The children’s fiction (although if it was written today, it would more likely fall under YA fiction) novel Ender’s Game was judged by many people (including me, when I first read it in 2001) to be unfilmable. Part of that was the technology – complex battles between human teenagers, both in a cramped battle room and in deep space just would not have been possible when the book was written in the 1980s. The other problem, of course, is that so much of the book is internal dialogue – characters considering militarism, democracy and nationality – which is very hard to make compelling on the screen.
It’s this problem which ultimately makes the film, Ender’s Game disappointing. Much has been made of author Orson Scott Card‘s politics – a devout Mormon, he is opposed to equal marriage and reproductive rights – but it’s largely irrelevant to the novel and the film. These are characters who have yet to enter puberty – sexuality isn’t discussed. The film (and novel) focus around Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), the third child of a gifted family who is chosen to attend a space-based Battle School, fighting in mock-combat in a zero gravity battle room and singled out as the commander who offers humanity the best hope of defeating their insect-like opponents, the Formics.
The film suffers from losing its sense of internationalism and link to Earth-side politics. It’s deleted a subplot involving the political careers of Ender’s older siblings, Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) and Valentine (Abigail Breslin), which in the novel really gives the action a grounding in the day to day experience of life on Earth while preparing for an alien invasion. Even more disappointingly, the film looses the international flavour of the novel’s Battle School, with Dutch born Dink (Khylin Rambo) and Bean (Aramis Knight), African Alai (Suraj Partha) French Bernard (Conor Carroll), and Armenian Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfeld) all becoming Americans – which really eliminates the sense of an world military and certainly makes the idea of any sequel almost impossible – only villain Bonso Madrid (Moises Arias) is allowed to be Latin American (which certainly says something about Hollywood and foreign stereotypes.)
Without these political themes, Ender’s Game – which has actually become more topical due to existence of drone and computer warfare, child soldiers and increased imperialism, becomes just another action movie. But at least they did the action scenes well.
These cookies are SUCH movie theatre cookies – they were inspired by one of my colleagues, who hates sweet things and wanted a very salty cookie. Popcorn and pretzels – what snack food could be better?
Popcorn and Pretzel Cookies (adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
115g softened unsalted butter
95g light brown sugar
65g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon butter extract
155g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 cups microwaved popcorn
2 cups pretzel M&Ms