Orson Scott Card's award-winning 1985 sci-fi parable, its story of a child prodigy named Ender recruited to fight against an alien race struck an immediate chord with the South African filmmaker.
"It stirred up all these feelings from when I was 17," he says, sitting in a London hotel and recalling when, at the height of the apartheid regime, he was drafted into his nation's army.
Now 50, Hood can still recall being yelled at, as he ran along a beach with a bayonet stabbing at straw men. "They just want you to be as aggressive as possible, and if you don't do it with great aggression, they send you to the back of the line and you keep doing it."
This may be different to Ender's futuristic training camp - floating in a zero-gravity arena firing laser-guns - but it left him shaken. "I remember distinctly being quite disturbed."
While Hood eventually left South Africa for Los Angeles after a friend was killed in Angola, violence has penetrated his work ever since. Think of his 2005 Oscar-winning Tsotsi, about Johannesburg gangs - a story inspired by his own parents' experience of being car-jacked. Or his 2007 Hollywood effort Rendition, about unorthodox American interrogation methods. In the case of Ender's Game, it is an anti-war cry in an age of drone warfare.
On the surface, Hood's film is the latest attempt for a slice of the lucrative teen market occupied by franchises such as Twilight and The Hunger Games. It has an attractive young cast - led by London-born Hugo star Asa Butterfield as Ender and Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin as his sister Valentine. There are sturdy performances from veterans Harrison Ford and Sir Ben Kingsley (complete with Maori tattoos) and special effects galore.
Yet swirling below are pertinent issues about our relationship to technology. "My little sister, who is four, she can work my mum's iPhone better than she can!" says 16-year-old Butterfield. "I guess in 50 years that is going to go to the next level - where children and teenagers are going to be miles ahead of people of the previous generation, knowing their way around technology. They have grown up with it, and they have grown up around war games."
In particular, games such as Call Of Duty, the best-selling series that puts players viscerally in war zones. "I am not a big fan," says Hood. "I'm not saying it's not a great game. But that is what is so seductive."
And it is not such a big step to go from PlayStation fantasy to horrifying reality, with military personnel now trained to drop bombs remotely via unmanned aircrafts. Just like Ender, "young people with good reactions on computers are very much sought after," argues Hood.
All of which makes Ender's Game one of the more thought-provoking blockbusters to emerge from Hollywood. With an already loyal online fanbase, can it spark a new franchise? Breslin, 17, sounds a note of caution.
"When something gets that popular, and people freak out over it so much, I don't think it's a pre-planned thing. I think it just happens by accident. I would never say, 'This is the next Twilight'." It continuity terms, it doesn't help that Card's next book, Speaker For The Dead, jumps two decades on, with Ender now in his 30s.
Yet Card's unwillingness to write a franchise-friendly series is hardly the first thing likely to derail the film's success. The deeply-religious, Mormon-raised Card's outspoken public opposition to same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage has caused outrage in some circles - with one LGBT group, Geeks OUT!, proposing a boycott of the film.
"I totally understand anyone's impulse who feels they do not want to see the film because of Orson," sighs Hood. "I get it."
Lions Gate, the studio behind the film in America, felt sufficiently compelled to issue a statement saying they "obviously go not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card".
Card was conspicuously absent from the panel at Comic-Con, the San Diego showcase seen as crucial for marketing such films to fans. When his views became magnified in the run-up to the film, "for all of us, this was an 'Oh Christ!' moment," admits Hood. "But given it is happening, I would rather run towards the problem than run away from it."
He admits it has been difficult to reconcile Card's "bigoted views" with a book that deals with issues of compassion and tolerance, but argues that art has to rise above the artist.
"I'll be damned if I am going to the throw the book out because the person who created this piece of work has, for whatever reason, found it difficult to come to terms with this particular issue in his life. It's his problem, not mine." Now it's up to the audience - whether or not to go to war on Ender's Game.
Ender's Game opens tomorrow