Orson Scott Card

ENDER

Director Gavin Hood received mass acclaim for his 2005 film, Tsotsi, before moving on to direct Rendition and eventually land the gig for 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That comic book adaptation didn’t sit too well with critics or fans, but its shortcomings don’t all fall on the feet of Hood. That production was reportedly plagued with creative differences and had a script constantly in flux, which is likely why Hood says, while discussing his new film, Ender’s Game, how beneficial it is to have a completed script before shooting. His adaptation of Orson Scott Card‘s sci-fi classic centers around a young boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who literally has the world’s fate placed on his shoulders, and it’s a remarkably faithful adaptation when it comes to the book’s emotion and the finale its fans are familiar with. Hood sat down with us at the film’s press day to discuss the challenges of remaining faithful to Card’s book. Here’s what he had to say:

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review enders game

It’s been fifty years since aliens attacked Earth, killing thousands before a lucky strike brought the invading mothership crashing to the ground. The time since has been spent building up a military capable of fighting back in case the intruders ever choose to return. It’s not soldiers they’re after, though. The military brass are searching for a leader, a strategist capable of beating the alien swarms faster and harder than the space bugs can beat mankind. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) thinks he’s found that great mind in Ender Wiggen (Asa Butterfield), a young boy whose two elder siblings have both failed out of the academy — a brother for being too aggressive and a sister for being too empathetic. Graff suspects Ender might be the “just right” in the Goldilocks analogy he probably makes offscreen. Young Ender is whisked up to an orbiting battle school to commence with the training that just might save humanity, but his biggest battle will be within himself. Dun dun dun! Ender’s Game, based on the bestselling novel by Orson Scott Card, is a sci-fi action film that manages to best most YA adaptations at their own game. Card’s book was published before the YA designation came into fashion, but it has all the hallmarks including a teenage protagonist with social issues who just so happens to be the super special chosen one destined to save the world. A strong lead performance and some exciting action sequences follow, but they’re brought down by narrative lapses, […]

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Ender

Unadaptable. It’s a scary word for filmmakers with a passion project, and an even scarier word for major studios with their eyes locked on the bottom line. With the trend in Hollywood ever leaning toward the edict of brand recognition, a great many books (mostly the ones filled with panels, capes, and conversation bubbles) are being translated for the big screen. And why not? If the audience is built-in, and the production demands aren’t too unreasonable, it would seem like a slam dunk. Yet there are written works that, for one reason or another, studios feel aren’t viable. These become earmarked as unadaptable, typically from a purely financial standpoint; shackled by the cost of logistics. Then there are occasions in which the content or themes of a written piece are deemed too edgy or risky for a studio to want to touch. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” has the rare and unfortunate distinction of facing both hurdles. It’s the story of a young boy ripped from his home and trained by the military to kill an alien species in spectacular zero gravity simulators. These hurdles proved to be insurmountable for many major studios, which explains the project’s long gestation. But as we all know, limitations have a habit of becoming the footnotes of monumental achievement. The obvious science-fiction-to-actual-science parallel comes to mind. At one time it seemed impossible that people could communicate via a wire with folks across the country, then across the planet. For generations, the idea of actually […]

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hood

Imagine a chubby, pasty high school kid who, to my great embarrassment, wore a military-style Red Hot Chili Peppers jacket. Tacky, I know, but also picture him obsessively reading Ender Game‘s — Orson Scott Card‘s incredible piece of science-fiction — during his sophomore year. That kid dreamed of making a movie of it one day, preferably with George Clooney as Colonel Graff. Sadly, that boy’s dream is dead, thanks to director Gavin Hood. But Hood can’t be blamed for crushing a wonderful child’s will to dream. One thing is for sure, Ender’s Game is a big ambitious swing of a project for Hood. Card’s novel is not a sure thing of a blockbuster, and considering its source material, it’s a story that isn’t exactly suited for all kids. Hood’s past film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, felt watered down all around, but with this latest project Hood seems to have captured the spirit of a sprawling space adventure.

