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Ender's Game More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Exploring the nature of the pre-emptive strike

Author: david-sarkies from Australia
11 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie based on a best selling book by Orson Scott Card, and it is interesting that when this particular author is mentioned there is always an outcry against his position on homosexuality. While I am tolerant of homosexuality and will tend not to make statements as controversial as Card may have done, I do feel that the same tolerance that I am showing to the LGBT community is the same form of tolerance that is shown towards Card. In fact it sounds as if the producers of this movie deliberately kept Card away from its production due to a potential backlash from certain groups who are threatened by his views, and this is a man who is a self proclaimed Democrat, communitarian (I note that he does not use the term communist, but his description makes it sound like a less Stalinist version). While I may not agree with his Mormon beliefs, I do not find him anywhere near as objectionable as some people claim him to be (and I assure you that there are worse people out there than Card).

As for the movie, I thought it was brilliant. Earth has been attacked by a race of aliens known as the Formic, and by a bit of luck, were beaten off. However, the people of Earth have decided that they need to act to prevent another such tragedy, and begin a rigorous training program to find a general that will lead them to victory against the Formic and they do this by recruiting children and testing them through the use of games which become progressively harder, and more realistic.

The movie follows the life of a boy named Ender, and the military minds who are watching his progress. It is clear that Ender has an exceptional tactical mind, but it is also clear that he is not a warrior and does not have the mentality of a warrior, which makes it difficult for the military to use him to meet their objectives – which is why they end up disguising the operations as games and military exercises, and why they also work exceptionally hard to hide the truth about his actions from him.

The key to this is the idea where at the beginning of the movie he knocks down a bully, and then proceeds to continue to kick him not to exact vengeance or uncontrolled anger on him, but to prevent him from getting up again. This is an aspect of violence that many people do not understand. When you win a fight, you do not necessarily defeat your opponent, but rather you end up angering your opponent who then looks for the opportunity to seek revenge against you. It is an endless cycle that ends up going nowhere.

However, despite the attitude of Ender in that he only fights to defend himself, it is clear that the Earth military are seeking vengeance. In the final battle Ender notices that the enemy are not attacking, and they only attack when he makes the first move. There are a number of instances in the film where he makes the first move in a simulated battle, however it is clear that this is simulated and the first movie needs to be made. However, in the real battle (which is disguised as a game) this is not the case, however because he believes that it is a simulation he believes that this is a case where the first move needs to be made.

This is a film which is about battle and about military tactics, however it also questions the need for a pre-emptive strike. While Ender does make some strikes in this film, it is clear that it is in a battle situation, however there is a different situation where, as is clear in the final scene, or at least revealed in the final scene, that this is not a battle in a war, but it is a final strike against an enemy who has already fallen and is not willing to get up again. This is why Ender is so sickened at the outcome at the end because he is not kicking him to prevent him from getting up again, but taking out vengeance against an opponent that has already been defeated.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Visually stunning with great story to tell

Author: tinovalkki from Finland
5 December 2013

Ender's Game is smart sci-fi movie. Little bit like Starship Trooopers or Blade Runner. Beneath a beautiful skin there is a strong social criticism story. You may notice it or you may watch the whole movie as a beautiful sci-fi story. You may see the story as a criticism against USA:s policy to defend itself with prevention strike against anyone if they think to be threatened. In the movie almost fascist like society has tame their youth to make prevention strike without any criticism. They defend strikes justification for their youth just because enemy will strike if they don't strike first. Young Ender's dares to rise against authority and mistrusts that. Ender's Game has a great story to tell, but it is also beautiful to watch. It feels like 3D movie despite it is not. Space landscapes and -fights are gorgeous. It is always a risk to put a child to a leading role at a movie, but Asa Butterfield is a great choice for Ender's role. There is enough of sensitivity, yet enough character in his role. Harrison Ford is great as a General Graff. It is hard to believe that he is over 70 years old. Only thing which bother here is that movie feels to end too soon. It feels like it is a big budget Television show pilot movie. We will see if Ender's Game gets enough audience for a sequel. That really is needed. The great story may just to be a little too clever to its target audience. Visually stunning movie, which is have to watch from a big screen.

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22 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

No adults allowed. A future teen space academy reality show put me to sleep.

Author: demetriocoffman from United States
9 November 2013

I expected allot more from this flick but was left with the understanding that its truly meant for kids to watch not adults. I went with my 22 year old son who enjoyed it. He liked the maturing of Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) and how he grew from shy student to a leader in the academy. But I guess if watching a bunch of teens studying, playing, fighting and working at a futuristic space academy is cool, then enjoy yourself. Harrison Ford is like the Star Wars leftover guardian of the teens and the token "old person" in the movie. I did recognize Ender's sister Valentine who was played by Abigail Breslin from her role as the young girl in Little Miss Sunshine. Other big named stars are Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis and they just hung out with Ford.

