November 1 feels like it’s a long way off, but in reality, Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel Ender’s Game, is just around the corner. We’re so close, in fact, that Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate have released the second, and supposedly final, trailer for the highly anticipated adventure. And this time around, the emphasis is definitely placed on that part of the story.
Intense sci-fi action is the order of the day, as almost this entire video is taken up by space oriented combat. Even with the fumbling voiceover, the finished product looks incredibly promising, and I can’t wait to see these visuals flashing across an eight-story high IMAX screen. It begins with destruction on a massive scale, and that trend continues throughout. The look and feel is spot on, from the alien invasion, the IF ships, and even that futuristic car pulling up to a rickety dock. Fans of the book will recognize the scenes set in the zero gravity battle room, another thing we’re looking forward to seeing projected real big.
In the near future an alien race called Formics invade Earth, and though, through the heroics of a commander named Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), we win, it is a devastating battle. In order to prevent this from happening again, the military recruits promising children, those who display certain tactical aptitudes, for Battle School. As the trailer says, they can see in a way that their older counterparts cannot. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is one of these recruits. Shy, withdrawn, and younger and smaller than his fellow students, he is strategically brilliant, and may be the best hope humanity has.
From the look of the film, the threat of reinvasion is more imminent than in Card’s book. At times in the novel you wonder how real the enemy actually is, if there is even the possibility of the aliens reappearing, while here, you get the impression that we’re on the verge of another disastrous conflict.
This brings up a question I’ve been curious about for some time. SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book. In the novel, Ender engages in what he thinks are exercises, mock-ups, war games, but in reality, he’s commanding the armada. He doesn’t know it, but his decisions have real world consequences. So I can’t help but wonder how much of the action here is real, and how much is a simulation? What’s real, what just looks real, what does he think is real, what does he think is staged? The recreations during battle school, and Ender’s later training with Rackham himself, are portrayed at pretty damn intense, so it wouldn’t shock me to learn that some of what we see in this trailer comes from training.
If this is all real, then the movie deals even more head on than the novel with the problematic moral issue of using child soldiers, of putting them in harm’s way, even if they are, like Ender has been called, convincing little Napoleons in short pants.
There is also the issue of the widespread boycotts surrounding Ender’s Game. Card has made his stance on gay rights known time and time again, opposing gay marriage, and even calling for the criminalization of homosexuality. In response, a number of gay rights groups have called for people to Skip Ender’s Game. For what it’s worth, Lionsgate hasn’t shied away from this controversy, making it known that they stand in direct opposition to Card’s views, and are even holding a special premiere to benefit gay rights groups. Hood recently chimed in on the matter, calling it a sad irony that Card wrote a book about a young man trying to find a place in the world, one that mirrors that of many gay youth, while he himself struggles with those issues.