AutoMatters: ENDER’S GAME – Sci-Fi, Space, Morality and a 2088 Audi
By Jan Wagner
Based on the book by Orson Scott Card and set about 75 years in the future, Ender’s Game recalls the legendary and heroic accomplishments of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (played by Ben Kingsley), who had led a fiercely fought battle for humanity’s survival. Their last-ditch effort succeeded, when all hope seemed lost, to turn back hordes of alien invaders and stop the invasion.
However it would only be a matter of time before the aliens regrouped and posed a new and more deadly threat. The leaders of the International Fleet determined that using conventional military strategies to defeat the aliens would be unlikely to succeed, and that a game changer was needed. So it was that they recruited and trained the best and the brightest children, who were skilled at playing complex, strategic, fast-paced video games and thinking out-of-the-box, for a what would be a high stakes, desperate attempt to save humanity again. This is the story of Ender Wiggins.
Ender’s Game is one of those rare films that will stick in your mind long after you’ve left the movie theater. It has stunning visual effects (including groups of recruits engaging with each other in realistic battle exercises in zero gravity); large, elaborate sets; intricately detailed, functional props (such as weapons that are quickly taken apart and then reassembled in a training exercise); well designed and carefully made costumes; amazing space ships and other futuristic vehicles, including a 2088 Audi (of particular interest to AutoMatters readers); spectacular, explosive battle scenes; audio so powerful it can be felt through the theater seats when the transport ship takes off from Earth; and emotive, multi-dimensional acting.
Harrison Ford said that the Ender Wiggins character (played by Asa Butterfield) “faces a lot of the moral issues that are involved in using young people for warfare” and that his character (Colonel Hyrum Graff) is much more complex than was his Han Solo character in Star Wars.
Screenplay writer and director Gavin Hood explained that “you have … protagonists who are troubled kids, struggling for an identity in a morally complex universe.” “These are fabulously, morally complex characters. This is not a story about good versus evil in a simplistic way, where the character is wronged and has to right the wrong through revenge. This is a case where the character is at war with his own nature.” “It’s just that this time we get to play with a lot more cool toys, make some really cool, big, visual effects – but at its heart, I think why I love this story is it’s still a character-driven piece. What you get here with a film like this, and the fun for me as a director, is I get to have the best of two worlds. I get to play with big visuals – huge, wonderful visual effects; big, epic-looking stuff, but also still have this wonderful, character-driven story that requires great performances and complex, nuanced performances.”
Ender uses unorthodox stategies to deal with a variety of challenges that he faces in the film, not just to win battles but to try to end conflicts once and for all. We see him struggle with the morality of what he is ordered to do.
Ender’s Game was featured in AutoMatters (#290) once before – last summer, shortly after Comic-Con, where there was an Ender’s Game panel and a fantastic Ender’s Game Experience with full-scale sets, props and costumes from the film – all brought to San Diego and carefully reassembled to create a surprisingly realistic, interactive fan experience. The exhibit included the interior of a space transport ship, rows of computer consoles (which fans could sit at and use) in a classroom at Battle School, students’ sleeping quarters, and the large, round window of the Commander’s quarters with its stunning view of deep space (that provided another fan photo opportunity).
Audi contributed the “fleet shuttle quattro,” a virtual car that pushes the limits of what an Audi of the future might look like while, according to Frank Rimili, Chief Designer for the film project, preserving Audi’s brand values and projecting Audi’s design philosophy perfectly onto the fictional world of the movie. A scale model of that car was on display at the red carpet premiere of Ender’s Game at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
That’s all for now. As always, please write to me at AutoMatters@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions.
Copyright © 2013 by Jan Wagner – #305 AutoMatters
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