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28 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Sadly Lacking in Acting, Action and Overall Content

Author: nammerama2 from United States
2 November 2013

I tried going into this movie without high expectations because I knew this would be a hard book to convert to movie format. Unfortunately this movie fell way below my expectations, dashed my hopes, and was much worse than I feared it would be. Though I tried not to compare the movie to the book, this movie falls so far short of the book that I am surprised that O.S. Card allowed this movie to carry the same title at all. The most exciting parts of the book are completely missing as well as some of the most important character building elements of what made Ender who he was as a person and as a genius commander. Aside from the poor acting, there are also far too few battle room scenes to even make sense of what is going on there. For example, you can see dragon army rising in the standings somehow, no training scenes of the army, and only one or two battles with dragon army. There was not even a "skimming over" scene that could have helped explain why anyone would put the fate of mankind on this boys shoulders. Far too few battles in command school as well. Too much information was omitted to make this movie worth watching. This book should have been split into 2-3 movies to have done it right. I so badly wanted to write a good review for this movie that I gave it 2 stars instead of the 1 that it really deserves. Too, bad. Take my advise: If you saw the previews and enjoyed them, then try to be satisfied with those and move on with your life. Watching the film is not worth the added disappointment you will feel as you walk away from this movie with a much lighter wallet. :(

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33 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Don't go in expecting typical young-adult fare. "Ender's Game" is an engaging and visually entertaining adaption of a classic sci-fi novel

Author: moviexclusive from Singapore
30 October 2013

With a rumoured US$100 million production budget, "Ender's Game" could be written off as one of the latest in a growing line of high-budget young adult flicks, which its co-producing company Summit Entertainment probably hopes it will be. A more interesting fact is that it's also one of the first films whereby one of the other co-producers is James Cameron's special-effects firm Digital Domain, responsible for creating most of the futuristic sets and backdrops. But visual effects, even in a sci-fi movie, can only go so far in capturing audiences. The source material's acclaim far exceeds that of recent YA successes like "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games": Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel won both the prestigious Nebula Award and the Hugo Award in 1985 and 1986 respectively, and is also recommended reading for the US Marine Corps.

Attempting to give sufficient credit to such a classic novel is director and writer Gavin Hood, best remembered for the unimpressive "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", which received a lukewarm response from critics and audiences alike. This time though, the pieces look to be in place for a box office success. Beyond the lauded source material, he's also got a stellar cast, led by 16-year-old Asa Butterfield, who effectively wields his expressive, bright blue eyes to convey a contradictory mix of childlike vulnerability and a preternatural ruthlessness. These are useful tools for portraying Ender Wiggin, a brilliant boy-genius recruited by the military in a world that is still recovering from the aftermath of an attack by insect-like aliens. The government is somehow convinced that training children barely on the cusp of adolescence in the ways of war will ensure future victory. Employing a combination of relentless physical training, psychological manipulation and social isolation in Battle School, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis) are looking to sieve out a suitable leader.

Ender appears to have the ideal traits, a result of both nature and nurture. On the one hand his intellect and tactical instinct are innate gifts. On the other, a troubled family background consisting of ambivalent parents, a psychotic older brother and a compassionate sister creates a detached demeanour and an understanding that mercy must be shelved in exchange for a thorough victory. Graff, convinced that Ender is 'The One', pulls no stops in his training and quickly puts him in command of his own platoon.

The inter-team battles resemble laser tag in a spherical zero-gravity court, lit in blue neon and dotted with blocks. Ender establishes himself as a leader worth his salt; crushing enemies along the way and swallowing the resultant guilt until an ill-fated showdown with a belligerent team leader Bonzo (Moises Arias) one day throws him off- course. Questioning whether the toll on his psyche is worth all this training to ultimately become a killer, Ender quits, only to change his mind after a rather brief talk with the one person he loves most in the world, his sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin). He moves on to advanced training in Command School under revered war veteran Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). The script takes on a more existential tone after this point, leading up to the climactic final "game" where the theme of morality / oppression in war takes centre-stage.

The pacing may be slightly uneven but the film moves fast enough to retain your attention throughout. Visually, most scenes are filtered with bright electric blue lights and warm amber hues set against black space, which feels familiar and reminiscent of "Tron: Legacy" – both films share the same production designers, Sean Haworth and Ben Procter. Coming on the heels of Alfonso Cuarón's astoundingly beautiful "Gravity" doesn't do "Ender's Game" any favours. That's not to say that it isn't aesthetically impressive on its own; the glossy and clinical sets are believably futuristic and highly pleasing to the eye.

