Monday, February 18, 2013

What I Want from the Ender's Game Movie

Adam C. Zern shares his three hopes for the upcoming film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game:

"I am an invested, albeit not a zealous, fan of the Ender and Shadow books. I've written about several of those books on this blog (Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant). I was instantly excited to hear that the Ender's Game book was going to be adapted into a film, although my excitement was immediately mitigated when I learned that the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Gavin Hood, was at the helm. However, I'm holding out hope, and my wish is that the filmmakers will make sure to get a couple things right with the film adaptation.

1.) Focus on Moral Dilemmas: One of the brilliant aspects of Card's Ender and Shadow books is their relentless focus on moral conundrums. It is the strongest element of the books. Card establishes characters along with their hopes and dreams, weaknesses and strengths, and then presents them with brutally difficult moral decisions. I was consistently puzzling over how I would behave in the same situations if ever forced into those seemingly no-win scenarios. The film version of Ender's Game should take full advantage of those moral difficulties. Film is the most useful and effective medium in conveying emotion and making the audience feel how difficult those moral dilemmas are would make the film be so much more than just another sci-fi movie.

2.) Focus on Ender: Andrew Wiggin, Card's main protagonist, is a wonderful character.  He is complicated and layered, showing signs of the greatest kindness and the most merciless brutality.  He is a reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless.  His decisions have, quite literally, universal impacts.  The audience needs to care for Ender and sympathize for him.  Science fiction films and books, like fantasy, can easily and often do focus far too much on setting and environment rather than on character.  Card's Ender's Game probably leaves a little to be desired when it comes to setting, but his characters are flesh and blood.  The film ought to follow that pattern.  No amount of production design or special effects can replace good characters.

3.) Focus on the Future: Those familiar with the Ender and Shadow books realize that the relationships between the characters is the beating heart of the franchise.  A great many of the characters have their first contact with Ender in the Ender's Game book and go on to experience their own meaningful story arcs, most notably Bean.  I hope the film is smart about these secondary characters and gives them enough time to develop.  There are few things that Hollywood loves more than a sequel, and if the Ender's Game film is smart about how it handles Ender's peers as well as Ender it could easily have a multi-film franchise.  I would love for that to become a reality.

I'm not a purist and, therefore, I'm willing to accept changes in the nuances of the book's story to ensure a proper film is made.  I may not have much confidence in the filmmaker heading up the project, but I do care a lot about the source material and hope that they're able to showcase on film what made the book so memorable.  Fingers crossed."


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