Ender's Game (2013) Poster


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Tom Orrow25 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ender's Game had a lot of work to do from the outset. The movie had to overcome years of development hell, a questionable production team and controversy surrounding the authors political ideals.

But despite all the odds, Ender's Game winds up as a very good movie that just barely misses on being a great one.

The story follows our hero Ender Wiggin, a newly recruited member of a battle school designed to train young people to prepare to war with a deadly alien force. Ender finds himself often alienated and must overcome incredible pressure from everywhere.

The story remains very faithful to Orson Scott Cards original novel, even small details that are not on surface crucial to the story are present, so its clear the film-makers did their best to make it as close to the book as they could. Only one major sub-plot about Ender's siblings back home on earth is omitted (which in my opinion was a wise choice, because taking the story away from battle school would have hurt the flow of the film).

The actors are great, Asa Butterfield absolutely owns the role of Ender Wiggin, effortlessly switching emotional gears when needed. Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff is clearly having a lot of fun in this movie, it's the liveliest the actor has been in years. Other supporters like Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld and Ben Kingsley also bring a lot of charisma to the screen and make even small roles memorable.

Perhaps the films biggest strength is its production design, the technical team did an outstanding job of bringing the environments of the battle school to life, the zero gravity combat scenes being some of the films biggest highlights.

It's not all perfect however, there is a little problem with some of the heavy exposition dumps in the film. Plus a couple of the actors (most notably Viola Davis) seem lost and don't know what kind of movie they're supposed to be doing.

The biggest problem with Ender's Game is the incredibly fast pace, which isn't an immediate issue, but a lot of story and character development suffers. We're barely 10 minutes into the movie before Ender is blasted off to battle school. All the back story about Ender and his family, his turbulent relationship with his older brother Peter and his delicate relationship with this sister Valentine, plus a lot of the history of the alien invasion are largely skimmed over and this lack of depth hurts the movie. This and also the fact that no-one seems to age throughout the film gives the impression that this whole thing is taking place in a very short amount of time, unlike the novel which took years.

But the whole time the film builds towards a really remarkable conclusion, one that when it come is both morose and uplifting. It's one of the most striking endings to a film like this in a long time.

Overall its a really good movie that I would highly recommend, it's far more that the Star Wars meets Hunger Games tag its been given by so many.
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At last - a film that is too short!
basilisksamuk26 October 2013
You know how you sometimes read those annoying reviews by people moaning about how the film is nothing like the book? Well I'm not going to do that. I am going to say that they made as good a film as possible without changing anything significant (other than the ages of the recruits which they obviously needed to do to make the story filmable.)

Ender's Game was much better than I expected and surprisingly so given the years it has been in development hell with various names attached to it. As it turns out Gavin Hood was the director to bring this to life. The design and production values are excellent and I especially liked the animated sequences where Ender enters the computer game crafted uniquely for him. The cast was pretty much perfect and they all played with conviction. I was impressed from the start by the way the film makes clear that Ender progresses so quickly because he is a brilliant strategist and Asa Butterfield is a good enough actor to convey this without resorting to over-acting.

The film does not shy away from the brutality of the lives that these young recruits lead, at least not within the confines of a 12A film, and the ending is as shocking and moving as it should be. My only real criticism of the film is that it's too short, not something you normally hear from me. Ender just seems to progress too quickly and we miss some of the nuances and real difficulties he encounters along the way. Unless sequels are planned then we could probably have done without Ender's family background and relationship with his sister and brother and devoted more to the Battle School.

Overall though, this film was worth the long gestation period. It delivers more than we had a right to expect. Orson Scott Card may be homophobic but the powerful message at the heart of this film says much more than the average Hollywood film is capable of delivering.
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Very enjoyable movie that doesn't do justice to the book
clark441 November 2013
As a fan of the book, I really wasn't sure I wanted to see this movie. Great books hardly ever adapt into good films. But my friend wanted to see it, so I agreed to tag along on opening night.

I have to say, as a movie, it is genuinely enjoyable. The visuals are starkly entrancing without being distracting. The casting is pitch-perfect - Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield, in particular, do a great job. The ending is particularly well done (don't worry - it wasn't really spoiled by the trailer).

The problem is, it's really just a caricature of the book. The drama in Battle School moves too quickly, the characters of Peter and Valentine are almost completely absent, and even Ender's video game is sadly underdone. I'm not usually a fan of splitting books into multiple movies, but this is one where two films would have done it justice. Also, the kids are just too old - there's an ironic moment in the movie where two officers talk about how conscripting kids under 15 "used to be illegal", yet all the actors playing the kids look 15 or older!

Still, it's a fun ride, and if you hadn't read the book these flaws really wouldn't be apparent. Definitely see it in the theater if you can - the battle room scenes are best on a big screen.
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Fails Spectacularly as a Movie
Donald Armstead1 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When you go to a movie whose book you have read several times, You expect it to compromise the story a little. But I did not expect it to fail so spectacularly on every level.

No character development. You get no sense of who any of the characters are.

The battle game is barely in the movie. Ender gets Dragon army; He says "training begins now" and then it just cuts to an image of Dragon moving up the leader board.

