Did you leave the theater after watching 'The Hunger Games' feeling like you wouldn't be able to wait until the sequel comes out? Have no fear, Lionsgate Films has already announced that they'll start filming the sequel (titled 'Catching Fire) in the fall of 2012. But if that's just not soon enough for you, I've got another science fiction film that you should be keeping tabs on, and Lionsgate gets the cred for this one too....enter Gavin Hood with his re-working of the classic Orson Scott Card sci-fi novel, 'Ender's Game.'
Hood, an established actor (Stargate SG1) and television director (Breakout Kings) has been chosen to helm this film about a young boy, Ender Wiggin (played by Asa Butterfield of 'Hugo') who just may be the savior of the human race. The term 'star-studded' barely does the assembled cast justice. Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld and Viola Davis round out the top end of the cast list.
The story begins 70 years after a gruesome battle with with the inhabitants of a distant alien planet has left the human race in fear for its very existence. No one seems to know exactly when the aliens will return to destroy earth. The only thing that anyone knows for sure is that they aliens are on their way and the human race needs to prepare its next generation for battle. At the center of our story is the young boy, Ender Wiggin.
Ender is a remarkably intelligent young man who's been gifted with an uncanny head for strategy. Born as the third child in a society that only allows two children per family, Ender is the one that never should have happened...the 'third.' His siblings, Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) and Valentine (Abigail Breslin) are equally gifted, but lack the drive and empathy that Ender has gained from being the youngest. Ender is selected by the leaders of a premier military school to train and follow in the footsteps of the last military leader to save the planet so many years ago, Mazer Rackham (played by Ben Kingsley.)
The book largely focuses on Ender's problem solving ability...which is largely done through internal monologue. This can be particularly tricky for films...endless narration from a main character can become tiresome...but if our director, Gavin Hood, takes any notes from movies like 'Blade Runner' he'll see that it can be done well. At any rate, the script has ample opportunities for massive action scenes that will appeal to any fan of science fiction films. There are spaceships, battles, futuristic weapons...this is sci-fi at its best!
Of course Lionsgate Films is jumping on the success of 'Hunger Games' with this production...who can blame them...but it's definitely taking hollywood production in a direction that is nothing but good for the quality of films being made these days. Finally, in a market where it's so difficult to find decent sci-fi that hasn't already been done before ('I Am Legend,' 'War of the Worlds,' 'Planet of the Apes,') or a sweet sci-fi script that hasn't been watered down by commercialism ('Real Steel,') Lionsgate promises to bring us a truly original piece of work!