Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ender's Game (Friday Film Review)

Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:26 PM with 10 comments

Ender's Game

Writers: Gavin Hood (screenplay) Orson Scott Card (author)
Starring: , ,
DVD Release Date: February 11, 2014
Rated: PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.

Synopsis from IMDb:

The Earth was ravaged by the Formics, an alien race seemingly determined to destroy humanity. Seventy years later, the people of Earth remain banded together to prevent their own annihilation from this technologically superior alien species. Ender Wiggin, a quiet but brilliant boy, may become the savior of the human race. He is separated from his beloved sister and his terrifying brother and brought to battle school in orbit around earth. He will be tested and honed into an empathetic killer who begins to despise what he does as he learns to fight in hopes of saving Earth and his family.  


Confession time: I've read Ender's Game, but it has been, like, at least 15 years. I did debate rereading this before watching the movie as I do remember enjoying the book, but couldn't really remember it, but I just frankly couldn't find the time to do so. So while familiar with the story, this review is really going to be about the movie straight instead of a comparison between the book and movie. Although, I will reflect on that a bit as my husband recently read the book and had some serious gripes when the credit's rolled.

Ender's Game is a futuristic story in which Earth is preparing itself for what they believe is an imminent alien attack. Decades earlier, an alien race attacked Earth. Humans were victorious and have been planning their own offensive/defensive strategies ever since. The population is controlled and children are to go through military-type training until it is decided that they should or should not be a part of an elite team of fighters that are recruited and sent into space to the elite Battle School. These children will be the ones to fight the war.

Ender Wiggin is an extremely special child. A rare 3rd (his parents were given permission to have a third child as their previous son and daughter both showed almost perfect genetics), Ender's mind is gifted in military strategy. For example, very early in the movie he gets in a fight with a much larger boy and continues to beat him even after he is down in order to "win all future fights, as well". He is chosen to go to Battle School where he is singled out as special which both repels and attracts his fellow classmates. Which is exactly what Colonel Graff (Ford) wants. Like so many films of this ilk, Ender's Game is all about finding "the one" who can save all of mankind. Ender, of course, shows a brilliant strategic mind and finds ways to divert some of the positive attention on his classmates, too, which is a sure sign of a leader.

I found the movie to be pretty much exactly what I was expecting: a forgettable, but entertaining action film. The visual quality of the film is pretty stunning, especially the shots taken in the "Battle Room" where teams practice fight in zero gravity, as well as the shots of the distant alien planet. The acting was also well done. Asa Butterfield who played Ender was especially good in his role. He has very expressive eyes and I really empathized with this child who is so smart, but isolated and just wants to belong. It's hard not to feel bad for a child who is being trained to be a killer. He also has a sharp edge to him that lets us see that those in charge might have chosen correctly. Harrison Ford was fine as the gruff colonel, but he was just "playing" Harrison Ford. I would love to see him branch out into something like Regarding Henry again. Haliee Steinfeld was great as a girl who befriends Ender at Battle School. I really like this young actress and am excited for what the future holds for her. 


For those wanting to know how the movie stacks up to the film I can tell you that my husband was not at all pleased. He said the film really sacrificed a lot of the story in the film. His two biggest complaints was the lack of the "scoreboard" that keeps track of how students are doing at Battle School which plays a large part in the book, and the almost complete lack of back story regarding Ender and his beloved sister. To his credit, I do remember there being a lot more about his relationship with his siblings--both the positive one with his sister and the extremely negative one with his brother. We get a glimpse of it in the very beginning, but those relationships really aren't explored all that much even though Ender writes to his sister and she makes a couple of brief appearances.

Overall, I thought Ender's Game was an alright film. I didn't love it, but I did find it entertaining and visually pretty stunning. The younger actors made the film for me--way more than the veteran actors lead by Ford. If you are looking for a popcorn film to watch this weekend you could do worse. 


  1. I'm dying to see this! I really think Asa Butterfield was a FANTASTIC pick. Hehe...and I haven't even seen it yet. I'm pretty keen to see Indiana, I mean, Harrison Ford playing the grumpy guy too. BUT I'm sad there's no Valentine. I guess it makes sense to cut that out for clarity's sake (I can only imagine how hard it would have been to incorporate Valentine/Peter's political efforts into the movie) but still. Very excited to see it myself soon. :)

    1. Asa really was perfect as Ender. He really makes the movie. Ford was fine--but just EXACTLY what you would expect (which is good or bad depending on you pov. I just thought it was kind of boring). Valentine is there a little, but, yeah there is no political efforts at all. I hope you love it once you get your hands on it. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I haven't read the book yet, but I bought it! I just wanted to stop by and tell you what I thought:

    I thought it was weird. Honestly? It was so freaking weird. Asa was a great actor, I think, but it was just weird. Ender was a weird, practical kid, and I'm assuming that's how he was in the book? I'll read it eventually! Although I have to admit the movie wasn't much of a motivation since I didn't LOVE it. I honestly thought the movie was just strange. The idea was great though, having kids train and test in school for being a commander.

    And I liked the ending, how it was a "fake out" of sorts.

    I feel like this is a useless comment, so I'll end it here. :3

    Tori @ YA Book Queens

    1. Tori, lol. It was kind of a weird film, but the book is kind of weird, too. Like I said, it's been over a decade since I read it, but I remember enjoying it and know that I read it in one sitting. I hope you do enjoy it if you pick it up...but it is always hard to do movie first, especially if you didn't necessarily enjoy the film. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I agree for sure about the great visuals and acting in the film. The film definitely feels rushed and underdeveloped compared to the book, and especially in the relationships department. Overall I was fairly pleased with it, but if the same team could have worked to make this into a trilogy of films, I think then it would have been really great.

    1. A trilogy focused on just this one book, or a combination of the series? I never read past Ender's Game, but I do remember enjoying it. The visuals were stunning, but, like I said, my husband was especially disappointed in how they handled the relationship between Ender and Valentine. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I haven't read Ender's Game. And I had a copy but I gave it away because, well, because I don't think this is my thing, which is weird. My older sis is a big fan of the book and was looking forward to the movie, as well, but I don't even know if she's seen it. Which leads me to believe that if she has, she thought it was a letdown, too. I'll probably watch it when it makes it to cable, though. ;)

    1. It's certainly worth watching once it gets to TV. It's visually stunning and the younger actors are all really good. It's so hard to please readers, isn't it? I think we all latch on to certain aspects of books and movies simply can't put everything that is in a 400 page novel into a 2 hour movie. I wonder if she did enjoy it if she's seen it? Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I never read the book, but I did see the movie and, to be honest, I just didn't get it. A lot of it just didn't make sense to me and it was sort of...meh. This is probably one of those that you probably get more out of it if you've read the book. Glad you enjoyed it! ~Pam

    1. I definitely think it's one that almost relies on the audience being familiar with the source material. I can definitely see how it might be confusing if you weren't. Thankfully, I remembered parts, and my hubby read it so recently that he commented throughout--which was fine since we were at home. Thanks for stopping by!


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