At no point do they attempt to explain why Ender is chosen to be the commander of the entire Earth fleet. They show none of his innovations, leadership ability, and he is downright unlikable at times. Everyone moves to his lunch table because he insults Bernard in class? What? That's why people will follow him to their death? Snark?

I've known for two years that they cast an Ender that's too old but I didn't expect him to be a FOOT TALLER than Bonzo Madrid. They call Ender a Third several times but don't bother to explain what that means.

The acting is awful (especially Ender, WE DID IT!!), the dialogue is pathetic. The special effects are nothing groundbreaking. The simulator scenes are pointless as you can't follow what's going on.

Command School is "near the bugger home world". WHAT? How did they get there in time?? The fleet left right after the buggers did! And it's Molecular Disruption Device, not a Scorch the Surface of the Planet device.

Three stars just because it was recognizable as Ender's game
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Loved the book, Severely disappointed with movie
drhanusey1 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the trailer for Enders Game about 6 weeks ago, its piqued my interest so I investigated and wound up reading the book. I was blown away! in 6 weeks I've read 7 of the 13 titles in the "Enderverse". So to say that I have been staring at a calendar waiting for this movie to be released is an understatement. Right from the beginning I was disappointed with the portrayal of Ender. His distinguishing feature is his intelligence, and the slow talking Asa Butterfield almost seemed to be concentrating on his lines and being able to deliver them in an American accent rather then speaking like one of the most intelligent 12 year old's on the planet. I understand he had big shoes to fill, Ender is one of those great characters that stay with you for the rest of your life, that being said I firmly believe they chose the wrong actor.

I don't mind that they had to change things around, I realize it had to be done, however they tried too hard to take a little bit of each section of the book and put them all together with out realizing that without enough detail the smaller samples were not realistic or convincing. Ender is supposed to become one of the greatest leaders in human history as well as winning his soldiers respect to that point where they would "follow him to the moon without a space suite" during his time at battle school but the movie would have you believe Ender won the allegiance of his hostile class mates by cracking a single joke!? There was no character development for Enders fellow classmates, other then Petra this movie could have been written without any of them and probably would have been better off for it.

The battle room looked fantastic. The special effects in said battle room came up a little short. Maybe because I saw the making of Enders Game, or maybe because I saw "Gravity" a few weeks back, but the zero G stunts were not very good. Even though that was the case the look of the transparent walls of the battle room with Earth looming in the background carried enough weight as eye candy to make me want to see all the battles that Ender winds up winning with Dragon army. Unfortunately for me and those that read the book there was only one battle, a mix between 2 of the battle from the book that came towards the end of his training. This was just too rushed, I realize you can only cover so much with a 2 hour movie but this was not the way to do it.

They quickly promote Ender to command school where he will be trained to command against the formics. They changed up part of this story and skipped over some of the deeper explanation about the ansible and sending the fleet to attack the buggers planet 50 years earlier immediately following the first invasion, but i feel this lack of detail left the following scenes less emotional then they could have been. The feeling that Ender was humanities last hope, and that the following battles would determine weather or not humanity will continue on or perish came up very short. I gave this film 3 stars pretty much based solely on the last several "simulation" battles. the special effect for these I thought were very cool. Enders control of the battle and being able to change perspective and zoom in and out were nice. But as was the theme for the whole movie, things were rushed, a montage was used to give the feeling that the team was being run down, Enders mentions at one point how hard him and his team are taking it having to do all these simulations over the past months. However Asa Butterfields acting didn't sell it. None of Enders soldiers really sold the feeling of being completely run down to the point where (in the book) Petra falls asleep in the middle of a battle, or Hot Soup (i think it was him) goes catatonic due to the grueling schedule. Again, these 12 years olds are supposed to be the best of the best on earth trained in a military facility to be Napoleonic commanders, but come across as a bunch or little kids having a good old time playing wii at a sleepover where they stayed up past their bed time. These kids shouldn't have been smiling at all, there should have been cold calculating looks on there faces with intelligence in there eyes and barrack talk coming out of their mouths. Anyway, the final "test" was visually stimulating, it did have a sense of urgency, and there was a nice boom at the end.

