5 Things to know before seeing Ender's Game
Many of us have read the book, but there are a few things you should know if you haven't, especially when it comes to insect-like alien creatures with the ability to invade Earth.
Formics and their queen
An alien race of insect-like creatures called Formics (Buggers in the book version), have previously invaded Earth on their quest for water. For the next 25 years, former war hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) and International Fleet colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) have been stalking the creatures in hopes of eradicating them for good.
The Formics are thought to have been defeated the first time when their ant-like queen was killed, sending the "worker" Formics into a tailspin. Just like in ant colonies, Mazer Rackham believes the aliens are controlled by their hive queen.
Who is Asa Butterfield?
The 16-year-old actor playing Ender Wiggin was born in London and started acting at just 8 years old. With ice-blue eyes, Butterfield plays Ender with equal amounts of pent-up anger and deep compassion for his enemies. In the movie he says, "Once I understand my enemy, I love [him]."
Butterfield also starred in 2008's Boy in the Striped Pajamas and played the title role in Martin Scorsese's Hugo in 2011. The Brit will next be seen as a teen math prodigy named Nathan in the film X Plus Y.
In his personal life, the actor enjoys writing music and creating video games for the iPad with his father and brother. You can download his game Racing Blind at the iTunes store.
Ender is a "third"
In this futuristic society, families are limited to having two children, similar to China’s one-child policy, in an effort to control the population in times of limited resources. In this story, families on Earth are allowed to have a third child, but must pay the government an exorbitant fee.
Ender is the third child in the Wiggin family and is teased and bullied by his fellow students, causing him to feel isolated. Colonel Graff uses this to his advantage, trying to further Ender's isolation to ensure his anger and desire to fight back.
Themes in story vs. author's current political views
Orson Scott Card wrote the book Ender's Game in 1985, which deals with the intolerance and genocide of an alien species. At the end of the story, protagonist Ender Wiggin yearns to understand the Formics despite their differences.
More recently, the Orson Scott Card has spoken out against gay marriage, expressing a very intolerant view of the LGBT community. The pro-gay website Geek OUT is hoping people will even boycott the movie, despite the fact that the Hugo Prize winner will not receive any percentage of the box office, according to The Wrap. The situation makes for an interesting paradox.
The NASA connection
The filmmakers needed a lot of studio space to film the movie. Screenwriter and director Gavin Hood said, "There aren't many places where we could find the kind of expansive sound stages we needed to build our sets. Serendipitously, we discovered that NASA has vast warehouses in New Orleans that were not being used. We turned them into studios. It seemed oddly appropriate to make Ender's Game, which is set in space, at a NASA facility." Appropriate, indeed!
NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans ended up being the perfect home for the production, said the film's producer Linda McDonough. "The film was shot in rocket ship?building warehouses, repurposed as sound stages."
McDonough added, "It ended up being a great cultural exchange between the space industry and the film industry, which benefited us both. For us, there was an added research dimension that wouldn't have existed otherwise. All of the kids and all of the crew could take a tour of the facility. Anybody could ask questions about physics and astrophysics. They got to meet an astronaut and ask about what being in zero gravity was like. Having these experiences wasn't a part of the planning of the film but was an outcome of being able to shoot at NASA." That's a truly space-age experience.