Humanity's very survival is at stake in the big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card's thought-provoking 1985 tale about kids trained and programmed to become military strategists and cold-hearted killers. While the book poses the question: "Is it right to lose our humanity in order to save humanity?" the movie makes no such philosophical pretenses, aiming to simply give us a thrilling sci-fi crowd-pleaser centered around its angst-ridden but likeable protagonist, Andrew 'Ender' Wiggins.
Played by Asa Butterfield, the willowy Ender is portrayed as a vulnerable and conflicted young man who feels the weight of saving the world on his tiny shoulders. Of course, that is precisely because this is what he and his fellow cadets were told by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), the commanding officer of the Battle School in which Ender and many others are enrolled. Ender soon outshines all the rest as he proves to be not only a prodigy in the Art of War but also deceptively adept at personal survival against the predations of bullies and jealous classmates.
As Ender feels increasingly out-of-touch with his own emotions in his rigid military surroundings, he thinks of his dear sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) to get back on track, demanding that he be able to send messages to her. Because in 'Ender's Game,' genocidal war is no more than a virtual symphony depicted on glitzy neon screens of a massive multi-player video game with Ender as the conductor. In fact, you can't tell what is simulation and what is real. And therein lies the kicker.