I could go on about several other aspects of the movie that I was disappointed with (Graff, Anderson, Dap, Mr/Mrs Wiggins, Ender/Valentine, Bonzo..... all fell short) but I won't. I truly truly do not understand any positive reviews from anyone who has read this book. I can only imagine they were as hype as I was going into and let there preconceived notions of how great this movie would be take over for the time being. 7.0 / 10.0 .... way to high. Movies aren't supposed to be better then the books, everyone knows this, but as "The Hunger Games" recently demonstrated, they can still be good.
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The most lavish morality play ever set to film
A_Different_Drummer18 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Elsewhere in the IMDb I reviewed Claire's Knee, one of the many "morality" films of Eric Rohmer, at one time considered the master of the genre. Wrong! ENDERS GAME is to Rohmer's work what the Federal Reserve is to an ATM. It is possibly the most elaborate morality play ever filmed, including not only top A-list stars but top CGI effects as well. Plus of course the blessing (and participation) of Orson Scott Card, the author of the original work. Most astonishing of all (to this reviewer) is how the film succeeds in spite of itself. The idea of entrusting children with the future of your planet is both brilliant and counter-intuitive at the same time. And with the sole exception of Asa Butterfield -- who, trust me, has a major career ahead of him if he wants it, he could pass for William Shatner's greatgrandson - the rest of the children are, well, children, and this creates some uncomfortable moments in the film which, I suspect, were NOT intentional. And Harrison Ford was very brave for taking this role because frankly the closeups were not kind -- he is a half-decade younger than the almost-80 Bob Redford (also working these days) but looks older. THE TRUE BRILLIANCE OF THIS FILM, moreso than any other in recent memory, is the way the director allowed it to work simultaneously on the viewer's two natures -- the logical, and the emotional. Through the two hours, your logic tells you that something is amiss and you cannot believe you are tolerating this twisty tale. Yet at the same time, your emotions -- aided by a great sound track, great cinematography, -- and the aforementioned young Asa who more or less carries the entire film on his back -- is having a great old time and really getting into the (completely illogical) story. A very unique work, and one that will not easily be forgotten.
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An exciting adaptation true to the story
DannyDawg30 October 2013
Ender's Game is not a perfect film. It rushes through certain important points, and leaves out other parts altogether, instead what you get is a flawed but enjoyable movie that ultimately succeeds, because it always keeps its goal in sight.

Certain things about this movie such as the justification for child soldiers, Ansible Technology, and the Genius of the main group of Kids will be best understood by the book readers.

The film has wonderful visuals with exciting CGI to showcase the important Battle Room.

The Acting by Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield is one of the strengths this project has. They maintain a tense and believable relationship that is very much like the original story.

Ultimately the climax of this movie and its main message is what sets it apart from many other Sci-Fi films. The emotion is very much there, and anyone willing to give this film a try will not be disappointed.
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Internals Revealed
tedg27 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I do dimly recall the first couple books of the series. They were engagingly written. But more importantly, they used a device that probably won't work today.

The books were powerful because they focused on Ender's internal mind. The second book folded this into Ender's own book a what it wrought. A very clever structure. The first book was imagined second, and had to use a different folding device. The solution was games.

This wouldn't work today because games have become more prescriptive and in the world. In the eighties, they were vastly more abstract, closer to the imagination than to furniture.

See, the thing is that winds of the mind are ephemeral. You have to describe something else to convey the shape of them. This is why, for example, something as invisible as love is conveyed through stories of war or political upheaval.

Card's war was only an excuse for the exclusive focus on war gaming, which could stand in and illuminate his internal emotional forces. These were suitably simplified for a teen audience, so the match could be well made. But in the book, the genius is that reader invented what the games looked like, being a cocreater of the world. The pathway through the games then segued to a pathway for the alien creature. Not sure why so many of these alien creatures are insect- like.

The movie has most of the same story, but none of this folding. The war is real. The games are as real as the real world (with one exception). So what we are stuck with is having to get Ender's emotions from the face of a weak child actor.

Nothing to say about Harrison Ford. He has a rough enough life.
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One of the most appallingly lazy scripts I've seen in years
felixtherat20 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Visually stunning, well performed, but my oh my.

As a small example, Ender's emails home to his sister, with whom he has a string emotional rapport and which he reads aloud, read like a dry, cold shopping list of what's just happened and what's about to happen. Like so much of the dialogue, they serve the purpose of informing the audience, and *no effort whatsoever* has been made to make it fit in with the story. It's so unbelievably appalling it actually makes you feel like the makers have a personal grudge against their audience.

What's more, the movie is brimmed with premises that make no sense - and it relies heavily on these to function. For example, the essential premise that the Formic's "can't talk" and so humanity has never attempted communication - yet they a have huge, industrial-sized and highly technical army, that invades far-off planets - so it's clear to everyone from the start that unless they spontaneously do the same thing at the same time, then it's obvious they communicate with one another, and have done so for thousands of years. I'm not kidding - the notion that they communicate *at all* only occurs to Ender right at the end of the movie, in a somewhat forced scene that was thrown in to make the end make sense - and this fact, or the failure of mankind to realise it, is absolutely pivotal to the plot! His commander even denies out loud that it's possible for Formics to communicate - fifty years *after* they launched an invasion on planet earth!

Equally bizarrely, the Formics' motivation for invading Earth is that they are about to "breed themselves into extinction" (sic). I can barely imagine how lazy and ignorant you have to be to surmise that because overpopulation = bad, therefore overpopulation = extinction. Give it half a moment's thought, heck, even do a little cursory research - it's just not a bright conclusion to reach, is it?

Throw in some really uncomfortable lines - you know the ones - establish a strong character for Ben Kingsley (he always shines at these, I think rather he established it for himself) , then give him some throwaway line that serves no purpose except to inform the audience what's going on (again)... oh God, stop it, it hurts!

As the final image faded to credits, I actually muttered "f*** you" under my breath, because that's truly how I felt. Kind of violated.

