So last October this family-friendly bold SF movie hit cinemas, adapted from the respected and acclaimed 1985 novel from author Orson Scott Card. It has taken over twenty plus years for it to make it to the big screen, although Card has stated that plenty of offers were made but always creative differences to plot stopped him allowing it to happen until now.
Orson Scott Card also personally produced six or more drafts of the script, adapting his book and then merging it with one of his sequels while attempting to find the right tone.
Besides this, just prior to the release, a significant controversy hit news media, due to the right-wing views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage from Scott Card.
This may have seriously affected the success on release, though the producer suggested that the views of Card should be seen as seperate from the story of the film, and that it was originally written in 1984.
After this, there has also been another critical view on the theme of the use of children in the story to fight war and how this is shown.
Even with these issues, the film did seem to still perform very well on release, at least in America.
I did stay away from this movie for a while, slightly interested and I had read about the book gaining awards and success years earlier and Scott Card seemed to be a recognized and respected SF author.
Seeming that it was more aimed at a child/family audience, I missed it at cinema, prefering to see Elysium and Gravity last year more importantly.
I think that when I did finally see one or two trailers for the film, I then did find that it actually might be worth seeing. After that though, the controversy around the opinions and beliefs of Scott Card emerged.
I might not be comfortable with either the supposed right-wing homophobic views of Card or the championing of child soldiers for use in wars or battles (whild does actually happen overseas in the East and Third World), but with the special effects looking fantastic and promise in the story and trailers, I still had interest in seeing the movie.
(I will add that I have not read any of the Ender books).
Right from the start, the film does look spectacular, but it does build up a familiar comfortable family sci-fi movie story. Young Ender with his family, his curious attitude, and increasing interest in space and the known alien wars of the past, fifty years previously. Soon Colonel Hyrum Graff (played by a very grumpy Harrison Ford) comes to collect young Ender and take him up for space fleet training.
Soon we see the strong willed Ender put with similar kids for battle training, he feels alone, learns that he might be the special one, gets picked on by the bully kid later. Colonel Graff continued to groom Ender, monitor him and eventually move Ender into higher level training groups. Ender learns his fighting skills, dicipline but questions some of the training and techniques.
Initially I was skeptical about the lead actor, Asa Butterfield as Ender, but he does gradually lead the film well enough, while most of the other young actors are thin and blank, their parts mostly predictable. Harrison Ford was actually more entertaining and funny than I expected, eventually becoming quite dark and nasty while Ben Kingsley as msterious Mazer Rackham is not quite so impressive, but good enough in his role.
While at times, a predictable kid’s sci-fi movie with a feel of The Last Starfighter or Phantom Menace, it does hold a number of engaing moments when Ender questions the motives of the training and war. Also I really don not think that the movie has had enough said about the visual effects which really are very fantastic at times, especially the space stations, battles sequences and aliens.
I think that overall, the ethical and moral issues which may have harmed the movie, were generally resolved and it is actually a very entertaining and worthwhile recent science fiction movie that you can watch with your kids, and it does hold offer some valable questions about why we go to war.