Orson Scott Card’s 1985 classic sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game is finally coming to the big screen. Nearly 30 years after the book’s original release, Card has teamed up with Summit Entertainment to create an exciting and visually stimulating adaptation of the imagery-heavy classic. Here are the top ten reasons you should be excited to see Ender’s Game in theatres, starting November 1, 2013.
1. Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley
One of the biggest inital attractions for Ender’s Game is the cast. Not only are the majority of the actors new young, burgeoning, stars in the making, but those future names in film are being supported by two of Hollywood’s biggest veterans. Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley play major supporting roles.
Ford will be playing Colonel Hyrum Graff, Ender’s manipulative handler during his time in the Battle School.
“The relationship between [Harrison] and Asa was very close, but he didn’t overly befriend him off the set. He helped Asa by allowing that slight sense of intimidation to be there.” -Gavin Hood, screenwriter and director of Ender’s Game.
Sir Ben Kingsley, also seen earlier this year in Iron Man 3, will be performing the role of Mazer Rackham, the hero who saved the human race from destruction during the Bugger Invasion 70 years before the time of the story. Rackham is Ender’s mentor and assists in the boy’s training.
2. Stunning Visuals
One of the main reasons it has taken nearly thirty years for Ender’s Game to be adapted into a screenplay is because it was originally though as being too hard to successfully represent on the big screen.
“Ender’s Game is an ‘unfilmable’ book, not because of too much violence but because everything takes place in Ender’s head.” — Orson Scott Card
With the progression in CGI technology, this has been the first time Hollywood has been able to successfully represent the book. Rather than using Card’s complexly detailed idea of how it should look, the visual production of the movie is left to the film’s screenwriter/director, Gavin Hood. If that leaves you skeptical, see what Card’s impressions from his time on set:
“I love looking at well-designed sets – tough enough to be safe for the actors to work on, yet not wasting a dime on anything that won’t show on camera. Haworth and Procter are a great team. [...] The movie is going to look great.”
3. Awesome Story in the Not Too Distant Future
If nothing else, viewers can expect an interesting and expansive story out of Ender’s Game. In the not too distant future, humanity will master the wonders of space travel and begin exploring the universe. On humanity’s journey outside of our solar system, we meet an alien race called the Formics (derogatorily and most commonly referred to as Buggers, due to their insect-like appearance). They begin attacking us with unrelenting frequency. Despite on-going issues on early, humanity decides to unite. The International Fleet was created in an effort to counter the Bugger advance, resulting in the successful defense of Earth and some of humanity’s colonies. In anticipation of a third invasion, the International Fleet began collecting Earth’s brightest children to be trained into the future’s next military leadership. The training takes place in the Battle School, a top-secret space facility.
The story’s main character, Ender, is plucked from his home on Earth and quickly transported to Battle School to begin his journey to greatness.
At its core, Ender’s Game is a story about the internal struggle of a boy growing up into someone he can respect while living a life void of choice.
4. Writer-Director Gavin Hood
The movie is directed by Gavin Hood, who is known for his work on X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Not only did he direct the film, but he also wrote the screenplay. This is not Wood’s first time in a dual-role situation in a film. He had a similar situation with 2005 flick, Tsotsi.
Hood is a long-time fan of the Ender’s Game series. Had had been working for four years to get this film into production. Thankfully, unlike with Wolverine, there have not been any reported production problems or creative control clashes. Fans of the book will be happy to know that Hood will be keeping the film’s ending true to the story told in the book.
“That ending — and the complex moral questions that it raises — is one of the reasons why I love the book, ” said Hood. “I promise you that it is very much there.”
5. Ender’s Game Used Stunt Coordinator From Avatar
One of the biggest challenges facing the production team for Ender’s Game is dealing with the scenes involving the Battle Room, gravity-less room inside the Battle School. Stunt coordinator Garrett Warren was hired to tackle the challenge. Warren was the guy who orchestrated the stunts 2009 blockbuster Avatar. This is what Card had to say about the stunts he witnessed during his set visit.