Do yourself, and the film medium, a favour - TAKE YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE
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From a die hard fan to a disappointed one
naduenas31 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I read this book for the first time as a teenager in high school and found it to be a world of unknown limitations, where rational thought intelligent decisions, and carefully calculated emotions ruled the day guided by a genius mind. The images conveyed in every page of detailed descriptive writing, from the desperation of Valentine losing a 6 year old Ender, to the anguish of Ender, knowing he killed Bonzo, every major emotion was exploited and bared before the reader. The book was too short for what the readers wanted, and left us craving more, both in the continuing back stories such as Ender's Shadow as well as the deeper philosophical aspects of Xenophobia and those books which followed.

This movie, however, left those of us who eagerly awaited the transition of the novel to the big screen appalled and eager for the lights to come up so we could hastily exit the theater, shaking our heads in utter disappointment at the epic failure that is Ender's Game: the movie. From the lack of voice-over (the only proper way to explain the large portion of the book told through Ender's thoughts) to the stilted acting, to the condensation of close to a decade of learning to less than a year, each minute was painful to watch, and even more difficult to swallow. The only thing that could have made this movie more of a disappointment in my book, would have been if it had been not only poorly written and acted, but also lacking in the visual graphics.

I will say, the movie is beautiful to watch, though incorrect according to the descriptions in the book, but at least there's something nice on the screen that can ease the sting of the tattered shreds of a great story that's being crammed down your throat...
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I enjoyed it
simonpcpearson30 October 2013
I'll begin by saying that I haven't read the book and had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by what is an exciting science fiction adventure.

Harrison Ford is the reason I watched this, and he is first rate. It might be argued that Ford is playing to the gruff stereotype he has essayed in any number of recent films, but I like this performance.

The younger members of the cast were unfamiliar to me, but they acquit themselves well. I was drawn into the story and the emoitional journey within.

The visuals are stunning. Even the most cynical or jaded critic cannot deny the movie is beautiful to watch. Worth the cost of a movie ticket.
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Absolutely Terrible
Kerem Gogus21 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I remember when someone first shared Ender's Game trailer on a social site, everyone was very excited and defensive about it. I commented saying "I'm hoping its not a 'superkids saving the earth movie'..." - someone told me its much more than that. And till the 1:22:40 of the movie I was still waiting something to happen.

And it was EXACTLY what I've said and nothing more than a dull & boring "superkids saving the earth" movie. Take the fancy VFX out there's absolutely nothing on the film. And with VFX its already nothing but a video game.

Besides the terrible story-telling, there was absolutely zero creativity on the movie, from concept design to VFX. Aliens were nothing but a praying mantis... How creative(!) I'm sure Gnodongolong Superschool of VFX did all these. Since everything they do look the same...

They tried a plot twist near the end and failed big time there also. It was a total waste of precious time. I wish I'd never give a chance to this... Fancy VFX and big budget can't buy the creative talent and fine skills of story telling.

1 out of 10 from me.
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time waste
Equi Librium10 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The plot is absolute vomit! The writer ate a dictionary and puked out the story.

1. We have a superior alien space fleet attacking Earth 2. Earth fighting back with 21 century air planes 3. Alien fleet is invincible except for one week spot that enables 1 Plane and a brilliant commander to crash the whole fleet 4. Although saving the earth and becoming a legend he stays a colonel and no one though of developing his brilliance 5. Earth decides that children would handle a future invasion as commanders of new build fleet much better 6. Alliance race rebuilds there fleet but wait for Earth to train the 'Chosen One Child Commander' 7. Alien race can read minds of every one on Earth and communicate with them telepathically (Including the mind of the Chosen one) but still wait for earth to train the chosen one witch is going to destroy them. 8. Finale battle …….the writer takes months and years of hard military trading in tactics and implement all this knowledge into two brilliant commands 'fire. fire', 'Fire on the fleet and fire on the planet' its all done by a super weapon that can destroy a whole fleet with one shot and a whole planet with another. 9. For his brilliancy the child is made an Admiral

Blargh… Blaaaaaahhhhhhh… (splash)
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Ady Davis30 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
After seeing the first half I knew it was a complete waste of time and money. Seeing a bunch of 8 graders playing war games and given powers to destroy planets was so retarded. Let's choose a kid as the prime minister and another one as the army leader. Why not, is so plausible, right? It's absolutely stupid to believe that some kids that play video games are capable of fighting an alien race by themselves and win !!!!! I can't express my feelings towards this "movie" that, besides good computer generated special effects is a big zero for plot, action, acting, directing...total fiasco !!! Can't understand where the 7.1 comes from ?
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worst book to movie adaptation i have ever seen
yuval-slijper5 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
As a reader, Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" is with no doubt my favorite book, therefor i had been waiting for a movie to come out for a long time, but what i didn't know was that Gavin Hood will one day take one of the best books ever written and destroy it in at least a billion ways until the storyline was barely recognizable and watching the movie actually made me sick. It would not be possible to list all the horrible choices done by the producers because you can simply find at least ten in every single scene from the movie starting with "Bonito De Madrid's" 1.5m tall portrayal by Moises Arias through the complete disregard of the Peter and Valentine story and much more.

if you have read the book and haven't watched the movie i recommend not watching this movie...ever, if you have watched the movie and not read the book... go read the book, if you've done both i recommend you just try to forget the horror you must have felt during the movie and just try to go on with your life.

thank you for reading and sorry if there were any grammatical mistakes.
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It was so awful
ariaxua3 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Yeah, this movie could be probably good to some 12 year old, but to me it was just simply awful. I went for the movie with my friend and thorough whole movie we kept face palming and yawning from boredom.

