An adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic science fiction novel, Ender’s Game, has been a thorn in the side of many a filmmaker. It’s been in the works seemingly forever, but we will finally see it for real on November 1, 2013, from director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
Summit Entertainment, which is setting the story of Andrew “Ender” Wiggin up as a new young-adult-targeted franchise in line with The Hunger Games, has released an official synopsis of the adventure.
Here it is in its entirety:
In the near future, a hostile alien race (called the Formics) have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young children to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy, but strategically brilliant boy is pulled out of his school to join the elite.
Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham, himself, to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
The basic building blocks are all in place, but from this description, there are going to be some major changes made moving Ender’s Game from page to screen. It looks like more emphasis will be placed on the battles, while in the book the majority of the action takes place in the training facility. Ender spends years there, preparing to combat the resurgent alien force, making friends, enemies, and honing himself into a command-barking tool of war.
In Card’s novel, it’s a big reveal late in the plot that Mazer Rackham is training Ender. It appears that narrative thread will play a bigger role and take up more of the story than in the source material. Or they just gave away a sizable plot point.
Overall, the impression from this synopsis is that there will be less emphasis placed on Ender’s younger, formative days, while more attention will be paid to events that take up relatively little space in the book. You get the feeling his time at the first stop on his journey will be glossed over with little more than a training montage. If they do in fact go that direction, that’s too bad. This section is where all of the heavy lifting, character-wise, is done. That’s where Ender figures out who he is and becomes the man he becomes, which enables him to pull off great feats in the end.
I get why they would make these changes. In a movie like this you want big spectacles on screen. Things like epic space battles and computer-generated aliens sell movie tickets. Let’s just hope that they don’t sacrifice all of the things that make Ender’s Game a compelling story in exchange for empty visual pyrotechnics.