“…the real challenge has always been the freefall movement of the kids in the battle room. Traditional wire work [...] simply won’t work in the battle room, because wires absolutely depend on gravity.”
“In the battle room, with gravity nullified, there is no up or down. Bodies have to move in ways dependent on inertia, not on gravity. So I always assumed that the battle room would be filmed by animating the human figures and then pasting the actors’ face onto the result, figuratively speaking. The trouble is that there are certain fundamental problems that computer animations have not yet solved. There’s the walking problem, for instance – most animations don’t show footfalls, because it never looks real. Never. Even using motion capture, there’s something false in the way animated feet hit the ground and then flex and extend to move the person forward.”
“But stunt coordinator Garrett Warren took what he learned from the weightless work he did on Avatar built on it. There is a mechanism used for training gymnasts. [...] Warren used this on Avatar, which allows a great deal of apparent freedom of movement in.”
“But all the children playing these roles had to do wire work themselves. Fitted with the wheel rigs, they were being moved through space like puppets – and at every moment, they had to make sure their ‘non-volitional’ movements followed the rules of inertia-driven rather than gravity-driven motion.”
“Warren was watching everything, playing it back again and again, catching any false movements. Get it wrong? Then you do it again. Oh, how these kids suffered! I’m sure many of them had times when they dreaded each day’s work.”
“Their suffering on the wires in the battle room helped them bond into a team. On the wires, there were no stars, no grunts. Everybody had to learn the same skills, do the same moves. They were equals. So filming the battle room did the same job for the cast that the battle room itself was intended to do for the young students in the fictional Battle School – form them into cohesive teams.”
“[I]f Garrett Warren doesn’t get a special technical Oscar for his achievement on this film, then there truly ain’t no justice.”
6. The Film’s Promotional Material is a Great Introduction
The book (of the same name) is based on a truly deep and immersive story, riddled with emotional turmoil and questions surrounding ethics and mortality. As the book goes on, the themes darkens, engaging the reader and bringing the book to life. The promotional material released for the movie so far is very indicative of this. Multiple promotional “propaganda” posters have been released on the internet, all of which you can view on the Ender’s Game official website.
7. Ender’s Game is the First in a Series of Books, All Written by Orson Scott Card
So when you go to see Ender’s Game, opening November 1 in theaters everywhere, you’re likely to fall in love with the story. So then you’ll go home, grab your e-reader of choice and download the book. Then the book will blow your mind and you won’t know how to move on with your life from there. Well, rest assured that this is only the beginning of quite a large library of books, all written by Orson Scott Card himself.
First, there is the sub-series of books, dubbed “The Ender Saga.” There are six books under this title, all focusing on Ender’s life post-Ender’s Game. Speak For The Dead is the follow up to the original book, taking place three thousand and 2 years later. But due to relativistic space travel, Ender himself (now using his full name, Andrew) is only 36, making him only 25 years older than he was at the end of Ender’s Game.
Next is a series called “The Shadow Saga.” Now, this series deviates from Ender. It is written from the perspective of his go-to guy, Bean. This series, also known as “The Bean Quartet,” goes into the politics that the Earth was left with at the end of the first novel. This is very interesting stuff for your inner poli-sci student.
8. Financed and Distributed Through Summit Entertainment
The movie was originally being produced by Warner Brothers studios in 2009 under the direction of Wolfgang Petersen (Troy, Poseidon, Air Force One). But due to creative differences between him and Orson Scott Card, the studio dumped the film.
9. Card Performs a Small Cameo in the Film
Orson Scott Card made a visit to the set in May 2012 to perform a small voice-over cameo in the film. Here is Card’s account of his visit, taken from a blog post.
[blockquote]“I sat, off-camera, reading my sole line, which comes in the middle of a scene between Harrison Ford as Col. Graff and Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin. [I]t was amusing when others asked me how it felt to have my book brought to life.”[/blockquote]
10. Summit Entertainment Paid For Entire Production Costs