SPOILERS down there!

So first of all, why did it have to be a little kid who leads the 'battle'? The older guys/commanders wanted to pretty much do what he did then: destroy the planet because there are queens. They taught him, and then he did the job they wanted to be done. I don't really see how he was a 'genius' compared to those older commanders. Other than that it was just so damn childish, the simulation battles? Really? They wanted to make it super serious but it was just a bunch of kids playing laser tag. No matter how hard I tried, i couldn't take it seriously. I don't even want to describe how ridiculous was how they formed a team of some outcasts and they just suddenly became awesome geniuses because of Ender andd wuuuu And the ending! So basically at the end of the movie he randomly meets with some bug, gets queen egg and says he will now travel galaxies finding a home for it? Ehhh? What? Are you damn serious? Come on, how dumb is that. yeah, it could be a good movie for a kid

Basically I advise anyone above 12 years old not to watch it.

Also I did not read the book, just randomly went for this boring movie.
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What does it profit a man to save the world and lose his soul? Hood doesn't flinch from dark nature of Card's seminal novel.
Sergio Campanale25 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Science fiction started life around the Enlightenment as a conduit for debates about society, about morals and about what makes us human, and what the future might hold, maintaining that same role as our science and technology advanced exponentially over the centuries. Then came its poorer sibling, the sci-fi that was just about the thrills and spills and the effects and action only. The best science fiction of course is a fine blend of the two, of the cerebral and the visceral.

One such novel was "Enders Game" by the Orson Scott Card, which used the familiar sci-fi cliché of the alien invasion of Earth and the pan- national fight back to examine a very real but troubling dilemma which affects any nation that considers itself to be "modern" and "civilized", which is that often in order to protect those very things, we, or those entrusted to defend us, have to embrace the opposite of all our values. The young men and women we take and train to kill without hesitation and mercy, to risk death and injury while taking life, then expecting them to return home and be normal. But to abandon that duty of defence may leave our values and our futures at stake, and so by doing nothing lose everything. Is there even a correct answer to this conundrum, and if not then how can we handle the conflict that arises?

After many years as "an unfilmable novel" it finally arrives as an impressive medium budget movie. Director Gavin Hood, who helmed the mess that was "X-Men origins: Wolverine" 4 years ago redeems himself on the sci-fi front by delivering a film that is at once spectacular looking and narratively flowing and gripping, while at the same time not flinching from the dark, sombre heart of the story.

The plot takes place 50 years after a devastating attack on Earth by highly evolved Ants called "Formics" who were looking for new colonies to deal with their chronic over-population, an invasion repulsed thanks to an "ID4" style manoeuvre by legendary pilot Mazer Rackham. What was left of us evolved into a highly advanced, but highly militarised society with interstellar capability and fleets of high tech space cruisers. The military realised that the best minds for strategy where those of children, who were gifted in intuition and daring thought lost in conventional upbringings, and so train the young at tough military academies, selecting the best for officer command. The brightest star is young Ender Wiggin ("Hugo"s Asa Butterfield) who is targeted by chillingly utilitarian General Graff (Harrison Ford) who subjects him to often horrifying mind games, putting him into conflicts with the other cadets around him, isolating him and putting his back ever further to the wall. The only one to help is psychologist Anderson (Viola Davis) who knows that she is complicit in the warping and destruction of the souls of children even if it is to a greater good. He makes enemies but also friends, chief among which is Petra (Hailee Steinfield) When he shows brilliance at the zero gravity team war games, a fight with another cadet ends in tragedy and Ender turns his back on everything, being especially conflicted by the fact that his unique understanding of Formic thought and culture makes him empathise with the very ones he is to destroy. Using his beloved sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) as leverage, Ender is given command of a fleet positioned off the Formic homeworld, with Petra and his friends as his team, where a massive military build-up is terrifying the veteran top brass into a strategy of all out aggression. Here he is taken under the wing of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) himself. As the big attack on Formica approaches, Ender begins to feel some of the Formics are trying to communicate with him telepathically. Can peace prevail, or can only one race be left standing? And even if they win, what will be left of the soul of Ender and his team at the end of it?

The special effects are impressive, even if most of the "big battle" stuff is in the trailer. The excellent cast all do justice to their characters and their struggles, and every part from the major to the minor are well filled and directed. The film also updates the sentiments to our current world, not hiding the obvious fact that we are all living out this dilemma right now but without giving simple answers. "Star Trek", which was the modern home of ethical dilemma sci-fi, attempted to grapple with similar questions in this summer's "reboot" instalment "Star Trek into the Darkness", yet did so with all the clumsiness, lack of skill and tracing paper thin profundity typical of what now calls itself "Star Trek". This film on the other hand treats it as the REAL series that Gene Rodenberry created would have. It also evokes thoughts of some of the higher end Japanese Manga and Anime, who use a similar set up and youthful military elite in their dark, ethically troubled tales.