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trailer enders game

“Probably the most egregiously overlooked area of gay visibility is, if you can swing with me on this, science fiction…Since all these shows are set in the future, the grim possibility exists that, at least in their creators’ minds, there are no gay people in the future. It’s a curious notion for science-fiction to embrace…” Discussing queer visibility on network television, Bruce Vilanch wrote these words for The Advocate in 1997, but he might as well have been talking about films in 2013. Last year, I made a point that “the genres that dominate Hollywood right now are also the most heteronormative (action sequels, superhero franchises, and children’s films)”; outside of the occasional allegory, one could add science-fiction to this mix as well. Of all the conversations surrounding the controversy over Orson Scott Card’s affiliation with the homophobic National Organization for Marriage in advance of Lionsgate’s expensive adaptation of Ender’s Game, one repeated assertion has been bugging me quite a bit – the notion that the film itself will have nothing to do, and does not in any way exercise, Card’s problematic politics. Such a view sees the routine absence of homosexuality in popular movies – specifically, genre movies – as somehow apolitical.

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Orson Scott Card

Just last week, the trailer for The Boxtrolls spoke of gay marriage with kindness, simplicity, and acceptance. Now author Orson Scott Card has done the opposite. The online group Geeks Out recently called for a boycott of the upcoming Card adaptation Ender’s Game, urging viewers to stay away from the film. The group believes that anyone who thinks anti-homosexuality laws should be strictly enforced (as Card does) should not be allowed the opportunity to make tons of money from a blockbuster film starring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Card responds to the boycott and to anyone else questioning whether his views are a part of Ender’s Game: “Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

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trailer enders game

2013 is set to be a solid year for science fiction films, and one of the more anticipated releases is the big-screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card‘s bestselling and beloved Ender’s Game. The story follows a young cadet (Asa Butterfield) training in the art of warfare as mankind’s last ditch effort to stave off an alien invasion. It seems the insectoid-like Buggers (?) are able to anticipate our typical defense efforts and sending teenagers into battle catches them off guard. There’s probably more to it than that, but that’s really all I could glean from this first trailer. Check it out below.

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Gavin Hood’s upcoming adaptation of the legendary Orson Scott Card (is it too new to be legendary? It’s at least flirting with legendary) sci-fi novel Ender’s Game just signed a new name to its cast, one who’s already pretty legendary in the sci-fi world himself: Han Solo. Harrison Ford joins a cast that already has Hugo’s Asa Butterfield starring in the lead role of military recruit and Earth’s last hope Ender Wiggin, and youthful Oscar nominees like Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin playing supporting roles; so it’s starting to look like Hood’s sci-fi epic pitting man against bugger is going to have quite the ensemble when it finally gets put in front of cameras. I know that everyone was a little upset when the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was hired to direct such a beloved novel, but I don’t think there’s any way we can complain about this cast. Ford is set to play the role of Colonel Hyrum Graff, the man responsible for training the recruits at the military school Ender attends. He’s a manipulative man who’s plan is to control Ender’s development from small boy into the perfect military commander through secretive and mysterious means. In this world, the human race is at the brink of extermination due to war with a race of alien beings, and it has been decreed that Ender is the only recruit with the potential to bring them back from defeat with his brilliance. I think Ford will be suitably grizzled to […]

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For those not in the know, “Ender’s Game” is a 1985 science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card that has, over the last few decades, grown pretty mightily in acclaim. Despite not being all that old, science fiction fans often rank it right up there with the classics of the genre. So it’s kind of weird that it’s taken so long to get a film version off the ground. Nevertheless, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood set to helm and Hugo’s Asa Butterfield set to star, it’s finally here. And now that the tough picks are out of the way, it’s time to start filling out the rest of the cast. The bulk of this novel concerns its gifted young protagonist Ender and his experiences attending a government school for elite soldiers. You see, we’re in an intergalactic war with a relentless species of aliens that we call Buggers, and it’s getting down to the wire when it comes to the existence of the human race. The fate of our species is resting pretty firmly on the shoulders of young Ender (Butterfield), but how is he supposed to grow up as the ultimate military commander when he can barely even make it through basic things like anti-gravity training, learning to shoot, and dealing with school bullies? One way is by becoming friends with Petra Arkanian, a tough young girl who takes Ender under her wing and drags him through those first through semesters of warrior school kicking and screaming. […]

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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