MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Lionsgate Films
Directed by Gavin Hood. Starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield.
Whenever a person plays a videogame, they are transported into another world in which choices must be made in order to stay alive. Imagine a future in which the fate of the world rests in the hands of the best gamers – what kid wouldn’t like that?
Ender’s Game begins about 100 years from now after the Earth has defeated conquest by an alien invasion. In order to guarantee that it won’t happen again, a government agency is training child geniuses in battle strategy. The selection and training process is authoritarian and brutal, including the use of brain scanning to keep track of candidates. “Ender” Wiggin (Butterfield) is a 12 year-old-boy who may be the last best hope. His brother (Jimmie “Jax” Pinchak) washed out of training for being too violent and his sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) was dismissed for being too compassionate. But Ender seems to have the right stuff.
Under the supervision of a team of instructors (including Harrison Ford, back in space decades after Star Wars) Ender learns not only how to win battles by playing simulation games with his classmates, but how to handle bullies and jealous candidates who are out to get him. Whenever Ender succeeds, his instructors find ways to make things tougher. To whom much is given, much is required.
Ender’s Game is based on a 1985 award-winning YA book by Orson Scott Card that has been read by millions of kids, so the stakes for this franchise were high. By keeping the film’s running time under two hours, the plot moves along briskly and the cast is uniformly good, with Asa Butterfield doing a great job as Ender.
The film is a great allegory about bullying, but it’s full of other thought-provoking ideas, including the loss of individuality that is a required part of every military unit. There are a few light moments in Ender’s Game but, overall, the film is quite serious in its storyline.
(If you have a hard time imagining a world in which children are given great power, take a trip to the grocery store and watch a three-year-old scream and cry their way into getting a candy bar at the register.)
Four halos: A kid-friendly science fiction film – for 5th grade and older – with a moral vision that is surprisingly nuanced
One pitchfork: Scenes of bullying, terrestrial and extraterrestrial; mild swearing and violence.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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