Not the fun, exciting happy go lucky movie for kids that some of the marketing suggests, it is instead a deep, warm, troubling, thrilling, moving, spectacular film that is suitable both for adults (despite the juvenile cast) and for teenagers and children (8+) who will hopefully be introduced to the ideas and questions it raises, and will find themselves stimulated to form their own answers, as they must inevitably do some day.
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A rushed sound-bite movie - a disappointment
Peter Wills27 October 2013
I have no problem with movies based on books if they are done well.

For me, doing them badly involves quoting a couple of pages near verbatim then tearing out and ignoring the next twenty. In my view, this is what has been done in adapting Ender's Game, the remnants have been stacked together as a bunch of sound-bites and run at fast forward speed, leaving no time for character progression and the growth of friendships that is the mainstay to the original story.

It may be that, like Philip Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy, this was an unmakeable film so we should perhaps thank them for their brave effort that didn't quite make it.

In failing, the film is a testament to the writing of Card that he could cram so much story into just 350 paperback pages that it couldn't been captured in 2 hours on the screen.

And finally, Ben Kingsley's performance, what a shocker! Think we'll see more of Asa Butterfield though.
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What was the Editor's Game?
gloshpit27 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Unfilmable, he said. OSC said that his "Pre-teen Sociopath Commits Genocide On Unfortunately Named Space Ants In Space" novel was unable to be filmed simply because the majority of the content takes place in Ender's head. His feelings, the complexity of dealing with his siblings, his resentment and burden of duty. So what best way to apply this cerebral sci-fi to celluloid?

Just ignore the thinky bits.

Ender's Game, The Movie certainly cracks along at quite a pace, you're not left looking at your watching and wondering how long before things wrap up. And the acting is solid enough, complaints there. What doesn't work is the adaptation itself, and the editing.

Anyone who's read the books before going into the cinema will recognise the framework of the story, but will wonder where all of the plot went. Peter appears for all of one scene, solely to show that, yes, he's a violent dick. Valentine appears more often, but mostly as a plot device more than anything character driven. Valentine is nice, Ender likes Valentine, Ender misses Valentine. Locke and Demosthenes? Never heard of them, they don't exist in this version of events. The Mind Game, the one that Ender plays throughout EGTB and mirrors his mental state and thought process? Reduced to a two minute Flash game on an iPad and a sequence of foreshadowing for later in the movie. The series of battle games between the armies that slowly erode Ender's resolve as Graff systematically changes the rules to break Ender down? One 2 v 1 match. Characters are blurred together and virtually written out (notably, neither of the kids Ender beats the hell out of die, assumedly to garner audience empathy - and all the characters are at about twice the age of the ones in the novels, maybe to stop people having to see a 6 year old boy murder another kid in the showers...) and the end result is very different to the novels.

And the editing. It's all over the place - when watching this movie you will feel that it's an edited for TV version and that someone cut out the wrong scenes. The first battle room scene ends abruptly, with not even a discussion of what happened in it. Ender goes from being in Salamander army to being given the name of a new army, to having a whole new army who almost instantly respect him. Worst of all is Ender wanting to quit the program, whereas in EGTB it took place over time and was caused by Graff's increasingly gruelling changing of rules, in EGTM it happens after one game, and the sudden jumps in narrative make Ender look at best like a petulant child and at worst like a schizophrenic:

Graff: "Wake them up early for a game!" Ender: "It's 3am, we're playing a game!" Ender's Army: "It's 2 v 1!" Ender: "Graff's changing the rules! We can still do this, follow my instructions." Ender's Army: "We won using a combination of sacrifice and improbable formations that probably won't foreshadow anything later in the movie at all, hooray!" Ender: "Everything is awesome!" Bonzo: "I am named after a dog and therefore hate you, let me beat you up." Ender: "Oh no, I fought back and hurt him, but he is DEFINITELY still alive. I hate you, Graff, everything is terrible and I'm running away to Earth!"

Although the film as a whole moves quickly, the story itself lurches in patches of ten minute sequences, followed by jumps to the next patch. Perhaps due to the nature of the novel, if you take out the internal narrative and subplots this is what you get, but it seems strange that on one hand the movie would take such liberties with the source material, but on the other hand follow the set pieces so slavishly that it would disrupt the flow of the story.

As a sci-fi film in a vacuum, it's competent - for some reason it reminded me of Stargate, with elements of The Hunger Games - but flawed in places and has a very uneven and badly edited narrative flow. As an adaptation of EGTB... it's a bit of a Bugger.
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Needed to be longer
Edward Tholl31 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
OK, So I am on record somewhere as saying "You, cannot expect a Film to be the same as the book". I whole heartedly believe that and have enjoyed many films that are based on books even with the differences necessary do to time and the visual media its being transferred too.

The book originated as the short story "Ender's Game", published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Over the last few months since the announcement of the films release I have reread the book.

Those who have not read the book may enjoy the film but in the theater i was in I was talking with a few people around me and found that all did the same thing, one guy had reread it three times in the past month and one couple has read everything Orson Scott Card ahas written. From this word of mouth will kill this movie I think. It is seriously lacking in any real character development for ANY of the Characters in the film. I think many of the the actors where miscast and seriously took you out of the story.

