Ender's Game (2013) Poster

(2013)

User Reviews

Review this title
600 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
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.
175 out of 265 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Fails Spectacularly as a Movie
darmstead011 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
334 out of 530 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
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.
232 out of 364 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
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.
301 out of 491 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
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...
123 out of 199 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
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.
244 out of 409 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
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
80 out of 127 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Absolutely Terrible
keremgogus21 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.
82 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Brainless
adrian-davis-864-35722230 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 ?
57 out of 90 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
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.
s_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.
47 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
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.
193 out of 339 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
A rushed sound-bite movie - a disappointment
b103875227 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.
235 out of 423 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Needed to be longer
edtholl31 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.
58 out of 96 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
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.
83 out of 142 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
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.
46 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
time waste 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)
37 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
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.
128 out of 227 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
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.
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
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.
79 out of 141 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Depends on the viewer
f_all_spammers9 November 2013
If you haven't read the book they did an excellent job with the special effects and graphics. Things very much reflect the current American viewpoint on military behavior and the representative mix of races and gender at the battle school.

If you like the book, the mutation of fundamental points of the story makes this movie a complete waste of time. It has been warped into basically an action movie with only a shell of meaning. After loving the book for so many years I found myself repeatedly saying outloud, "WTF!".

!Spoilers! I have no idea why they moved the entire formic invasion into the atmosphere instead of leaving it spread throughout the solar system. I have no idea why Dap got changed into a drill sergeant instead of being a substitute mother figure. I have no idea why they wussied out on Bonzo's death scene. I have no idea why Bernard lost his french accent and his broken arm and became a supporter of Ender. I have no idea why they allowed Ender to contact Valentine while in school. I have no idea why they erased the colonization movement after the war and had Ender find the cocoon in walking distance of the military base. I have no idea why a key part of general training in the book, the mind game, became something specifically authorized for Ender instead of everyone. I don't know why in the giant's drink game they made all the drinks look the same instead of having the variety described in the book. At least they didn't have Ender getting romantic.
120 out of 226 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Ender's Game review
Al_The_Strange4 November 2013
It seems as though all the great sci-fi takes forever to become films. It took over seventy years to give John Carter his big-screen debut. I had a copy of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth that claimed that it would become a motion picture soon, but that never happened until almost twenty years later (and many would probably argue that it should not have been made). Ender's Game is another one of the best sci-fi novels I've read, and a film for it has been in development for something like ten years. So, in 2013, I couldn't have been more excited.

Ender's Game is kinda like The Hunger Games set in outer space, only more aggressive, more fantastic, and more original. EG has its fair share of special-effects-laden spectacle, with massive swarms of spaceships and incredible planetscapes filling up the screen. Fortunately, it's not all just action for the sake of action, it is all a direct consequence of the story. When the space battles aren't breaking out, the film still moves very fast with loads of character-driven conflicts.

The film still maintains most of its focus on telling the story, and it does hit up all the necessary plot points that were in the original novel. Some major subplots get cut out, the training/battle scenes are truncated, and various other liberties are taken, but for a two-hour movie, the filmmakers did their best to cover the entire plot, right up to its bizarre ending. A lot of scenes are exactly as I pictured them from reading the book (even the fantasy CGI mindgame scenes, which I always fancied should be animated Pixar style, and it turns out they were!), and the dark aggression of the book is mostly translated well into the film. Best of all, the book's biggest twists still bear some decent weight in the movie's narrative.

Unfortunately, some things are lost in translation. Just as it is with The Hunger Games, the specific nuances of the characters, their relationships, their emotions, and their overall pathos is better conveyed in the narrative of the book than it is on film. Ender's relationships with his friends (and even his enemies) are left at the surface level, and never really reaches the same depths as the novel. Some things remain unexplained or glossed over. Deeper themes are never fully explored. Although one can't expect every single thing in the book to make it into the film, EG falls just a little short in immersing the audience in the characters. It may be easy to root for Ender when he stands up to his bullies and commands a whole fleet, but the film won't leave that much of a lasting impression.

