Ender's Game (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gavin Hood|
|Screenplay by||Gavin Hood|
|Based on||Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
|Music by||Steve Jablonsky|
|Editing by||Zach Staenberg|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment
|Running time||114 minutes|
Ender's Game is a 2013 American science fiction action film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card. Directed and written by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military academy in outer space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The cast includes Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley.
The film was released in Germany on October 24, 2013, followed by a release in the United Kingdom and Ireland one day later. It was released in the United States, Canada, and several other countries on November 1, 2013, and will be released in many other territories through January 2014.
Years later, a young cadet named Andrew "Ender" Wiggin beats a school bully named Stilson at a hand-held virtual game while Colonel Hyrum Graff and Major Gwen Anderson from the International Fleet watch via hidden cameras. Ender is summoned to have the monitor on the back of his neck removed. When Stilson and his gang attack him, Ender retaliates and violently beats Stilson. Ender returns home and confesses grief over his actions to his sister Valentine. Their older brother Peter interrupts them and convinces Ender to play a game. He then begins choking Ender, threatening to kill him but pulls back. Graff and Anderson visit the Wiggin family and offer Ender a place in Battle School, admitting that the final test was to see how Ender would react to his monitor's removal. Graff talks privately with Ender and is able to convince him to accept, because Ender believes that "it was what he was born for".
Ender is the last "launchie" to arrive at the shuttle taking off for Battle School. Upon arrival, the launchies are introduced to Sergeant Dap, who explains how the school's Battle Room works. Ender soon gains the respect of the other launchies. Anderson authorizes for Ender to discover the "mind game", a way for the school to secretly gauge the emotional state of the students in the form of a video game. Ender's form in the mind game, a mouse, meets a giant who offers him two drinks, one of which he claims is poisoned. After finding both drinks to be poisoned, Ender has his character leap into the giant's eye, killing him. Anderson comments that she has never seen anyone do this.
Ender is transferred to Salamander Army, where he meets Commander Bonzo Madrid and Petra Arkanian, who offers to teach him how to shoot during free time. Bonzo takes a disliking to Ender. During their first battle he orders him to hang back and observe once everyone else has entered. Ender disobeys, aiding Petra, and the two formulate a plan to win with a surprise attack.
Ender continues with the mind game, seeing what looks like a Formic materialize and dissolve before him. He follows an animated version of Valentine to a collapsed castle, where he fights a snake and sees an animated version of Peter. Anderson is unable to explain to Graff how Ender's brother ended up in the mind game. Graff gives Ender command of Dragon Army. They climb to the top of the school's rankings. Despite overwhelming odds, Ender defeats two armies at once, including Bonzo's Salamander Army. In retaliation, Bonzo challenges Ender to a fight in the shower. In self-defense, Ender seriously injures Bonzo, who is sent home to recover. Ender threatens to resign unless he can see his sister. Graff allows Ender to return to Earth, where Valentine convinces him to re-enlist.
Via faster-than-light travel, Ender and Graff go to "a former Formic colony world near their home world", where the International Fleet has established a command base in a former Formic outpost. Ender meets Mazer Rackham, who explains the outcome of the battle that led to his apparent death. He announces his intention to program simulations to challenge Ender and tells him about a deadly weapon in Earth's fleet called the Molecular Detachment device. Assembling Ender's core friends from Battle School, together they engage in several skirmishes. "Graduation Day" is to be their final test, a simulation that takes place near the Formics' home planet. Using the MD device, Ender eradicates the forces surrounding the planet. Every ship on the planet rallies to stop him, but he gets Petra a clear shot with the device again, annihilating the planet. Graff reveals that the final simulation was a real battle and that Ender has extinguished the Formics in reality. He tells Ender he will be remembered as a hero, but a remorseful Ender says he will be remembered as a killer.
After being sedated and carried to his room, Ender realizes that the Formics had tried to communicate with him in the mind game. He rushes to a mountain similar to the one he saw in the game and finds a Queen with a single Queen egg remaining. He promises to find a planet for the egg. Ender dictates a letter to Valentine; after being promoted as Admiral, he takes off into space in a ship with the egg.
