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
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
PREPARING FOR BATTLE: Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in
chronicling the lives of child warriors involved a war of races.