Ender's Game (2013)
The Earth was ravaged by the Formics, an alien race seemingly determined to destroy humanity. Fifty years later, the people of Earth remain banded together to prevent their own annihilation from this technologically superior alien species. Ender Wiggin, a quiet but brilliant boy, may become the savior of the human race. He is separated from his beloved sister and his terrifying brother and brought to battle school in orbit around earth. He will be tested and honed into an empathetic killer who begins to despise what he does as he learns to fight in hopes of saving Earth and his family.
In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Graff and the International Military seek to find a future leader who can save the human race. Ender Wiggin, a shy but strategically brilliant young mind, is recruited to join the elite, where he's trained to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth.
In the future, Earth is attacked by the alien race Formics and after many casualties, the hero Mazer Rackham destroys the mothership and defeats the aliens. Fifty years later, the outcast boy Ender Wiggin is recruited by Colonel Graff and Major Gwen Anderson to be part of a selected team of boys and girls that are being prepared by the International Military for the next invasion of the Formics. Colonel Graff believes that he may be the leader and savior of the human race, but Major Anderson is concerned with the psychological damages that may be caused to Ender.
Ender is a slight fragile teenager with the expanding mind of a genius. His brother, the brute jock, is violent and only sees through strength and brutality. His sister the kind and compassionate one sees only through an affected sense of contact. Ender is a third child in a population overloaded world that is reeling from the previous war with the alien race of insectivorous beings who work and behave like the ants nest, the Formics. Having been brought in to being by loving parents who gained permission for his birth, Ender feels he is not only unwanted but excess baggage to the world. However, his mind is his strength. He is gifted with the ability to become his aggressor and think like his aggressor thus giving him the key to the aggressor as he learns to love them through their frailty - using this to exploit them and thus destroy them. This ability is seen by those old men solidified in their ways, who have no flexibility in their thinking anymore, and exploit Ender to achieve their own ends. But at what cost, and to whom?
In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin, a shy but strategically brilliant young leader, is recruited to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult challenges and simulations, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military's next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he's trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
Young Ender Wiggin is recruited by the International Military to lead the fight against the Formics, a genocidal alien race which nearly annihilated the human race in a previous invasion.
- In the near future, humanity is preparing to launch an attack on the homeworld of an alien race called the Formics who had attacked Earth and killed millions; the Formic invasion was stopped by Mazer Rackham, who crashed his F-35 Lightning II into a Formic queen ship at the apparent cost of his life. Over the course of 50 years, gifted children are trained by the International Fleet to become commanders of a new fleet for this counter-attack.
12-year-old Cadet Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) draws the attention of Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) by his aptitude in simulated space combat. They order the removal of his monitor, signifying the end of the cadet program. Ender is attacked by Stilson, a bully student he defeated in the combat sim, but Ender fights back and severely injures him. Ender confesses his grief to his older sister Valentine, but is harassed further by their older brother Peter. That evening while the family is having dinner, Graff arrives to reveal he was being tested and is still part of the program. Graff brings Ender to Battle School, an orbiting space station in Earth's orbit, placing Ender with other cadets his age, but treats him as extraordinary, ostracizing him from the others.
Among other studies, the cadets are placed in squads and perform training games in a zero gravity "Battle Room". Ender quickly adapts to the games, devising new strategies older students have not yet seen. Graff reassigns Ender to Salamander Army, led by Commander Bonzo Madrid, a short, bitter, but intimidating squad leader. Bonzo, believing that Ender is inept due to his size, prevents him from training with the rest of the squad. Another cadet, Petra Arkanian, takes Ender and trains him privately. While Bonzo is aware of this, he does not take any action against Petra. In one match, Bonzo orders Ender to stay behind while the rest of the Salamander Army fights another team; however, seeing Petra in trouble, Ender comes to her aid and helps the Salamander Army win. After the match, Bonzo is humiliated by the other students and threatens Ender if he embarrasses him again.
Meanwhile, Ender plays a computerized "mind game" set in a fantasy world aimed to present difficult choices to the player. In one situation, Ender creates an outside the box solution to overcome a seemingly unsolvable problem. Later, he encounters a Formic in the game, and then a simulated image of Valentine entering the ruins of a castle. Inside, he finds another image of Valentine but as he nears, it turns into an image of Peter before the game ends.
Graff promotes Ender to his own squad, made from other students that have gained Ender's trust. They are put in increasingly difficult battles. In one match against two other teams including Bonzo's squad, Ender devises a novel strategy of sacrificing part of his team to achieve a goal, impressing Graff. Bonzo accosts Ender in the bathroom after the match, but Ender fights back and Bonzo falls during the struggle, seriously injured. Distraught over this, Ender prepares to quit Battle School, but Graff has Valentine speak to him and convince him to continue.
Graff takes Ender to humanity's forward base on a former Formic planet near their homeworld. There, Ender meets Rackham, who explains how he spotted the shared-mind nature of the Formics to stop the attack fifty years prior. Ender finds that his former squad members are also here to help him train in computerized simulations of large fleet combat; Rackham puts special emphasis on the fleet's Molecular Detachment (MD) Device that is capable of disintegrating matter. Ender's training is rigorous and Anderson expresses concern they are pushing Ender too fast, but Graff notes they have run out of time to replace Ender.
Ender's final test is monitored by several of the fleet commanders. As the simulation starts, Ender finds his fleet over the Formic homeworld and vastly outnumbered. He orders most of his fleet to sacrifice themselves to protect the MD long enough to fire on the homeworld. The resulting chain reaction burns over the surface of the planet, killing the entire population. The simulation ends, and Ender believes the test is over, but the commanders restart the video screens, showing that the destruction of the Formic homeworld was real and Ender had been controlling the real fleet this time. Despite Graff's assurance he will be known as a hero, Ender is furious as he feels responsible for the annihilation and that everyone will remember him as a killer.
As Ender struggles with his emotions, he recognizes one of the Formic structures nearby similar to the ruined castle from the game, and believing they were trying to communicate with him, races out towards it. He follows the path set by the game, and encounters a dying Formic queen. The Queen acknowledges Ender's role in the genocide of their race, but that he simply wanted peace in the long term and forgives him. The Queen later gives Ender a queen egg that it had been protecting.
After the war, Ender is promoted to Admiral, given a small ship, and left to his own devices. In a letter to Valentine, he tells her that he is going into deep space, determined to form a new Formic colony with the queen egg.