- Asa Butterfield as Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. In a 1999 interview, Orson Scott Card confirmed that Jake Lloyd was under consideration for the role. Card asked fans not to judge Lloyd based on his performance in The Phantom Menace, saying that a better script and direction would result in a better performance. In July 2008, Card stated that he would like to see Nathan Gamble play Ender, and expressed regret that he was "probably too old" for the part.
- Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff. Early in the film's development, Card considered changing Graff to a female, and recommended a "dry comic" such as Janeane Garofalo or Rosie O'Donnell for the role.
- Hailee Steinfeld as Petra Arkanian
- Abigail Breslin as Valentine Wiggin
- Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham, a war hero whose father is Maori. Kingsley spent over an hour in makeup to have Tā moko tattoos applied. Mazer tells Ender they allow him to "speak for the dead", a nod to the book's sequel, Speaker for the Dead. In a 1998 interview, Card suggested Andre Braugher or Will Smith for the role.
- Kyle Russell Clements as Young Mazer Rackham
- Viola Davis as Major Gwen Anderson
- Aramis Knight as Bean
- Suraj Parthasarathy as Alai
- Moisés Arias as Bonzo
- Khylin Rhambo as Dink
- Jimmy Pinchak as Peter Wiggin
- Nonso Anozie as Sergeant Dap
- Conor Carroll as Bernard
- Caleb J. Thaggard as Stilson. Brendan Meyer was originally cast in the role, but had to leave the production due to a scheduling conflict.
- Cameron Gaskins as Pol Slattery (Leopard Army)
- Stevie Ray Dallimore as John Paul Wiggin
- Andrea Powell as Theresa Wiggin
- Brandon Soo Hoo as Fly Molo
- Orson Scott Card as Pilot (voice cameo)
Since Ender's Game was published in 1985, author Orson Scott Card had been protective of the film rights and artistic control for the novel. Card explained that he had many opportunities through the 1980s and 1990s to sell the rights of Ender's Game to Hollywood studios, but refused when creative differences became an issue. With the formation of Fresco Pictures in 1996 (which Card co-founded), the author decided to write the screenplay himself.
In a 1998 interview, Card discussed the process of adapting the novel into a screenplay.
The first decision I made was not to pursue the Peter—Valentine subplot with the Internet, because that's just watching people type things into the computer. The second decision I made was to give that information about the surprise at the end from the start. In my script we know who Mazer Rackham really is and we know what is at stake as Ender plays his games. But Ender doesn't know, so I think the suspense is actually increased because the audience knows we're about the business of saving the world and that everything depends on this child not understanding that. We care all the more about whether he wins—and we worry that he might not want to. As we watch the adults struggle to get control of Ender, we pity him because of what's happening to him, but we want the adults to succeed. I think it makes for a much more complex and fascinating film than it would have been if I had tried to keep secrets.
In 2003, Card submitted a screenplay to Warner Bros., at which time David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were hired to collaborate on a new script in consultation with the then-designated director Wolfgang Petersen. Four years later, Card wrote a new script not based on any previous ones, including his own. In an interview with Wired, Card admitted two obstacles in writing his scripts were being able to "externalize" Ender's thoughts and making it work, "for people who had never read the book."
Card announced in February 2009 that he had completed a script for Odd Lot Entertainment, and that they had begun assembling a production team. In September 2010, it was announced that Gavin Hood was attached to the project, serving as both screenwriter and director. Card said he had written "about six" different scripts before Hood took over. In November 2010, Card stated that the film's storyline would be a fusion of Ender's Game and its parallel novel, Ender's Shadow, focusing on the important elements of both. However, in October 2013, he explained that this "buddy-movie approach" between Ender and Bean was a proof of concept and once Hood took over he decided to utilize Petra as more of a major character. On January 28, 2011, it was reported that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman would be producing the work and would begin presenting the script to prospective investors.
