Ender’s Game is the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel written in 1985. The film stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a child hand-picked and trained by the government to be the savior of the planet, and Harrison Ford as Colonel Hyrum Graff, the lead commander in the battle against the upcoming invasion of earth by an alien species.
Ender lives in a future where the earth has been invaded once by alien enemies, and the only way the earth survived was through the courage of one man who gave his life to save the earth. Using his sacrifice as an example, the government trains children in military strategy and battle tactics with the use of video games all under the guise of saving the planet from a future invasion. Ender is chosen out of all these children for his cunning mind and leadership abilities, and his training intensifies as he learns that he is the chosen child to possibly save all of humanity. With the use of his staggering intellect and strategy, Ender embraces his new role as martyr-in-training and becomes the youngest commander ever, but Ender finds out that his training may not be the game that he thought it was.
When Ender steps into the virtual cockpit of a ship or flies in zero gravity across the battle room, the audience comes along for the ride. Director Gavin Hood uses camera angles and special effects to replicate the feeling of floating in space in zero gravity and zooming through battles in the cockpit of a fighter jet. As Ender explains, there is no up or down in space, no vertical or horizontal. So, when the characters are in zero gravity the camera angle reflects this and the audience feels like they are spinning and floating along with the characters. In battle scenes, the audience gets lost in Ender’s world and comes along for the fast-paced, dizzying twists and turns that jets take during battle.
The central message of the film was contained in the dialogue between the characters. In one of the most well known quotes of the book and movie Ender says “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’s Game explains how Ender was able to defeat his enemy, but also asks the question, how do you know someone is your true enemy? The film explored the morality of war and examined both the best and worst qualities of human nature.
In the end, Ender discovers that the game is only what he creates, and there are no parameters except the ones that he allows to box him in. This is how Ender creates his own game, and the mindset he has when he enters the final battle scene where the story comes to full finality and the audience discovers the true nature of Ender’s Game.