Film: Saving the Earth Is Child's Play in 'Ender's Game'

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | November 7, 2013 | 5:09 PM EST

In the movie, "Ender's Game," our children really are our future.

In 2086, an alien race, known as the Formics, invade Earth.  We defeat them, but not after millions are lost in the conflict.  Fifty years later, they're mobilizing for another invasion, but this time, humanity has invested all its resources to stop this invasion fleet before it reaches Earth.  Their secret weapon: children.

Seeing how children absorb more information - and at a faster rate - than adults, the government, which is rather fascistic, decides that children should lead what's left of Earth's fleet to victory over the Formics.

The child chosen to lead is Ender Wiggins.  He's brilliant, methodical, patient, but also ruthless.  Thinking about everything through a strategic lens, his actions can come off as sociopathic - if not outright robotic.  Nevertheless, he's our best chance for survival.  Yet, the question is will Ender complete his training in time to thwart the coming invasion?

Granted, the main criticism of any film adaptation of a novel is that it lacks the richness of the original text.  "Ender's Game," written by Orson Scott Card, actually was published in 1985 - and Card himself conceded that his book was "unfilmable."  After all, most of the story takes place in Ender's head.

Nevertheless, Card gave his blessing to director Gavin Hood's script and called it a good adaptation, albeit with a few liberties.  The film does pose certain ethical and philosophical questions, especially at the end.

Unlike the "Star Wars" prequels, "Ender's Game" has amazing visuals and special effects, good acting, and a script that doesn't sound like it was written by a third-grader.  Whether you've read the books or not, actor Asa Butterfield's portrayal of Ender as a teenager torn between destroying his enemy - and loving him at the same time - is perfectly executed.

After all, it's a paradoxical role filled with scenes of heavy emotion, but also that of a cold - and calculating - commander hell-bent on the utter destruction of his enemies.  This film is definitely worth the price of admission.