and now am very interested to find out more about Orson Scott Card and the anti-gay things he had said.

      Now I remember I did come across a tiny glimpse about Card in the days or weeks before watching the movie, but do not recall a boycott. Please do not think less of me for saying this, but for me personally I cannot support such a boycott, because the man is entitled to his beliefs. Yes I dislike him for being anti-gay and being against gay marriage equality in the U.S. (from what I understand from what I read) and other anti-gay stuff. But his views are his views. I cannot say more at this time because first I need to read up about him and what he had said/done. But you and Cindy have alerted this issue to me, and now I’m very interested in it, and perhaps I might also be inspired to write a post to express my personal thoughts on it.

      I’m so reminded of Salman Rushdie (among other people) who published ‘The Satanic Verses‘ many years ago when I was in my youth! Not just boycott, but there were bans, violent protests and death threats. As a Muslim, I do think he’s an asshole, but I don’t support boycotting him because I think he’s entitled to his views. I had actually gone on to read one or two of his other books.

      Please accept my thanks and admiration for your support and solidarity in gay equality! It means a lot to me personally. I’m really touched. Hugs!

      • I would never think less of you! I don’t think that I would call it a boycott exactly but I find that I can’t concentrate on a person’s work if I know about some of their personal feelings as it detracts from it significantly. I recently tried to read a short story of Card’s which is in a collection of short stories and I just sat there thinking “this guy is such a jerk”. I don’t even know what the story was about.

        Salman Rushdie has the same effect on me. Not because of the Satanic Verses or because of all of the hoopla that occurred from it, but from reading one of his other books. His work is blatantly misogynistic and it just made me angry. As a result, I’ll stay away from his work. I also can’t read H.P. Lovecraft because he was horribly racist and that is conveyed in his work.

        It’s true that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but I hate the thought of supporting people who are horrible to other people. It reminds me of high school. I would never be friends with someone who bullied other people. I want to live in a world where people respect other people and I think that the best way to promote that is to build up and support the people who are kind and to ignore the people who treat other people badly. In the grand scheme of things, me not going to see his film or reading his books isn’t really going to have a huge effect, however it makes me feel better to know that I’m not supporting someone who treats others poorly.

        Hugs right back to you, brother! :) x

        • Thanks so much for taking the time to write that. I understand what you mean and something I can relate to. Their actions can ruin or render it difficult to enjoy their work or take it seriously in the first place. And not just authors or poets but all artists, I guess anyone of any profession.

          It doesn’t matter whether our actions including choosing or not to see a film or read a book will lead to a huge effect or not. It’s important to us as one person, and that’s all that matters. I was just telling someone the other day sometimes I still get funny looks in a supermarket queue when I bring my own bags, still not a major habit for many of us Singaporeans, and it may seem like such a small pointless thing, but I just shrug and do it anyway because it matters to me. Your personal reason if you choose not to watch the film or read Card’s books is higly commendable.

          Thanks again for reading my post and taking the time to write your thoughtful comments, sistah! Cheers.

    • Thank you very much for the compliment about the review, and thanks VERY MUCH MORE for your support for me and other gay people, Cindy! I really appreciate it. Hugs!

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