There are very few movies that I am looking forward to this year as much as Ender’s Game. I’ve been a fan of this book since I read it for the first time in sixth grade. I still remember exactly how I learned about it for the first time, too. One of my teachers – it wasn’t even my English teacher – had a poster of Jake Lloyd from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in a hammock reading Ender’s Game. After that I found it in our middle school library and I was hooked. I’ve probably read it over twenty times and Ender’s Shadow nearly as many times since it actually came out the year I discovered Ender’s Game.
Basically, this is a book that defined my childhood even more than Harry Potter.
It means a lot to me.
And I’ve been waiting for the film adaptation ever since Haley Joel Osment was rumored to be playing Ender. (Thankfully that never happened.)
Ender’s Game was one of those films that had a pretty heavy presence at Comic Con International this year. They had their obligatory panel in Hall H on Thursday night. The hall was pretty packed but people were still getting in pretty easily. It was the first day of the convention – people had already given up their Thursday seats to go wait in line outside all night for the Friday panels. In attendance were director Gavin Hood, producer Robert Orci, Asa Butterfield (Ender), Hailee Steinfeld (Petra) and Harrison Ford (Colonel Graff). Abigail Breslin had a name placard on the stage, too, but never showed. Possibly because Hood and Orci sat next to each other and didn’t leave her a seat between them. But who knows.
Probably one of the best moments of the entire Ender’s Game panel came not during their panel but the Divergent panel that came immediately before it when some kid stood up at the mic to ask a question and began it with, “I’ve been a huge fan of Ender’s Game…” They actually let him come back in the Ender’s Game panel to ask the question. It wasn’t nearly as great as his earlier moment, though. Some of the other questions were pretty good, too. One guy asked Harrison Ford why he joined the cast as Colonel Graff and he gave a very well thoughtout response about how he really enjoyed being a part of something like Ender’s Game in a character that would ask a lot of questions about morality and the military and how far people are willing to go to achieve their ends.
Someone else then asked him if Han Solo would be a good soldier in Colonel Graff’s army – the obvious answer being that he wouldn’t be a good soldier in anyone’s army – and what Han Solo and Indiana Jones would say to each other if they ever met – the answer being, “Hi, how are you?” Harrison Ford’s deadpan makes me wonder sometimes if he’s just deadpanning or incredibly pissed off at anyone. I just freakin’ love that man to no end.
They also showed some pretty awesome footage which basically promises that Ender’s Game will have some of the most stunning space battle scenes ever in any movie. Seriously, the footage was absolutely gorgeous. I can’t even wait to see it in theatres.
But Ender’s Game didn’t just have a presence in Hall H. They also had an off-site presence across from the convention with the Ender’s Game Experience. Sponsored by HGTV, the experience was a walk-through sort of tent structure full of scenes, set pieces, and props from the actual film.
Before entering, visitors enlisted with the International Fleet. They received their official ID cards and a dog tag with one of the eight represented armies on it or just the generic International Fleet logo.
Afterward, they would be guided into the temporary structure. The walk through is self guided and visitors could take as much time as they liked exploring the Wiggins family living room, the Battle school launch shuttle, a classroom, a dormitory, and more. They had a number of props from the film including one of the ‘stars’ from the Battle Room and displays with flash suits, Ender’s ‘veteran hospital admission bracelet,’ and other items. All of which were pretty cool and all of which gave you a little hint at what awaits in the film.
You could take pictures of some things and climb around and interact with others. The walls were covered in Battle School army logos and International Fleet propaghanda. All throughout the experience there were cast members dressed as International Fleet officers ready to answer questions if you asked them and tell people not to climb on certain things.
I mean, c’mon! This stuff was all from the actual film. You gotta be a little careful with it.
At the end there was a really cool photo op of screen and a Battle school port hole overlooking Earth where you could take any number of stoic photos.
Or, like me and my friend Aerin, a picture of you playing patty cake in space.
One of the other Ender’s Game attractions at the convention was the swag. If you hung around the Ender’s Game Experience after it shut down the staff members started handing out handfuls of their unused dog tags so collecting all of those were fairly easy. (Unless you didn’t already have centipede. They ran out of centipede on Saturday and if you didn’t have it you never would have it. My collection will forever be incomplete.)
Harder to acquire were the elusive Ender’s games pins. And, to a lesser extent the stickers. In theory they were also supposed to give away iron-on patches but I never saw any of those. These swag items were all given out at the infamous Summit/Lionsgate booth. The booth was so reviled because the line was constantly capped, always unbearably long, and hardly ever moving. It was shut down on numerous occasions by the fire marshal and Comic Con floor managers. At certain times it was accessible only to people with t-shirt vouchers – which you could only acquire by standing in line for an hour or two upstairs. (On the plus side, if you did stand in line for one of those vouchers, you got a pretty awesome custom-made on-site printed Ender’s Game or Divergent t-shirt.)
After four days of struggling to collect all ten of them – one each for the Asp, Cat, Rat, Griffon, Phoenix, Salamander, Dragon, and Centipede armies as well as one bearing the International Fleet logo and one bearing a movie image of Ender in the Battle Room – we some how managed to walk away with two full sets. One for me and one for Jane. This was through our combined efforts, frantic trading among us and our friends, and the valiant efforts of Jane’s boyfriend, Jason, who we promised that if he managed to collect us a full set of the pins we would leave the convention at a reasonable time. (He had work the next morning but, of course, we didn’t leave at a reasonable time because c’mon of course we didn’t.)
The Summit booth also gave out some really awesome double-sided movie theatre quality Ender’s Game posters and some smaller prints of the same design.
Basically, they are going all out trying to promote the Ender’s Game film.
Considering the controversy that’s surrounding the film, maybe they need the extra boost in promotion and publicity. There is a growing movement to boycott the film due to author Orson Scott Card’s very outspoken anti-LGBT activism. But I think Gavin Hood handled this issue well when it came up during the Q&A in Hall H. The message of this story is about tolerance, morality, and humanity. And there are a lot of people involved in the making of this film. It’s not Orson Scott Card’s film – it’s their film. And it’s our film, too. Besides, Lionsgate is very pro-LGBT and has addressed the issue very well. No one involved in the film agrees with Orson Scott Card’s views. That has been made very clear and the company has dealt with the controversy very well.
With all that in mind, I’m still looking forward to FINALLY having a film adaptation of this movie after waiting for so long. In a way, I’m glad that we had to wait for so long. Technology today has a much better chance of doing the story justice than a movie ten years ago would have. The footage of the Battle Room and the space battles…
I can’t even.
Ender’s Game hits theatres Nov. 1st, 2012. Which is way too far away in my opinion.
Come to me Ender’s Game.
Come to me…