Movie Review: Ender’s Game

Rating: 4 Stars

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action, and thematic material

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Synopsis (from IMDB): Young Ender Wiggin is recruited by the International Military to lead the fight against the Formics, a genocidal alien race which nearly annihilated the human race in a previous invasion.

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin

Trailer:

I had wanted to read the entire book before I went to see the movie. Unfortunately, I only made it halfway through before I ran out of time. I still plan on finishing the book, as I’m enjoying it immensely. From what I read, the movie seemed to do a pretty good job as an adaptation, although I agree with some other reviews that it lacked some of the heart of the book.

Ender’s Game is extremely visually entertaining. There’s plenty of cool sci-fi action. The music supports the epic scale the movie is going for, and there are lots of great CGI space battle shots. I was not disappointed at all in the action and visuals of the movie.

The acting is excellent as well. Looking at the cast I would be astonished if it wasn’t great. I’ve always liked Asa Butterfield; he’s got loads of talent for being so young. He’s an interesting actor to watch. He’s very understated for a lot of the movie, but when an emotional moment comes up, it’s like he just erupts with all this emotion, holding his own against veterans like Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley. All of the young actors in the movie were excellent; Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin are naturals in front of the camera, and have Oscar nominations under their belts already. And of course, all the adults are played by AMAZING actors (Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley). The cast is bursting with A-listers who are supported by a group of younger unknowns who do well as Ender’s officers.

Unfortunately, adapting a book (and an excellent one at that) to a movie is difficult work. Because you have such a short period of time to tell a rather complex story, you miss out on a lot of the emotional impact. Similar to how I felt about the Hunger Games movie (which I enjoyed quite a lot, don’t get me wrong), Ender’s Game loses a lot of the pain that pushes Ender to his victory (or defeat, depending on your perspective). Now, that made the movie more pleasant to watch, so in some ways it’s a win. But I think you lose some of the impact as well. They sort of blur over his isolation at the beginning and the rough start he has at Battle School. He becomes commander of Dragon Army extremely quickly, although I don’t know how else it could have been done.

There were a few moments where it felt like the screenplay was trying to catch everyone who hadn’t read the book up on what was happening. There would be times when an entire section of the book was summed up in one sentence spoken by someone who wasn’t even really involved in the situation in the book. So that was a little weird, but not enough to really bother me.

Obviously I had a few qualms dealing with the adaptation and the screenplay, but overall, Ender’s Game was extremely entertaining, with excellent acting and awesome sci-fi action sequences. Highly recommended to fans of the genre.

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