The movie begins with a normal school setting. A group of boys are having a blast playing a computer game. Well, it would be normal if the kids weren’t in a school specifically for training soldiers in order to protect the world from an ant-like alien race known as “Buggers.” Add in Ender, the film’s protagonist who is nearly emotionless and an absolute genius with violent tendencies, and you have the futuristic world where all of humanity live in fear of being annihilated by the aliens who have already brought the race to the brink of extinction once. Ender is their only hope for survival.
Ender works well as a protagonist, though he is a bit strange. He’s a quiet kid who gets by doing what he’s told. The only emotions he has are negative ones such as sorrow, outrage, and disappointment. Ender is also prone to violence, but only when he is forced into a fight. He doesn’t have any happy moments throughout the film, except when he succeeds when others, mainly those ranking higher than him, believe that he will fail.
The reason for that is likely because he feels the weight of constant success on his shoulders. Ender, being a third child in a society where only two are accepted, views himself as an experiment. He believes that he was only born in order to become a soldier to help protect Earth from the Buggers, and this is more or less true. As expected, he is overly distraught in any situation in which he when he believes that he has failed.
The setting of the story is well done, for the most part. Schools and home life are how they would expected to be-strained and stressful, due to the threat of annihilation constantly looming over all of humanity’s heads. Nearly every school is focused on creating soldiers to defend the planet. However, there is one thing that I find confusing. Why is the military so picky? Why would they only accept a few dozen, if that many, out of hundreds of prospective soldiers? Wouldn’t they train them to fit their needs, rather than only accepting a small handful of children who already do?
Due to the stress that Ender is constantly under, he seems to be nearly helpless in any type of social setting. However, he somewhat overcomes this. He doesn’t make friends, necessarily. But there are a few relationships in which mutual respect is formed. It’s about as close to friendship as he gets in the movie. Ender proves to be amazing in his studies, leadership skills, and battle skills. But, that still doesn’t stop him from doubting the motives behind the war that they are preparing. It’s unclear what brought it on, but any type of character development is welcome. This doubt plays an important factor towards the end.
The film’s conclusion was extremely satisfying. Even though he faced many external conflicts, Ender overcame those rather simply. The biggest struggle he had to face throughout the movie was the internal conflict. The best part of the ending is that the significance of Ender’s inner struggle doesn’t show until late in the movie. It is overshadowed by his external conflicts. However, the ending presents a satisfying resolution that provides some balance between the two. In the end, Ender finally does what he wants to do, rather than what an authority figure wants him to do.