Let’s face it, sci-fi fans – screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci aren’t going to be satisfied until they’re involved in some form with essentially every (semi-)cult TV show or film franchise out there. The scribes behind Star Trek and first two Transformers movies have now revealed their involvement in another anticipated alternate-reality project: The adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.
Kurtzman and Orci (or K/O as they call themselves) have helped develop a script based off Card’s controversial 1985 work and are shopping it around to studios – with the assistance of X-Men Origins: Wolverine director Gavin Hood and Odd Lot Entertainment.
Word that Hood had reworked the Ender’s Game screenplay and was eying it as a potential directing vehicle emerged last September, but this is the first time Kurtzman and Orci’s names have popped up in the conversation. Orci tweeted the news last night and confirmed it to Screen Rant via email, indicating that he and his writing buddy were involved with Hood’s adaptation in some form – the pair likely either did some significant re-tooling of the script or merely polished it so it was prepped to show off to studio executives.
Regardless of how one feels about the quality of their cinematic and television output, it’s impossible not to admire Kurtzman and Orci’s work ethic. The duo co-created Fringe with J.J. Abrams; penned Jon Favreau’s comic book genre mashup, Cowboys & Aliens; produce and write for the series Hawaii Five-0; and are currently scribbling and/or typing away at the first draft of the Star Trek 2 screenplay, which Damon Lindelof promises will “thematically resonate” with Trekkies of all shades (take that as you will).
Orson Scott Card’s novel recounts the experiences of one Andrew “Ender” Wiggins, a pre-pubescent with a brilliant but violent temperament that attracts the attention of the International Fleet (a.k.a. IF) – an international military organization formed by humanity in the aftermath of two deadly attacks by an insectoid alien race known as the Formics (a.k.a. “Buggers”). Ender is selected to train at the Battle School, a military complex in outer space used to prepare Earth’s most intelligent children for combat against the next Bugger invasion. Got all that?
Ender’s Game follows its dangerous protagonist through his experiences at the Battle School, where he excels at training exercises and proves himself to be a ruthless tactical genius. But the mysterious and unseen leaders of the school remain ever watchful of Mr. Wiggins progress – and have much bigger plans for the boy than even he could imagine.
The original book is a multiple-award winner with a devoted following, but has also attracted its share of detractors who criticize how Card justifies young Ender’s brutally destructive but seemingly effective methods and behavior. It’s difficult to not be concerned about how Hood will handle a less than clean-cut character like that – seeing as that the last time he helmed a movie whose protagonist was a loner prone to violent outbursts, the results were… well, the less than well-received Wolverine prequel.
It’s possible that Kurtzman, Orci, and Hood have managed to soften Card’s often disturbing and occasionally graphic source material so as to make Ender’s Game more fit to become a PG-13, big-budget action pic with more mainstream appeal – rather than the darker, possibly R-Rated film to which the novel would lend itself. Whether that is the case remains to be seen. And whether fans think that’s a good idea is yet another issue.