Ender’s Game, which won the box office in its opening weekend, is not just for science fiction junkies.

Based on the 1985 book authored by Orson Scott Card, the movie finds a satisfying balance between science fiction staples — like aliens, futuristic technology and space travel — as well as political discourse and profound examination of the ethics of warfare and human nature. The excellent casting, action, suspense, special effects and skull-pounding soundtrack make it a thrilling experience for just about anyone.

In the not-so-distant future, Earth is recovering from an invasion of an alien species called the Fornics. The fate of the human race rests squarely on the shoulders of a child prodigy named Andrew, or “Ender” as he is known to others. This young genius has been faced with the impossible task of ending an interplanetary war by using previously unheard of battle strategies.

Through a series of war games, Ender trains to take command of an army of children scarcely older than himself to overcome this alien race and put an end to the war for good. Along the way, Ender is constantly at war with himself, fighting to reconcile his conscience with his actions in the struggle to save the human race.

Those who have read the book will undoubtedly be pleased with the theatrical adaptation. For the most part, the movie stays entirely true to the book, with only a handful of minor changes. For example, the “launchies” in the film are quite a bit older than six years old, and the role of Major Anderson is portrayed by a woman instead of a man. Yet, these subtle changes do not detract from the overall effect. 

The movie does, however, leave out the subplot between Valentine and Peter in the roles as “Locke” and “Demosthenes.” Omitting this subplot does well to enhance the flow of Ender’s storyline, but does take away a bit from some of the original political philosophy.

Those who have not read the book will be equally enchanted by this movie. For starters, all of the important parts of the story are clearly portrayed and explained, so it is not necessary to have read the book in order to understand the film. The special effects are totally mind-blowing, especially when the recruits are practicing strategies in the Battle Room. (The Battle Room is a room with zero gravity — and it’s 100 percent believable!) Watching the way the actors are floating around almost makes you forget this movie was filmed on Earth. 

The cast is, for the most part, brilliant. Harrison Ford in the role of Colonel Graff excellently portrays a man that is equal parts desperate and hopeful, and is well balanced opposite Viola Davis in the role of Major Anderson, who is often more caught up in Ender’s well-being than in the overall success of the military operation. 

Asa Butterfield, in the role of Ender, is positively spell-binding. He owns the role so completely that it’s almost as if he created it himself. He effortlessly switches emotional gears — from anger to remorse, from compassion to despair, and back again. It would be hard not to be captivated by his performance.

What is perhaps most profound about Ender’s Game is its unapologetic and ruthless examination of human nature and the ethics surrounding warfare. Is there any cost too high to ensure survival? How far is too far? When it comes to government, how much control is too much? These are just a few of the questions you will grapple with as you follow Ender through his perilous journey.

Ender’s Game is a must-see for anyone that has an appreciation of science fiction, action and adventure. Please be advised that this film is rated PG-13 for some violence, including fist fights and gun violence. Use discretion when deciding whether or not this movie is appropriate for your family. If you have young children, hire a sitter and treat yourself to a night out. You won’t be disappointed.

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