As a film, it looks pretty slick and stylish, with solid photography and editing. Acting can be rather mixed: I think all of the child actors did their jobs really well. Harrison Ford gets the most grief for his role, for he pretty much phones it in, but I still didn't think he was as terrible as other reviewers make him out to be. Ben Kingsley plays it kinda creepily in his role, and Viola Davis is pretty much herself. Writing in this film is okay, but has a rather bad penchant for exposition. This production has some good-looking sets, props, costumes, and special effects. The music score is not bad either.

As usual, the book is better than the movie, but I think the movie still does a good job as an adaptation. I expect that average audiences unfamiliar with the book will think this movie is okay, but might miss out on certain nuances. Book fans might gripe that the film doesn't do justice to certain things. In any case, I think the movie is worth a rent to all dedicated sci-fi fans.

4/5 (Entertainment: Very Good | Story: Good | Film: Pretty Good)
57 out of 102 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
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.
18 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
The Game is Over
droog57-704-7951712 November 2013
I saw Ender's Game yesterday, and if you have not seen it yet, don't bother. If you know the books, you will hate it, it's the worst movie adaptation of a novel since "Sum Of All Fears" and almost (but not quite) as bad as the "Dune" movie.

If you don't know the books, then you won't know what is going on.

Worst case scenario. First, they decided that it would be good if this movie could be more like the Hunger Games or Twilight series, making it into a 50% chick flick, which the original story is definitely NOT.

Lots of touchy feely hand wringing going on, particularly at the end, but without almost the entire story line regarding Ender's background or the reasoning and history behind drafting Children into the service, it all comes off as some lame plot line. And Peter has only 1 min of screen time, completely killing off that sub-plot and all of it's implications for the main story.

The heavy lifting for the plot is done by narrative, Ender's letters to Valentine, which, while it gets some badly needed explanations across, is a totally weak story telling tool, and very much a cop-out.

The Mind Game is also weakly handled, with only a few words of explanation regarding the Formic's influence on Ender through it.

At least the special effects were up to current standards, no complaints there, but making this amazing story material into something not much better than Battleship or Pacific Rim, is not something that I would be proud of as a Director.

They took a 700 page novel, made a 1hr 45min movie out of it somehow. They were forced to condense the first 600 pages into 3 or 4 spoken sentences of dialog between characters so that major (essential) plot points are at least mentioned (not that they help much). Then they take the last couple of chapters and go into more depth on that material, but by then, you don't care anymore. And if you have not read the book, at that point it will feel like some standard forgettable action flick. They go even further into the abyss by using material from the second novel to blatantly set up a sequel. It all feels so shabby and such a waste.

I originally had high hopes for this one, Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley usually don't get involved in much crap, but they must have needed money or something because this one is crap. This will effectively kill Ender's Game for the rest of time, nobody has ever made a second version of a movie from a novel, which is what this would take to make things right. We can only hope that 75% of the movie was cut out in editing, and may be released as a Director's Cut or Extended Edition, but failing major changes in future release versions, the Game is Over.

Very sad. Great Book(s)
152 out of 303 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
I hated it with a passion.
morganhornung3 November 2013
I have never sought out to write a review on a movie but I had to for this one. It was horrible. The 2 hour movie should have been made into 3 2 hour movies. Almost nothing was accurate to the book and what they did change wasn't even worth changing, it didn't make the movie better it just sped it up even more. There is NO character development and not one part of the movie made me go "wow! That was well done!" not a single part. There were so many flaws within the movie that just made it seem not planned out and very immaturely made. I'm immensely disappointed. You can't take something that was meant to span over multiple years and squish it into less than a year. It doesn't work. I'll quit now before I get even more livid.
105 out of 205 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
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
moviexclusive30 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.
45 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed