Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Which is better? Ender's Game

So, like most books I've stumbled across in this blog, I nabbed Ender's Game by Olson Scott Card from the Independence School book closet last summer. I've heard about Ender's Game from many people over the years, praising the book as a must read for science fiction. Getting the opportunity to read the book (for free), I decided to take it on as a summer reading project. This was before I knew about Card's beliefs against homosexuality, gay rights and gay marriage, though I believe it was made more apparent as the countdown began with the movie's release.

The movie was released 2 years ago. My co-teacher and I assigned Ender's Game as an extra credit project for 10th grade English and we were both a little worried they would watch the movie and not read the book. Well, we didn't have to worry too much because none of them did it anyway!

I wanted to first start off with my impression and attitude toward the book, in spite of Card's strong advocacy against gay people, is that the book is insightful and thought provoking and is about the atrocities of war, and of young men fighting the old men war. Ender's journey is the hero's journey, with a twist (and a few prequels and sequels). I'm surprised by Card's stance on homosexuality and gay marriage because Ender's Game seems to be a book about inclusiveness and misunderstandings. Upon reading many reviews and articles about Card, he has also turned into a conspiracy theorist (though he's not a racist, which... I guess is good? Why a social justice warrior for one cause and not all others?)

Now, onto the movie. I will say, the movie does a good job of adapting 1st person perspective. I felt like the movie does really good highlights of what the book was about and touches on the main points without sacrificing much of the story. The viewer understands his loneliness and isolation through scenes with other characters and how they treat him. The viewer gets how smart he is through his actions, and the movie does a pretty good job of showing, not telling, the society and the desperation they all feel to defeat the aliens. They show highlights of his journey through battle school and command school, up to his final war game with the Formics and his friends.

Whereas I believed most of the actors in the movie, (Harrison Ford just seems to be collecting a paycheck, I feel) and I felt like Ender could really kick anyone's ass who crossed him, I felt like there was a lot missing from the movie. I'm not sure how it would have been remedied, but though there were scenes where you see Ender be sensitive and empathic with strong ties to his sister, I felt like the final impact of realizing that the Formics couldn't orally communicate didn't really come across. It happened in the book through the game and through his exploration of the game, which was lost in the movie.

I also understand there was a big difference in technology between when the book was written and when the movie was filmed. When I read the book, I envision the kids playing video games and playing the war games in a literal video game (like N64). In the movie, though some of them seemed to be using consols and sitting at like arcade games, Ender was looking a full size screen which looked like a legit camera to zoom in on the actual fighting. To me, it didn't seem like there was much of a separation there between the game and the actual fighting.

Even though the movie wasn't bad and I enjoyed watching it (there was a great cast assembled, Harrison Ford included), I feel like reading the book adds more dimensions to politics and war that is not seen in the movie. The movie also left out the political side of the book, which is an another part to war with Valentina and Peter, Ender's siblings.

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