On April 28, 2011, it was announced that Summit Entertainment had picked up the film's distribution and Digital Domain joined Odd Lot Entertainment in a co-production role. Gavin Hood joined as director, using Hood's script adaptation, and Donald McAlpine joined as cinematographer. The Producers include creative producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman of K/O Paper Products, producers Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough of Odd Lot Entertainment, and producer John Textor of Digital Domain. Executive producers include David Coatsworth, Bill Lischak, Cliff Plumer and Ed Ulbrich. The film was also produced by Lynn Hendee of Chartoff Productions, who has worked with Card on the development of the film for over 15 years, and Robert Chartoff. In an interview with Brigham Young University newspaper The Universe, Card said that his role as co-producer was in the early stages and that the screenplay is 100% Hood's. Special effects workshop Amalgamated Dynamics provided the special character effects for the film, with founder Tom Woodruff Jr. providing character suit performances.
Ender's Game is the first film to offer 3D printed replicas of in-film 3D assets. Summit Entertainment collaborated with a 3D printing service to open a new merchandising platform offering fans the unique ability to customize and build 3D prints from assets used in production.
In July 2013, the group Geeks Out launched a website campaign to boycott the film in protest of Orson Scott Card's views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. In response to the boycott, Card released a statement in July to Entertainment Weekly:
Ender's Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.
Producer Roberto Orci responded in Entertainment Weekly in March that he was not aware of Card's views when he took on development of the film adaptation. He said that "the movie should be judged on its message, not the personal beliefs of the original author", who had minimal involvement in the film. Orci also stated that "if it's on the screen, then I think it's fair game." Lions Gate Entertainment released a statement distancing themselves from Card, stating that "as proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community [...] we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card", and that Card's views are "completely irrelevant" to the film adaptation.
The film has received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, records a score of 51 based on 39 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average reviews". On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 61% approval rating based on 176 reviews, with an average score of 6.1/10. The site's consensus states: "If it isn't quite as thought-provoking as the book, Ender's Game still manages to offer a commendable number of well-acted, solidly written sci-fi thrills."
As of November 24, 2013[update], Ender's Game has grossed $57.3 million in North America and $22 million in other parts of the world, for a worldwide gross of over $79 million. It made $27,017,351 and was the top film in North America during its opening weekend.
- IMDb: Release dates for Ender's Game Linked 2013-05-14
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- "Tom Woodruff, Jr. - Creature Effects Designer & Monster Suit Performer". stanwinstonschool.com. 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
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- "Ender's Game Actually Begins Production". I Am Rogue. February 29, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
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- "Sandboxr and Summit Entertainment team up for unique merchandising venture". John Graber. 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- Child, Ben (July 9, 2013). "Activists call for Ender's Game boycott over author's anti-gay views". The Guardian. Retrieved July 10, 2013. "US group Geeks Out launches 'Skip Ender's Game' website, citing novelist Orson Scott Card's opposition to gay marriage"
- Quinn, Annalisa (July 10, 2013). "Book News: 'Ender's Game' Author Responds To Boycott Threats". NPR. Retrieved July 10, 2013. "The queer geek group Geeks OUT is organizing boycotts and "Skip Ender's Game" events in several U.S. cities because of Card's views on homosexuality."
- Smith, Grady (July 8, 2013). "INSIDE MOVIES 'Ender's Game' author Orson Scott Card responds to critics: The gay marriage issue is 'moot' — EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly.
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- Deutsch, Lindsay (July 12, 2013). "Lionsgate responds to calls for 'Ender's Game' boycott". USA Today. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
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- Official media sites
- Official website
- Ender's Game on Tumblr
- "Ender's Game" on Google+
- "Ender's Game" on Twitter
- Ender's Game (film)'s channel on YouTube
- Movie databases
- Ender's Game at the Internet Movie Database
- Ender's Game at allmovie
- Ender's Game at Box Office Mojo
- Ender's Game at Metacritic
- Ender's Game at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official Trailer
- Other links
- Billington, Alex (July 24, 2013). "Interview: 'Ender's Game' Director Gavin Hood & Producer Bob Orci". firstshowing.net.