Fight­ing in a dark fu­ture

Chil­dren are the weapon of choice for a mis­sion which re­quires fresh in­tel­li­gence in a bat­tle to over­come a sworn en­emy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES - PIYA SINHA- ROY

BASED on a story writ­ten three decades ago and set in a fu­ture dystopian Earth where chil­dren are ma­nip­u­lated into fight­ing an en­emy race, the film En­der’s Game could make its young adult and fam­ily au­di­ence pon­der what ails pre­sent-day society.

Out in the­atres in South Africa next month, En­der’s Game fol­lows the jour­ney of a young boy En­der Wig­gin, played by Asa But­ter­field, who is sin­gled out from child­hood for his su­pe­rior in­tel­lect and put through ad­vanced war­fare train­ing.

En­der is iso­lated from his com­rades and ma­nip­u­lated into com­mand­ing war against a hos­tile alien race by Colonel Graff, played by Har­ri­son Ford. In do­ing so, En­der be­gins to garner a fas­ci­na­tion and con­nec­tion to the alien en­emy known as Formics.

“It’s about young peo­ple be­ing asked to ac­cept huge re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, be­ing trained for war­fare be­cause it’s pro­posed that they have this ca­pac­ity to ab­sorb in­for­ma­tion quicker than older peo­ple,” Ford told Reuters.

Based on Or­son Scott Card’s novel of the same name pub­lished in 1985, the movie is the first in a se­ries of books, short sto­ries and comics by the au­thor, all part of the so-called “En­der­verse,” which may form the ba­sis of a mul­ti­part film fran­chise for movie studio Lion­s­gate.

The film, which also stars Vi­ola Davis, Ben Kings­ley and Os­carnom­i­nated ris­ing star Hailee Ste­in­feld, fea­tures prom­i­nent themes of the emo­tional im­pact of war­fare on young peo­ple who have been ma­nip­u­lated from child­hood through pro­pa­ganda to de­velop a ha­tred for the en­emy.

En­der’s war­fare train­ing comes from videogames and large-scale com­puter sim­u­la­tions, dis­played with strik­ing spe­cial ef­fects in the film.

But­ter­field said: “En­der’s Game, while writ­ten three decades ago, was “scar­ily ac­cu­rate” in how it res­onated with pre­sent day is­sues.

“The amount of the stuff in the story writ­ten is so rel­e­vant to­day, for ex­am­ple, the in­ter­net and drone war­fare and blog­ging, it was pre­dicted in the story 30 years ago, and now it has hap­pened”.

Davis added that the film may lead au­di­ences to con­sider the big­ger hu­man so­cial con­nec­tion.

“We’ve got­ten in this age of so­cial me­dia that we’ve be­come de­sen­si­tised, where we’ve put things out in the world not know­ing that they have an ef­fect,” Davis said.

The film spot­lights 16-year-old British ac­tor But­ter­field, who gained promi­nence as the lead in Martin Scors­ese’s 2011 fan­tasy ad­ven­ture Hugo. The tall, blue-eyed ac­tor, who be­gan act­ing as a child, said: “En­der was ‘def­i­nitely’ one of the more com­pli­cated char­ac­ters I’ve had to play.

“The amount of depth and in­ten­sity that he ex­pe­ri­ences is re­ally in­ter­est­ing for an ac­tor, it’s al­ways ex­cit­ing to have a role which pushes you in your act­ing abil­ity,” he said.

As En­der climbs the ranks to com­man­der, de­feat­ing his en­e­mies with tac­ti­cal strat­egy and try­ing to find a me­dian be­tween com­pas­sion and cold-hearted vi­o­lence.

“With­out the emo­tional un­der­stand­ing of his en­emy, ( En­der) might not have had the ca­pac­ity to de­feat them. But it also im­poses on him the feel­ing of re­spon­si­bil­ity for what he’s done and obliges him to a be­hav­iour. He feels a re­spon­si­bil­ity to his en­emy, that’s a real emo­tional com­pli­ca­tion for him,” Ford said.

The film is part of a wave of young adult nov­els led by the suc­cess­ful The Hunger Games, the block­buster based on a tril­ogy of nov­els by Suzanne Collins and dis­trib­uted by Lion­s­gate En­ter­tain­ment. The se­quel, Catch­ing Fire, is due out this month.

While Lion­s­gate may hope that En­der’s Game kicks off a fran­chise, it is un­clear if the film, made for $110 mil­lion, will gen­er­ate enough busi­ness to start a new se­ries.

To spawn a se­quel, the movie needs to sell more than $100 mil­lion’s worth of tick­ets dur­ing its run in US and Cana­dian the­atres, es­ti­mates Alan Gould, a Wall Street an­a­lyst who fol­lows Lion­s­gate for Ever­core Part­ners.

He projects the film will make be­tween $70 mil­lion and $80 mil­lion in the US and Canada dur­ing its the­atri­cal run. – Reuters

En­der’s Game,

PRE­PAR­ING FOR BAT­TLE: Har­ri­son Ford and Asa But­ter­field in

chron­i­cling the lives of child war­riors in­volved a war of races.

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