Now I'm not talking about the fact that in the book the kids are 6-16 years old geniuses with the major character of Ender Wiggins being the youngest, there was no way a film could be made with a cast that young.

Im talking about the journey he takes in the book, its really well thought out and executed. In the film you really do not get to know anything about how or why they kids are there, nor why some of the major plot points happen. Most of the conflicts that happen throughout the book from his brother Peter, the Bully in school, Colonial Graff, and even Bonso Madrid are glossed over.

The entire storyline of whats happening on earth is completely missing, most likely for time. but that plot line was needed for some of the things that happen at the end of the book so without them end is weak.

Major plot devices like the development of the Battle room are abbreviated to one battle, that takes place between Enders group and two opposing armies and takes only a few min to play out. In the books there's a series of battles escalating to this one and with out the progression (those having read the book know what i mean) there's no real feeling of the stress that final battle meant in the ark of Enders Training.

I could go on about all the things wrong with the film, I even tried to calm myself down and try to look at it on its own merit and leave the book out of it, and trying that only saw how pathetically weak the exciting story was.

the film runs 114 min, I do not often say this but they really needed to make it about 150 min so they could do it right. maybe there's a longer directors cut that will come out on DVD that will rescue this film.
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Sad they ruined a perfect book..
darkfirebg18 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Let's start with the obvious. Story isn't what it used to be in the book. It's far more shiny, oriented toward Colonel Graff(Harrison Ford) instead of Ender, lot of the important things in the book are completely gone! Unfortunately, they just hollywooded it. Ender's game wasn't a book about shiny spaceships and space stations. It was about a terrible war against non-human enemy, and about our only hope - a guy like Ender! It was also about his genius brother and sister, which we almost didn't see in the entire movie! Also there was blood, a lot of it, and here everything was shiny and clean, and Ender wasn't shown as the genius in the book.. I got the feeling there only've been around 20-30 kids on the training camp instead of hundreds! Also too little attention to the Ender's game at the end - 2 battles and that's it? Pathetic! Way to short movie to picture the Ender's universe. All in all i felt completely betrayed by this cheap Hollywood movie. I know most movies aren't as good as the book, but this is completely different story, only the names of the characters are the same.. P.S. Sorry for my non native English.
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Much better than expected (from a fan of the book)
gozo200x27 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Two things first: I love the book "Ender's Game" and its 3 follow ups and no, I have no tolerance for Orson Scott Card's homophobia which is so very much in contrast to the themes of this brilliant series of books, which belong to the rare species of intelligent, thought provoking and well written Scifi. So this review - rather a 'how does the film compare to the book' - comes from a fan and will contain huge spoilers. Only read on if you know the book or have seen the film.

I was absolutely looking forward to this film, while expecting a disappointment at the same time. But the filmmakers got a lot of it right. They didn't change it to some dumb action flick, they didn't make it sentimental, they didn't include some stupid love story, they didn't add comic relief, they didn't choose only great looking kids and they didn't go for a happy ending. Also they largely kept the violence of Ender's self defence acts (though it should have been messier). Asa Butterfield (while of course much too old and tall) got Ender just right, with a restrained but nonetheless powerful performance. To portrait Ender is difficult because there's so much inner monologue in the book, luckily they didn't go for the easy way out with voice-over but relied on acting and atmosphere.

Praise has to go for the visualization of the battle room which is just perfect and the "simulations", including the final battle, where they stay away from Star Wars like space battles but go for a completely different look, maybe inspired by RTS games. That probably surprised me the most and it really keeps the visuals fresh because we haven't seen anything like it before on this scale. Of course they had to reduce the complexities of the book. Harrison Ford gives an uncompromising performance as Colonel Graff but his character is missing a lot of the ambiguity and subtlety, being much more a villain than a torn father figure (who loves his children and still sends them to war, being a master manipulator and always finding ways to justify his actions). They muddled up the timeline, tuned down on the gifted children aspect (which is a huge thing for OSC), sort of left out the Ansible, made some confusing choices when to reveal who's attacking whom and where and why, they didn't have the time to properly introduce and characterize the other children. A lot of time and development is missing in battle school, I'd have loved to see the progress of the battle room actions but again, they didn't go for the Hollywood standard montage ("the Rocky Routine") and I appreciate that. I wasn't happy with some casting choices: Peter and the short, weird looking Bonzo didn't fit and, please, Ben 'Any Nationality' Kingsley as Razor Rackham? He's often a great actor but if you need a Maori cast a Maori! Now for the ending (after the battle). Maybe the biggest change (again to simplify story telling) was to relocate the human's command base to a planet close the the Formic home world, so Ender just has to step out of the base to find the cocoon. But in the film it's not the baby queen in the cocoon that directly communicates with him but there's a (barely) living queen in the cave! Could have been awful, could have been Matrix 3 awful (remember giant talking face with ominous voice?), but no. It worked. Largely because there was no queen voice, neither physical nor in Ender's head and also not the easy way out by explaining everything in a telepathic 'vision' (which again could be expected from a Hollywood production) - and because the creature design was really well done, perfectly fitting the description of "beautiful yet terrible". So as a fan I would have wanted this to be 3 hours longer or a trilogy, but as it is, I'm really pleased with the result which is far better than could be expected, with some astonishing anti-mainstream choices. I have no idea how people who haven't read the book will view it, but all others should see it.

