Ender's Game: Five Things to Know About the Long Awaited YA Space Epic

What to keep in mind when you go see the sci-fi flick this weekend

By Peter Paras Nov 03, 2013 10:03 PMTags
Ender's GameSummit Entertainment

In the future, an alien race of huge buggers nearly obliterated the human race on planet Earth. Decades later, military leaders have focused their efforts on training kids as our future protectors. Ender Wiggins (Hugo's Asa Butterfield) is one such kid. He has no friends and not much of a family. All the better for Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), who sees something in him. Not just the smarts to win, but to win so definitively that they will cancel out any future battles.

Ender maybe be our last hope if his fellow classmates don't kill him first.

Based on Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel, the film stars Butterfield along with Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and -super quickly - Abigail Breslin (The Call).

Here are five things to know about the latest YA book to hit the big screen:

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1. It Gets Better… in Space! Whatever the thoughts are on author Orson Scott Card's stance on gay marriage (he's not a fan), this story is one of tolerance. Ender is the furthest from a typical alpha male and he's bullied for it. A lot. We were definitely rooting for him to overcome the bullying of testosterone-pumped jerks like his Salamander commander Bonzo Madrid who, incidentally, is former Hannah Montana star Moises Arias. The former geek's 180 turn as an evil teen is as weird to witness as Miley's latest antics.

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2. Like Quidditch… in Space! See It In IMAX. Yes, the book was written in '85, way before Potter got to Hogwarts, but the anti-gravity training sessions feel very familiar to the ones that benefited from having a Nimbus 2000 . Both games have that weird "only in fiction" specialty play where one move can mean victory, regardless of an opponent's higher score. On the large screen, the IMAX format gives a terrific sense of space and scale.

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3. Ford Leads a Stellar Supporting Cast…in Space! Ford's Colonel Graff is all speeches. So is Davis as Gwen Anderson and the face-tattooed mystery man played by Sir Kingsley. Granted, the story is mostly about youngsters like Ender, but the trio of thespians find themselves mostly set adrift with not much to do.

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4. No Time For Love, Dr. Jones…in Space! A dude wrote Ender's Game while gal Suzanne Collins wrote Hunger Games. Collins, like Stephanie Meyer, sometimes placed too much emphasis on her characters' love lives. Ender Wiggins is all business even though the adorable Haliee Steinfeld (Romeo & Juliet) makes cute as Petra Arakanian. Is J.K.  Rowling the only author that can balance, otherworldly tales with down to Earth young love?

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5. Can a Sequel Happen…in Space?! Fans of the book will no doubt notice the numerous differences made from page to screen. The most obvious are the brief appearances of Ender's siblings like barely-there Abigail Breslin as his sister, Valentine. Also trimmed, the time spent in battle school and Ender's more psychotic tendencies. The biggest head scratcher will be what kind of a follow-up Summit pictures comes up with. In a few of the books, Bean (Aramis Knight) becomes the lead. As for Ender? The direct follow-up was Speaker for the Dead, which takes place 3,000 years after the events in Ender's Game where Ender through time stuff is 35 years old. Would the studio forsake these for a more traditional sequel that would allow them to use the same actors?

Loved the book? Seen the film? What can be done to continue the series? Sound off in the comments!