“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.” Ender Wiggin
Ender’s Game is a story of relationships, courage, discipline, self control, and learning how to win without losing yourself in the process.
Although I saw this movie on opening day last November, I couldn’t wait to view it again on DVD. Of course I’m always interested in what is included in the extras and the DVD version has a number of extended scenes and cutting floor clips that director Gavin Hood wishes he could have left in the theatrical release.
Outside of it being a Fall Block Buster, teen actor Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Hugo), was the main reason I wanted to see this film. After viewing two of his previous films, I knew Asa would be a young actor whose film career I would continue to follow. Of course playing across from actor giants Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley was truly the clincher for me.
While Ender’s Game starts out much differently that Hugo with its eye popping first scene, Ender’s Game is no slouch with its inclusions of special effects and eye candy. However, it’s the story that made me a fan and believer, more than CGI effects.
Asa masterfully captures the films version of the lead character Ender Wiggin, a shy and tender boy with an intellect not easily matched among his peers. The youngest of three siblings, an older brother Peter, played by Jimmy “Jax” Pinchak whom he emulates but whose footsteps he has no desire to follow and an older protective sister “Valentine, played by Abigail Breslin, who wants him to be safe yet desires him to succeed where others have failed. A Father and Mother who are proud of him yet conflicted about letting him go. All these relationships that are portrayed on the screen and unfold at different times throughout the film enlighten us to who Ender is and what he must overcome in order to fulfill his destiny.
I think what stands out the most about Butterfield is his ability to show emotion on film. His tears are real. His facial expressions of fear, anxiety, depression, joy, pride, and shame all convincingly portrayed though his eyes and body expressions. Similar to the acting skills of Elijah Wood, Asa is not only able to capture the personality of the characters he portrays, but become them.
What can be said about Harrison Ford or Ben Kingsley that has not already been said? These two amazingly skilled actors made this film complete. Its one thing to be convincing in your role and yet another to make your fellow actors believe in your character. These two men surely made Asa’s job much easier, having their experience and skill to play off of.
Colonel Hyrum Graff: “We need minds like yours, Ender. You’ll be the finest commander we’ve ever trained”
Ender Wiggin: “So I’m Not the First?”
Mazer Rackham: “No, but you will be the last.”
I would be remiss if I did not mention a few other actors who deserve recognition for their performances. Ender’s first true alley at the training academy is “Petra Arkanian” played by the beautiful “Hailee Steinfeld”.
Introducing herself to Ender with a hand shake and warm welcome you knew instantly that Ender would be alright. While many may have wished for this friendship to grow into something more, Ender had no time for distractions. His goal at the school was set… He must learn how to be a leader and ultimately a commander. This was made perfectly clear in a discourse with “Drill Sergeant Dap” played by “Nonso Anozie”!
Sergeant Dap: “You think you’re the smartest kid in the school?
Ender Wiggin: “No sir”
Sergeant Dap: “You will never be a commander! I will never salute you!”
Ender Wiggin: “Yes you will sergeant.”
Another mutual friendship develops over time as Ender begins to earn the respect of some of his male cadet counterparts. “Bean”, played by “Aramis Knight” is a small but industrious quick thinker who also earns Ender’s respect on the first day with his amazing ability to control his body in zero gravity!
Knight has a long list of Television credits and a few small roles in some full feature films. He was a real stand out in ths movie and actually stole a few scenes with his charm, wit, and camera prowess!
I guess the greatest thing I took away from this movie was the underlying theme of winning at all costs or costing everything to win! In the final segment of the film Ender is told by Colonel Graff ….
“It was Them or Us! With this battle we have won all future battles” “We won that’s all that matters”…. “No, says Ender… “The way we win matters”
In a world where winning seems to be everything this movie helps drive home the point that how we win and how we play the game defines who we are!
This is a must see movie not because it’s full of adventure, excitement and just an all around good coming of age film. But because it teaches that we should treat others with respect, give them the benefit of the doubt and when winning is required WIN HONORABLY!