A Year of Sci-Fi: Ender’s Game

My little project has hit a hiccup larger than little. First: being a stay at home dad, I thought I was ready for wife’s new school year. But being solo parent to a crawling ten month old was so incredibly different than being solo parent to a not-quite-crawling six month old. I was not accurately prepared for that particular challenge. Her new found independence and (almost) cybernetic enhancements blended to create a bewildering atmosphere. I found my workload more than doubled: I had to develop new methods of observation as she crawled through all the nether regions of our house sizing, critiquing, eating all the previously unknown sharp elements; milk comprised at most a third of her diet (now it’s perhaps a tenth); her mutagenically developed brain now experienced boredom faster, which meant the world was less interesting than when she could only roll over (and over and over) for hours at a time which meant I both had to 1. come up with things to do more than ever, 2. follow her obsessively while she continued to eat cat food, chicken feed, mud, chicken shit, paper, plastic tags, thumbtacks, old food fallen under counters, bottoms of shoes, dirty diapers forgotten on the floor in an effort to dress her quickly and get her freshly warmed food, and dishes pull off the table. All this also added up to a kid who would no longer be content riding from one dad-friendly locale to the next , which created a kind of enforced isolation that was murder to work through. In essence: I was too overworked and unused to the level of work in order to be able to watch a movie with ease. But I got all that figured out.

And then I got sick. For about two weeks last month I faced the possibility of surgery and spent every day so bone tired that making it to the end of the day, no matter the condition of baby and house, with no deaths was itself a Herculean accomplishment. But I got better.

All this means that I have fallen way off the wagon. It is not a wagon from which I wish to remain fallen. It does also mean that, for volume’s sake, I’ve moved my project to my personal blog and will submit to Hush a list of favorites. Perhaps I will, at that point, group a pack of movies, perhaps 5 or so, and add some contrasted analysis.

And so, my first movie back in the Sun: Ender’s Game (2013).

I’ve never read the book. It’s one of the few books that every person I know has said, “Ohmygod, you have to read it.” That is until Jacob said, “I wouldn’t bother. That book’s dumb.” And that guy is smart. Probably smarter than you, and definitely smarter than me.

I spent most of the movie unsure about why I should care. In a very pathos laden way, you care because Earth: oh my god, I know people who live there, and it’s Cosmic Eviction Day (maybe). And by the time the big reveal came, I spent so much time unsure if these were actually simulations, that the impact was lost. I also find it unlikely these bugs know whatever language his tablet is programmed in (probably Java) to be able to talk with him.

My (worthless) opinions aside, the movie has an emergent core of transcendence. It opens with the quote that to defeat your enemy is to love him in that moment. This leads to the conflict of a boy who experiences profound love for a person the moment he defeats them in a school designed to constantly pit everyone against everyone. Narratively, this is a problem as it’s an implement used twice in the story, and only once for worthy effect, when he feels so disgusted with himself at the extinction of his enemy that he commits an act of treason at the movie’s end.

It’s an interesting conceit, and Ender’s strategy is that he has to understand why his opponent fights so he can beat them, but the movie never really lays down clear examples of what that means.

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