One last thing: Lots of professional reviewers talk about this film as being made for a teen audience - that's incredibly stupid. This is a film for a (mentally) mature audience of whatever age.
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5 things that would have made this movie better
djc123-612-31988817 January 2014
When I first heard this film was coming out, I decided to read the two books on which the movie was based (Enders Game & Enders Shadow). I really enjoyed the books and was confident that with a bit of thought they could make a decent screenplay that would be true to the story in the books as well as being entertaining to watch. Like many others, I was incredibly disappointed with the movie. Here are 5 things that would have improved it greatly:

1) Show the passage of time: Whilst I understand that it would be tricky to show the 5 years or so Ender is in battle school, having him writing an email saying 'we have been studying for months' doesn't really cut it. Everything moves so fast that you get the impression he has only been there a few weeks. This prevented something essential to most movies, character development.

2) Show Battle School as a school: Much of the book is about how the battle room games shape and define Enders character as a person and (eventually) a leader/commander. This is barely touched on the movie with the few battle room scenes being very disappointing and Ender becoming both an expert in the battle room and leader of an army within what seems like a week! Also, in the books there are a few hundred children at battle school, a lot more than the sparse 50 or so we see in the movie. Even classic Star Trek gave the impression of a large crew on the Enterprise by having extras walking in the corridors, how hard can it be to copy that?

3) Show that Ender is truly on his own: In the book, Ender doesn't have any friends as such, he has to earn respect by becoming the best in the battles, then people start to follow him. When Ender arrives, Graff says that Ender has to feel alone, but from then on he always has someone to help him or be his friend.

4) More Bean, less Petra: Petra is a great character in the books, because she is a bit of a b**ch! Yes, she helps Ender with shooting practise but she is fairly ambivalent towards him the rest of the time. Bean is the person who Ender eventually trusts the most, and even confides in. In the movie, far too much emphasis was put on Petra's relationship with Ender (she didn't even seem like the 'real' Petra to me) whereas Bean is just a face in the crowd.

5) Show Ender getting tired: Even if they failed in all the other areas, they could at least have made Ender look tired from all the battle games! His exhaustion is what drives him to 'quit', again this doesn't come across at all in the movie. How hard could it be to show that?

I could write more, but in summary this movie was an epic fail with very few redeeming qualities. The sad thing is, it could have been one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever, but instead they traded the 'soul' of the book for a few flashy effects and a lightweight story. Somewhere in the process the real Ender's Game got lost.
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Well made garbage
JoeB13114 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Technically this movie looks great, and even some of the performances weren't' that bad.

Of course, the problem was that it relied on Orson Card's dreadfully turgid prose for its main plot, and being that there are enough loyalists out there, they really couldn't deviate far from it.

So what you have is a movie that drags on for an hour and a half about the training, and all of 10 minutes about the war.

Making matters worse, of course, is that somehow they got Harrison Ford to phone in his line. EVery line he speaks in the movie is done with this flat affect like he doesn't even care about the movie he is in.

Thankfully, this movie flopped horribly and we won't be seeing any of Card's even more tedious sequels made into films.
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Engaging Science Fiction
JohnWelles30 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Ender's Game" (2013), directed by the South African Gavin Hood, is a military science fiction film based on Orson Scott Card's cult novel of the same name from 1985. It's a film that is more complex than it initially appears, the exposition-leaden opening thankfully not an indicator of what is to come, with Hood using cinematic techniques to tell the story rather than using any trite narrative clutches such as voice-over. Instead, the script (also written by Hood), introduces the figure of Ender, played by a marvellously cold Asa Butterfield, and his submergence into a future world of complex military strategy. The presence of many other child actors, even the Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin fail to make much impact. Yet this isn't a downside as much as it appears; Ender is supposed to be isolated and withdrawn, and it is appropriate for a film seen through his eyes that we scarcely get to known anything more than the broad strokes of personality from his compatriots in "Command School".

The older members of the cast though, disappointingly, don't register as much as they need to. Harrison Ford's Colonel Graff is rather one-note, only Ben Kinsley's unconventional character Mazer Rackham being memorable. The script fairly abandons them all to the sidelines and favours Ender above all else; thankfully, Butterfield is more than capable to meet that challenge, delivering an excellent child performance for a none too likable character. He's the film's strongest point.

The direction is good, even exhilarating in the scenes of stimulated zero gravity battle. The $110 million budget has been well used, credibly creating orbiting space stations and ships. The future imagined isn't so far from are our world, the suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience not so great. It follows the path of films as diverse as "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) and "Minority Report" (2002) that realised the future is made more plausible by having ties to the present.

Unfortunately, the ingenious twist ending, which probably works better on the page than it does on the screen, has, by necessity, almost to mould the movie in reverse leaving a curious sense of distance and lack of tension to the climax, while the epilogue goes into a bizarre realm which feels out of tone with the rest of the film.

The film is still an enjoyable science fiction movie, professional and well-made, but it suffers from the feeling it may have even been better had it been braver in adapting the source novel and not felt so obliged to try and translate aspects of it that don't work on the silver screen.
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