Ender’s Game is a fantastic book. It is expertly crafted with words that create people and images so vivid in your mind they stick with you for a long while. Unfortunately, the movie was nowhere near as vivid or in-depth as the book and it left a lot to be desired.

Ender’s Game
Directed By: Gavin Hood
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Moses Arias

Premise: After an attack by an alien race called the Formics, Earth is saved from total annihilation by a single man, Razer Mackham’s forward thinking. In anticipation of another attack, the government bred intelligent children picking a lucky few to be trained as soldiers. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant strategist, but isolated kid is pulled off of Earth to put into Battle School in space to begin his training to defeat the aliens. His different way of approaching conflict and his ability to lead convinces Hyrum Graff, a highly esteemed Colonel leading the program that he is the world’s only hope in defeating the aliens for good.

 

My Review: Ender’s Game had a lot going for it: a great cast, kids that were actually kids (even if they were older than they were supposed to be), incredible visual effects, and it was based on a fantastic book with an intriguing plot. Unfortunately it fell short when it tried to be like every other YA book/movie out there instead of a clever sci-fi film. It was too short, glossed over important plot points, didn’t develop its characters, and it focused too much on a potential love interest that had nothing to do with the theme or the point of the story (It doesn’t exist in the book). I understand TPTB think they know what sells tickets, but the movie did a great disservice to fans of the books and probably just confused everyone else.

One big thing I wish was different was Ender. In the book he’s an opinionated, troubled, intelligent kid who is timid but also a fighter because of his violent brother, compassionate because of his loving sister, and intelligent in a different way because of how he was raised. When Ender goes to battle school, Graff intentionally puts pressure on him by isolating him. Ender is torn with being a good warrior that was chosen to lead the world and fighting authority when his curiously and own morals get the best of him. Thus Ender is left with the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Ender needs to be a leader and a fighter even if he is a boy, and training him to be a warrior comes at a great cost. Unfortunately movie version of Ender comes off as bland and vanilla. There was nothing really memorable or remarkable about Asa Butterfield’s performance, that is, until the end when Ender shows the spark that was missing him throughout the movie. I wish Ender interacted with his fellow school mates more giving us a chance to know them better and develop their very important characters; instead the movie relied too heavily on its higher caliber actors, Harrison Ford and Viola Davis.

The movie was entertaining and exciting in certain parts, but suffered from moving from point to point too fast. The movie should have been at least a half hour longer (It was a brisk 1hr 54 minutes, but felt quicker) or been interpreted into a 3 part HBO mini-series. Just read the book.

Rating: 3 Stars

 

 

Random Thoughts While Watching The Movie

 

**Beware of Spoilers**

 

There was something Viola Davis (Gwen Anderson) said in the film that really hit me. About how the kids are sent into battle no matter the cost to that kid and in the end she is left to clean up what is left of them. That statement really made me think that what they are prepare the kids to do is similar to how we prepare our kids (Yes, 18 is still considered a kid) for a battle no matter the cost and in the end these kids are sent home with their families to take care of what is left. I never thought about that book that way before. (Yes, I know, The Hunger Games has similar themes.)

There is not enough of Abigail Breslin, or Ender’s backstory with his family.

Moises Arias aka that kid from Hannah Montana, plays a good psycho, he’s just so distractingly short, especially when he’s supposed to be intimidating to the waaaayyy taller Ender. (Moises is 5’1, Asa is 5’10).

 

 

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