Just in case you forgot that the release of Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game is right around the corner, Summit Entertainment is doing their damndest to remind you of that fact. In this instance their efforts take the form of seven, yes, seven, new clips. This is practically a gallery of videos.
The first clip gives you a nice view of the battle between the ships commanded by Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) and the alien race called Formics as their ships swarm around a giant block of space ice. A longer look than what we’ve previously seen from this moment in the film, this looks more like part of an elaborate training exercise, or at least what Ender believes is a training exercise, rather than footage from and according to Hoyle military skirmish. We’ll have to wait and see how the film plays with this reveal, but we can get to that.
After a disastrous war against the Formics — humanity ultimately emerged victorious, but it was a costly victory — the international military has taken to recruiting gifted youngsters in order to find the next great military mind. In this video we get our first peek at Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) trying to talk Ender into coming to Battle School, the orbiting military academy where this intense training goes down. He plays upon the child’s sense of duty, as well a giving subtle nudges to is adolescent ego.
This clip serves as something of an orientation video for recruits fresh off the shuttle at Battle School. Bits and pieces of this have appeared in previous TV spots and trailers, but this provides a little more context, and lays out the goals in a clearer, straightforward fashion. And you get some kickass shots of airplanes and aliens in a massive dogfight, which is never a bad thing. You get that the heroic actions of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) are supposed to be awe-inspiring, but the scope and spectacle of clips like this leave the distinct impression that Ender’s Game teeters dangerously close to big, dumb, and empty territory.
In Graff’s eyes, these aren’t really children under his command. Comparing them to farm animals, to livestock, provides a pretty good indication of how he views their existence. He doesn’t care — in his view he can’t afford to care — if he pushes them beyond their breaking points and they snap, because that’s not a luxury the human race has. Why argue about what will be left of these children when he’s finished with them, when if they don’t succeed, there won’t be anyone left to argue at all. This do-the-ends-justify-the-means debate forms one a sort of philosophical center of Ender’s Game.
Ender is not first recruit to walk along this path, he is just the latest in a long line, all of whom have washed out and failed. As Rackham says here, Ender is destined to be the final one, though that may not be a cut and dry as it sounds, and his statement has a bit of a double meaning. Perhaps he is the chosen one, and will emerge victorious. But win or lose, he will be the last, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be successful. If he falls flat on his face and lets the enemy win, there simply won’t be anyone left to follow in his footsteps. Not too much pressure to put on a kid, is it?
In situations like this, you can never be entirely ready. All you can do is hope and pray that you’re ready enough to make it through, to do what needs to be done and come out the other side more or less in one piece. Ender may not be as seasoned as his superiors would like, but he’s as prepared as the situation allows for him to be, and he’s the best shot the human race has. He has the ability to empathize with the enemy, to think like them, and, ideally, to anticipate their moves in battle, to head them off before they can act.
One thing is for sure in Ender’s Game, if the protagonist doesn’t pull our collective bacon out of the fire, no one can. He’ll either be the hero, or the guy who lets the entire human race become extinct.
Ender’s Game opens on November 1st.