It's finally here, the trailer for Gavin Hood's film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's celebrated science fiction novel Ender's Game! It's easily one of my favorite books of all time, and I must have stolen at least four copies since I learned about Card's virulent homophobia and contributions to hate groups. I'll probably do the same with the film because while piracy isn't a victimless crime as my DVDs keep telling me, neither is cutting Orson Scott Card a big check.
But never mind that, the movie looks tremendous. You've got to love any flick that managed to talk Harrison Ford back into space, and the battle scenes look amazing. It's definitely going to be a triumph.
Yet the trailer appears to have left out things from the book that I vividly remember. Maybe they're in the film. Maybe not. I understand why somebody wouldn't try to tease an evening at the movies with...
Big Group Children Shower Scenes: For a guy that is so vehemently opposed to same-sex relationships the novel is one of the gayest things I have ever read in places. At its heart Ender's Game is the story of a boy who grows up training to fight the most important war in the world alongside the soldiers he will command. It's like Harry Potter, in a sense.
Except J.K. Rowling didn't constantly describe the Hogwarts students walking around naked, taking showers together that end in blood, soapy grappling matches, and students that sit with their laptops on their crotches using a holographic display to show off CGI floppy dongs. Don't worry, most of the girls that attend the battle school also spend their time in the barracks naked, but Card assures us that at their young age their bodies are mostly indistinguishable from a boy's.
Ender Straight Up Kicking a Dude to Death: Ender has been monitored his whole life, had his entire genetic code analyzed, so that the armed forces could be sure that this right here was the perfect living weapon. That means he has spent most of his youth as an outcast, and we all know what happens when you dye a monkey pink and throw him in a cage filled with black ones.
The final act that convinces the higher ups that Ender is the chosen one is when he gets into a fight after his brain monitor is removed. A local bully takes this opportunity to get some friends and try to beat up Ender who they now think isn't being watched. Ender gets the bully down with a lucky shot, and proceeds to methodically kick the bully in the face until his freakin' brain leaks out. Jeez.. in America we just have to turn our heads and cough to get into the army.Flashback 4 Brilliant Authors and Why They're Douchebags
The Torture Porn Video Game Ender Becomes Obsessed With: Throughout his time at the battle school Ender plays a psychological evaluation game where an avatar progresses through a set of puzzles that change constantly depending on how you play. No matter what, though, you eventually end up in front of a giant that asks you to play a guessing game with two glasses of liquid. Most kids stop there, by Ender stays with it months after the rest give up.
The game is rigged. You cannot guess which liquid isn't poison no matter how many times you try. Ender ends up with his head dissolved, rotting from the inside, set on fire, blowing up, being paralyzed then gutted by the giant, and endless series of gruesome deaths Ender endures over and over again.
Eventually he beats the game by kicking over the glasses and burrowing into the giant's eyeball until its death. That, also, is not in the trailer.
His Brother's Zoosadism: The book follows not just Ender, but his brother and sister left behind on Earth. They were passed over for the path of command, and instead as adolescents begin using the Internet to gain influence in a world domination scheme. If there is any truly dangerous message that the novel sends, it's that bitching and offering political insights on message boards is a good way to actually influence the world.
Ender's brother Peter is dead set on ruling the world, but his hobbies include capturing woodland creatures, staking them out on the ground, and skinning them alive while he eats his lunch nearby. This in addition to constant threats to kill his siblings, which you might be able to write off as typical kids if we hadn't just read about him going all Buffalo Bill on Snow White's kitchen staff.
Ender's Complete and Utter Breakdown: Spoiler Alert: So, I hate to tell you this if you haven't read the book, but the trailer has totally given away the twist near the end. Ender isn't playing training simulators at the battle school, he's actually coordinating the attack on the alien home world. They just tell him that it's a simulation, and drive him relentlessly as the war progresses because they are desperate to win. Once the truth is revealed, Ender utterly snaps as the reality of a species-wide genocide by his unknowing hands is made clear.
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You wouldn't know any of that to look at the trailer. Asa Butterfield looks like a nice enough kid, and I'm sure he's done the best with what they've given him, but throughout that trailer we never see the boy still clutching for innocence and humanity in a world that is abandoning those traits in the wake of a threat... a threat that in the end turns out to have been imaginary in the first place.
Instead, it's a grimly determined boy genius ready to wipe out his one-dimensional enemy. He's shown as the perfect war machine, crafted and bred. He's everything that the government wants him to be.
In other words, the opposite of the moral of the story. Pretty as the film is, this last point makes me want to see the film even less.