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Ender's Game
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404 out of 626 people found the following review useful:

At last - a film that is too short!

9/10
Author: basilisksamuk (sam.salt@gmail.com) from United Kingdom
26 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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377 out of 579 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

8/10
Author: Tom Orrow from United Kingdom
25 October 2013

*** This review may contain 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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298 out of 469 people found the following review useful:

Fails Spectacularly as a Movie

3/10
Author: Donald Armstead from Louisville, KY
1 November 2013

*** This review may contain 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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279 out of 453 people found the following review useful:

An exciting adaptation true to the story

8/10
Author: DannyDawg from United States
30 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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215 out of 336 people found the following review useful:

Loved the book, Severely disappointed with movie

3/10
Author: drhanusey from Philly
1 November 2013

*** This review may contain 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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225 out of 375 people found the following review useful:

I enjoyed it

8/10
Author: simonpcpearson from essex
30 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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146 out of 227 people found the following review useful:

Very enjoyable movie that doesn't do justice to the book

8/10
Author: clark44 from United States
1 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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223 out of 397 people found the following review useful:

A rushed sound-bite movie - a disappointment

5/10
Author: Peter Wills from United Kingdom
27 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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168 out of 292 people found the following review useful:

It was so awful

1/10
Author: ariaxua from United States
3 November 2013

*** This review may contain 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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108 out of 174 people found the following review useful:

From a die hard fan to a disappointed one

3/10
Author: naduenas from TX
31 October 2013

*** This review may contain 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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