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The Best of 2013/Honorable Mention: 'Ender's Game'

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Ender's Game (film)


Based one of the most popular children's books at the turn of the century and one of the most likely books forced on kids to read in high school, Ender's Game has finally reached the silver screen in a visually spectacular realization directed by Gavin Hood and featuring a remarkable cast of Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfield, Abigail Breslin and Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley. Unlike a number of recent children/tween/teen books that have been adapted to the screen (Twilight, The Hunger Games, and recently Divergent, The Giver), Ender's Game does not seem to target the teeny-bopper, eagerly-wanting-to-fall-in-love crowd in spite of this being a Summit Entertainment production.

Thankfully, this story does not contain anything like that, nor was it adapted to add an overwhelming romantic subplot. It sticks to its original premise: children being trained to expertly kill off the enemy using 3D computer simulations and highly advanced battlefront thinking. The approach to this story is not specifically tailored to just that concept, but rather a delicate appreciation of a children growing up into adults through frustration, failure, accomplishment, success and various experiences ranging in an entire spectrum of emotions. Asa Butterfield plays Ender with an admirable sense of strength and vulnerability simultaneously. As he moves up in ranks from gifted high school student to a leader of his own platoon of children specializing in highly advanced mental and strategic capabilities, Ender matures and adapts to whatever life throws at him. Harrison Ford plays one of the film's most intriguing characters: a military commandant with his own unique set of experiences. His experiences motivate his methods to training Ender, but there may be a fascinating lesson to learn for both parties.

One man's beliefs may be another man's propaganda and vice versa. As Ender gains enemies and attempts to keep his family and friends closer, the one belief that he struggles with most is what is to be truly believed and why there are no alternatives to a set belief. That questioning is what makes Ender's Game succeed in pushing its central concept of strategy.