Acting-wise, Ford leverages on his grandfatherly gravitas in portraying a man who is convinced that the end he has in mind will justify any means. Alongside him, Butterfield ably holds his own, following his adorable turn in "Hugo" with another praiseworthy performance and creating a tense dynamic with Ford that hits the boiling point in the concluding scenes. Abigail Breslin, unfortunately, is underused. Movie adaptations of books invariably result in the loss of certain elements: While Ender's siblings are keenly-developed and complex characters in the novel, the lack of screen time and development in the movie render them as mere placeholders.

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38 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

The future looks bleak...

Author: flyermay
9 November 2013

Even if we disregard the fact that every year Hollywood hides its lack of new talents with more and more cash in CGI; this movie is still way off the scale!!!

Combine a completely infantile plot, with almost Bollywood acting (of which not even Ford or Kingsley are saved), over-exaggerated characters, a poor and repetitive soundtrack, and a total unconvincing script out of pace, and you get "Ender's Game".

I would had given this movie a "0", as did the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News, but the lowest available is a "1". So I'm puzzled about how it has a rating of 7.2; that's almost a full point more than "Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace". Either the standards are declining with the trade, or these people have a lot of family and friends.

This movie should have been released directly for rental in the "family" section.

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44 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Waste of money

Author: sheilawindham
3 November 2013

"Enders Game" is my all time favorite book, but this movie should never have been made and is a waste of money. Lots of movies have to be changed a bit because there is just too much to fit in one movie, but they didn't just change a little bit. I ended up leaving before the end of the movie because It was so bad. In the book, you cared about Ender and all that was done to him, but in the movie, there was no reason to feel anything for him. They took several years of battle school and condensed it to just a couple of days, changed things that didn't need to be changed. If you didn't read the book, it would make absolutely no sense and if you did read it, it would just make you angry that they would butcher it so bad. The actors were good choices and they did a good job, but the story just sucked big time.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Ender Effect

Author: Wm. Maher from Windsor ON
1 February 2014

It's hard to understand the bitter disappointment of readers who stand guard for the book series by completely trashing this excellent movie. I've watched it 3 times without the book to refer to and can't find anything wanting; not the excellent cast, direction, production design, or compelling story. It stands alongside Pacific Rim and Oblivion as one of the trio of overshadowed summer sci-fi films whose unexpected pleasures will make them favorites to the people who give them a chance on DVD. From the fan outcry I take it Ender's Game fails to deliver whatever fans found in the books and has been watered down on its way to the screen. We all know than adapting a book to a movie is a matter of translating one form to another in the same way that raw wheat needs to be processed if it is to become a cake. Different forms have different requirements and, taken on its own terms, Ender's Game is an excellent film which will have special meaning to young people who can identify with Ender's struggles, hardships, the isolation of school, the expectations of others, bullying, gaming and his own violent temper. Interestingly, other books which were changed in order to be filmed include Blade Runner, 2001:, The Hunger Games, all Harry Potter books, all Shakespeare's works, The Lord Of The Rings books, the James Bond series, Dune, 2000 Leagues Under The Sea, Pinocchio, The Wizard Of Oz, The DaVinci Code and thousands more - many of them became classics just as I predict Ender's Game The Movie will. Go figure.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Wow, how did this get approved?

Author: joshua kit from United States
21 January 2014

I have very low expectations, but "Enders Game" surprised even me with its very low production value, lack of ambition, and cheesy wooden dialogue.

I've seen reviews which give this movie nominal points based on the special effects and set designs. But to be honest, even those are very lackluster.

This appears to be a cut rate shoot-em-up which calls itself Ender's Game as a gimmick. Another gimmick was the casting of Harrison Ford, who brings nothing to his role as senior military commander.

There is no musical theme, just the ubiquitous constant thumping which is all too common nowadays, and presumably cheaper to produce.

I didn't see any blatant product placement, but I wasn't looking out for it. That's probably the most surprising thing about this movie.

Bad film, even for what passes as movies nowadays.

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21 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Boring and unengagig

Author: zsiga09 from United States
15 November 2013

I was hoping for another Matrix.

Instead the movie was boring, very predictable and was a huge disappointment. Not sure why anyone would find it 'intelligent' it's actually pretty simple storyline and it won't 'make you think' at all.

The acting was pretty weak too, Ender was actually rather annoying. Funny how some reviewers found the movie too short, I was contemplating to leave after an hour. At the end they set it up for a sequel (as usual these days of course) but I will not fall again.

Target audience is 10-14 teenage boys, if you're out of this bracket save your time and money and do something else.

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