In order to find the next battle commander to lead Earth’s forces against the alien Formics, the International Fleet recruits promising children into Battle School. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), their most hopeful student yet, must go through grueling challenges to prove he has what it takes to lead the fleet to victory.
I only recently read Ender’s Game, written by Orson Scott Card. Some of my friends told me it was a fun read, and with the movie coming out, I decided now was as good a time as any to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so I was excited to see Ender’s world unfold on the big screen. Ender’s Game hits all the major story beats of the book, but lacks the characterization that made it so enjoyable.
Going into the differences between the book and the movie is going into spoiler territory and is a whole other article itself. But if that’s what you are interested in, here is an article from Cinema Blend explaining some of the major differences. What is good to know, though, is the movie does feature all the important scenes from the book.
One of the first things I noticed was how gorgeous the special effects looked. Visually, Ender’s Game stunning, I could actually imagine being in battle school right next to Ender, or in the cockpit with Mazer Rackham when he’s fighting the Formics. Definitely on of the best looking films this fall.
For a cast consisting of mainly inexperienced actors, the acting was pretty good. Asa Butterfield embodied the character of Ender perfectly. Moises Arias was intimidating as Bonzo and Hailee Steinfeld easily makes you feel Petra’s sympathy. The other children, such as Abigail Breslin as Valentine, Suraj Parthasarathy as Alai, and Aramis Knight as Bean, didn’t get much time on screen but they did well with what time they did have.
If the idea of children violence does not sit well with you, this may not be a movie for you. Although it is nothing compared to The Hunger Games, there are several fight scenes between Ender and some others, and characters are fairly aggressive towards him, too. Just something to keep in mind.
Throughout the entire movie, the story felt really rushed. The story quickly moves from Ender on Earth, to Battle school, then to his final training. Outside of Ender, and maybe Petra, not much time is spent focused on the characters. We don’t learn much about them. Characters such as Graff kept saying how much of a tactical genius Ender is, but it felt like we didn’t see it too much. I know I’ve complained about movies running too long, but if there is extra time spent on characterization, that time is worth it. Ender’s Game runs just under two hours. It would have benefited greatly by even having a few extra scenes to delve into Ender’s, and his friends’, state of mind.
As I said before, all the major story beats are touched, but that also means that everything else was either compressed or missing. Some of my favorite parts from the book were Ender in Battle School, learning about tactics, training his team, and forging bonds with Bean and the rest. Instead, the story was put on the back burner to give more focus on the visuals. As beautiful as the movie was, a lot was sacrificed in terms of story. It does, however, manage to keep the core of the story intact. Which I guess is a plus considering many film adaptations get a complete overhaul compared to their source material.
Ender’s Game is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book. Much of the characterization was removed to move the story along, but the core story remains intact. The children gave excellent performances and the visuals were stunning. Fans of the Card’s book should definitely watch this film, but even if you haven’t read it, Ender’s Game is still worth checking out.