Part 1 one saw lengthy introduction to the story, Part 2 was most of Ender’s time at the Battle School, now we follow him at Command School, where he is learning to lead his team into battle against the Formics. Thank God large-scale simulation games exist, huh?
|"No, you cannot use this system to play your video games.|
I know you're gonna ask someday, the answer will always be no.
Same for anything else you'd like to watch with this."
|I swear, this entire scene is impressive.|
|Oh damn, that giant ship blew up! Crap, this simulation was a failure.|
Oof, good thing it was just a simulation, right? Yes, right...
The training continues for a moment, but with the threat of really real Formics coming closer and closer by the day, Graff has no other choice but to proceed with Ender’s final exam. An entire panel of wartime strategists and veterans of the Formic wars will be viewing this simulation, which has the highest degree of realism and where every loss will cost Ender greatly… Wow, I’m glad I never had such stressful exams at school. Ender’s promotion to Commander of the entire human fleet is on the line, after all. The exam takes place closer to the aliens’ home planet than ever before. Ender’s crew go behind their computers.
The armada of ships moves towards the many Formic motherships, but something’s odd: The motherships aren’t moving. Like they’re instead… waiting. The human armada launches its assault, and the Formics respond with their swarms. It looks like the situation is against the humans, but then Petra fires the Little Doctor bomb into the swarm and destroys a large amount of the alien forces. However, they were actually aiming for the Formics’ planet. Petra needs a lot of time for the Little Doctor to recharge, so Ender orders his smaller ships to protect Petra’s main ship and cannons.
Much like his winning strategy in the Battle School’s zero-gravity room, the small ships around Petra’s ship go down by the dozens, possibly more, but the center one is left unscathed. The big transporters are also in danger of going down in this battle, but Ender orders his crew to keep up with current orders. He asks them to clear up a path between the Little Doctor’s ship and the Formic planet. They venture into the planet’s atmosphere, and drill a hole through the Formic swarms, clearing a path for Petra, who shoots the Little Doctor right onto the planet.
|Pop goes the world. Alright, it's the Formic world,|
but it's a world regardless.
As Mazer Rackham soon explains, this last simulation… wasn’t actually one. The ships in the fight were all real, the pilots who were killed in the assault weren’t just fakes, and the Formic planet really has gone boom bye bye. The Queens on that planet are all dead, and thus the opposing alien species has been annihilated. Ender has won that war. By eradicating an entire species. He… doesn’t take it well. And Graff’s attempts at putting a heroic spin on the situation only make Ender angrier, as he is convinced that the reason the Formics weren’t attacking at the start of the not-actually-a-simulation was because they were merely defending themselves.
As the kid grows more and more agitated, he is injected something and passes out, and brought to his room. Petra stays with him in there. Ender then dreams, he sees again the final scenes from the Mind Game, the castle and the giant sphere with Valentine in it. Realiziung the signification of that scene, he wakes up and hurries out of his room, saying he needs to go outside. Petra follows him with oxygen packs, and the two reach the world outside of the human base in the Formic colony… to find themselves in front of a large Formic “castle”. Or at least, I suppose that’s what it’s meant to be like. Huh, so apparently, these aliens were able to “hack” into Ender’s game and memory to show him exactly where to go. Before they knew they would die. Or before they knew that he would get to Command School. Er… Sheesh, those aliens are psychics or something. Maybe they should become the inspiration for the first Bug/Psychic-type Pokémon in Gen 8.
|"Oh, miss Formic Queen, you have such large... four eyes!"|
And thus Ender leaves, alone, on this quest, trying to prove to himself that he can be a good pacifist now that he has proven to be a brilliant war strategist. In the original book, there is actually a reason why Ender doesn’t return to Earth. Remember the subplot with Valentine and Peter? Yeah, with their intense blogging, they basically set up a global war, with each of them on a different side. If Ender came back, he would be forced to pick a side – and that’s the least of his worries. He could also be assassinated for destroying an entire alien species, or for bringing so many soldiers to death in this war, during that final event that he still thought to be jus a simulation. Oh, and Graff is put on trial, so he doesn’t escape it all. Here, Ender wants to stay true to his promise to the Formic Queen, so he goes alone with the egg. That’s how the film ends.
|I'll understand if you don't want to read all of these.|
I wouldn't read them all either.
There was, however, quite a bit to set up. The book wasted no time, every chapter had something new, usually a new major event, or a match or simulation that revealed Ender’s intelligence, a new strategy put in place to either win the games at the Battle School, or a new technique in place at the Command School. Problem is, the book had time to show the multiple battles, while we’re stuck with only the most important ones in the film adaptation. And thus we can only assume that Ender is the greatest strategist, based only on the examples we get, and not on the various other examples that are missing. Condensing the original story’s events is a common way to approach an adaptation, and the film is already nearly 2 hours long, so I can understand why they cut out so many parts of the book – although the adaptation is weaker for it.
|Video games were portrayed rather well. Gamers' levels of|
intelligence towards puzzle games, not so much.
The story juggles a lot of philosophies and beliefs regarding war, alien life, the nature of human conflict and child psychology, and to the adaptation’s credit, most of those were kept in the film. The story was still toned down, as the characters start off at about age 10 and the film takes place over a year, while the book had Ender start at age 6 and ends five years later. The important deaths in the book (like Bonzo) instead have the victims survive, although we can’t say that for all the pilots who died in the final assault. But, hey, a million is just a statistic, no?
The adult actors are great, and most child actors are pretty good too. I have seen some critics say that the film lacked the usual Hollywoodian “Oomph!” That may be because Ender’s Game is more of the cerebral type of science-fiction, the one that delivers messages and philosophies first, awesome action second. And, granted, in this film, whenever there is action, it is pretty awesome, whether it’s the matches in the zero-gravity room or the large-scale combats all around the main characters in the simulation room. Some very impressive imagery there. Makes you wish there was more of both, as there is still quite a bit of the plot dedicated to philosophy and Aesops.
|This review didn't show Harrison Ford often enough. Great|
performance, I've yet to see Star Wars Episode 7... I hope
he's good in it, and in the 8th and 9th...
Next up… Hm… we’re almost in the middle of the month… it’s too late for a theme month, no?
Next Friday: I take a look at the humble beginnings, rise and downfall of the greatest attorney to have ever lived on a video game screen!