Controversy and mixed reviews orbit ‘Ender’s Game’

by Robin Gracia

Controversy and mixed reviews orbit “Ender’s Game”

Image from IMDB.com

Image from IMDB.com

In “Ender’s Game”, the Nebula Award-winning 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card, Earth was invaded by an alien race called the Formics. Millions of people fought and died to protect the planets’ water supply. All would have been lost if not for the International Military Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, who flew his jet into the mothership and destroyed it. To avoid being unprepared for a future attack, the fleet began recruiting child prodigies into their academy to groom future strategists. The book was recently adapted into a futuristic thriller for moviegoers to enjoy.

The film follows the life of adolescent Ender Wiggin, played by Asa Butterfield, and his struggles with fellow cadets and authority figures in Battle School. Ender’s characteris an enigma; while he carries himself in a passive and detached manner, he justifies anassault against a bully who was already down on the ground by claiming it was “to stop all of the future fights.”

The head of Battle School, Colonel Hyrum Graff, played by Harrison Ford, pushes Ender both mentally and physically in the hopes Ender will rise as a tactical yet merciless leader of the International Military Fleet.

“Ender’s Game” contains a good cast but the dark emotions can become lost in stoic translation. Ender outwardly appears to distance himself from his propensity towards violence while understanding the necessity to strike an enemy swiftly and without hesitation.

In private, however, he cries in frustration over not being able to understand his enemy.

According to Ender, one must comprehend the mindset of their opponent in order to defeat them. One must also love their enemy before destroying them.

While the movie tackles quite a few story lines into its 114-minute run time, it can leave some viewers with more questions than answers.

Harrison Ford at the Pacific Design Center in ...

Harrison Ford at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I wanted to like ‘Ender’s Game’ but barely anything seemed to work for me,” said Aaron D., a movie reviewer on RottenTomatoes.com. “The worst problem is that it feels very rushed. The story moves quickly and I felt there were characters we were supposed to care about but I didn’t. Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield do a great job but the overwhelming cheesiness and super speed like story telling pretty much ruined it for me.”

Many other people didn’t enjoy “Ender’s Game” but not because the film left them dissatisfied. According to The Huffington Post, gay rights groups have called for a boycott of the film, citing Card’s history of opposition to gay rights. The author has been an outspoken advocate against same-sex marriages, which he has claimed is “the end of democracy in America” and refers to homosexuality as a “tragic genetic mix-up”. Card has also claimed that anti-sodomy laws should be upheld in states to punish “unruly gays”.

Card seems to be unmoved by the calling for boycotts. He rebuffs critical remarks of his viewpoints as “savage, lying personal attacks” which do nothing to affect the reception of “Ender’s Game”, claims the author, except “generate additional publicity”.

“I hope that people will realize that they are not getting a true picture of me from these comments,” Card said in the October 2013 issue of Wired magazine. “They’re certainly not anything to do with ‘Ender’s Game’, which was written long ago and has nothing whatsoever to do with gay marriage. I’ll just trust the audience to decide for themselves what the movie actually is, not what other people are saying about me.”

According to IMDb.com, “Ender’s Game” opened in more than 3,400 theaters and grossed an estimated $44 million as of Nov. 8 while costing $110 million to make.

Due to its lukewarm reception, a sequel could be unlikely. Chief Executive Officer of Lionsgate Entertainment Jon Feltheimer said that analysts at the studio “will wait another week or two” before it decides if “Ender’s Game” will make another film based on Card’s-13 novel series. He also said that adapting the project to television is being considered.

Amidst the boycotts and seeming lack of interest from moviegoers, “Ender’s Game” could follow in the footsteps of other box office sci-fi flops such as Tom Cruise’s film “Oblivion” and Will Smith’s “After Earth”.

“I don’t understand what all the fuss is about,” said Amanda Vaughn, a 22-year-old criminal justice major. “People shouldn’t be swayed to see a movie based on a bad review or a special interest group telling them not to. That’s stupid. I believe in gay marriage and loved ‘Ender’s Game’. People should make up their own minds.”

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