'Ender's Game': About that ending...

ENDERS-GAME

Image Credit: Richard Foreman

[Warning: Huge, epic, intergalactic spoilers to follow. Consider yourself warned, launchie.]

Like a lot of other movie fans (about $9.9 million worth of them, actually), I went to Ender’s Game last night to see how Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi saga fared in its translation to the big screen. I  read the book a while back, and was glad to see plenty of my favorite parts adapted pretty well: The Battle Room looked remarkably similar to the way I imagined it, kind of a mix between a laser tag arena and a Tron playground. The tension between Ender and his classmates — especially Bonzo — felt spot-on, and even that weird computer mind-game (which I was betting they’d cut out of the movie since it would be too hard to explain/create) looked like a totally feasible version of a superfuturistic PlayStation. Plus the final battle “simulation” was a genuinely cool CGI giant-ships-versus-planet sequence.

But about twenty minutes after being wowed by that, I found myself leaving the theater a little confused. To refresh (or for those who don’t mind spoilers): Ender realizes that he’s just committed genocide, stumbles out of the command center, wanders into a Formic cave, discovers an egg, has a telepathic conversation with a dying Formic queen who WIPES HIS TEARS AWAY WITH HER GIANT ANT FOOT, and then sets off to colonize a new Formic world with his egg. At this point I had three main thoughts, in roughly this order: 1. Wha. 2. Tha? 3. F$%#.

To be fair, the book’s ending is pretty out-there too, since it packs one huge revelation after another and spins the story in an entirely new direction. And editing was necessary to keep the movie under, I don’t know, seventeen-and-a-half hours long. (It actually clocked in at a brisk 114 minutes.) But there was a huge amount happening here — our first real glimpse of a Formic, Ender’s change of heart, the whole craziness with the game being a conduit for telepathic communication with the alien ant people (honestly just reread that phrase a couple times). It all hit so hard and fast that I felt like I had accidentally fallen asleep and missed the 30 minutes of solid exposition we’d need to get to that point. I still say kudos to the filmmakers for wrangling such an unwieldy story into a workable movie — it’s a huge achievement. But as far as endings go, Ender’s left me more than a little puzzled.

And I even read the book  — which makes me especially curious about people who didn’t. Did the ending make sense to you? Were you able to follow what was happening, or did you have to lean over to your well-read friends for a quick Cliff’s Notes? (Or more likely, hit up Wikipedia when you got home.) And for people who did read the books — Did the ending wrap things up (slash set them up for a sequel) the way you had imagined? Sound off in the comments!

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