In Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card’s Nebula Award winning novel finally gets its silver screen debut and it was worth the wait. It’s a fun sci-fi drama that you can take your teens and pre-teens to see and there’s plenty of material to discuss on the way home.
If you’ve read the book you probably already know the basic plot but for those of you who may not have already read the book I’ll quickly re-hash it for you.
Earth was invaded by the Formic, an insect-like race of aliens also called “buggers”. This alien race was set to colonize Earth until a hero emerged; Mazer Rackham, who ended the war with the Formic. Since then, Earth has been preparing to take the war to the “buggers” by raising an army of highly-intelligent children. These children are trained in Battle School and then sent to the front lines to fight the Formic. Ender Wiggin is the school’s prodigy and this is the story about his time in Battle School and struggle with leaving his family.
There’s much more to this movie (and book) but I’d be wandering into spoiler territory if I share more. It’s a complex story that was very difficult to bring to theaters primarily because the book was written in first person and takes place mostly in Ender’s head.
The movie is extremely well acted and the ensemble cast puts on a performance that left me on the edge of my seat. Asa Butterfield portrayed Ender Wiggin brilliantly. Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis brought their A-games to this film.
Seeing the Battle Room on screen was fantastic. I read Ender’s Game in the late 80’s and have been longing to see the Battle Room scenes on the big screen for decades. The special effects and wire-work combined to make a very believable zero-g environment. The movie came through in these scenes.
The costumes and sets, while simple, really help to convey the idea that there’s no place for convenience or luxuries in this new world. Earth’s International Fleet has a daunting task ahead of itself and can’t spare resources for fancy or comfortable uniforms and accommodations.
There are a number of themes that run throughout the film that should be discussed with your kids if you plan to let them watch the film. The importance of family, how to deal with bullying, is there room for compassion in war, and whether or not the end justifies the means will keep you talking for hours. A lot of food for thought that can also be addressed by reading the book.
This movie does earn its PG-13 rating but it’s certainly not like other movies that skirt the line of an R-rated movie. There are some intense action scenes, a bit of crude language, and some themes that young children will have trouble comprehending. If you kids have seen Star Wars they can handle the imagery in Ender’s Game.
I recommend this movie to teens, pre-teens (with a strong caution), and their parents. I wouldn’t take my 10 year-old to see it but I’m not you. You should see it first and decide for yourself.
I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars and even watch it again in the theater. You can find more reviews of the film at PluggedIn Online, Common Sense Media, and Kids in Mind for more detail information about any objectionable content in this movie.
Did you see the movie or read the book? Will you let your kids watch it?