Ender’s Game – film review

Theatrical poster for "Ender's Game".
Theatrical poster for “Ender’s Game”.
We fans of the Ender’s Game novel and short story have been waiting for a long time for this movie. The biggest worry was whether the script, acting, and direction would be able to effectively translate this beloved story to the silver screen. For the most part, I was not disappointed.

Fifty years earlier, the Earth was attacked by the Formics, alien bug-like creatures which killed tens of millions of people worldwide. The world community came together and formed the International Fleet and tasked them with Earth’s defense. Children were then tested to see who might be best for the training program to create future military leaders. Ender is one of those children.

After Ender (played by Asa Butterfield) almost kills a classmate who attacked him, he is inducted into Battle School, run by the crusty Colonel Graff (played by Harrison Ford). There, Graff does everything he can to make Ender feel isolated and to believe he can only rely on himself.

The characterization is where this movie didn’t shine as much as it could have. The pacing in some important parts of the film was too quick, and the information dump for those unfamiliar with the story could leave many audience members scratching their heads. If the director had included one or two additional Battle Room sequences, even if they were only showing a gradual progression in Ender’s abilities, it would have smoothed out the pacing to a better level.

The dream sequences were handled very well, with appropriate pacing and believable graphics. I also really liked how they depicted the Formics, especially the queen, who I thought had a very regal air despite being completely alien.

The music, while not really memorable by itself (like the music from The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars series), worked well with the film and emphasized the correct moments and was silent in the correct moments. It was never overwhelming, either, and never got in the way of the film itself.

Despite the problems with the characterization issues, this was a good adaptation because it was able to convey the overall essence of the story without losing too much from the book. Could it have been better? Yes. Would it have been better if they had taken an extra 20 minutes or so and fleshed things out a little more? Yes, but as far as adaptations go, Ender’s Game was one of the better ones I’ve seen. I plan to go see it again, and I recommend it.

Release Date: November 1, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 80%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (medical use to knock out a character)
Language: 1 (brief instances of mild expletives)
Nudity: 0 (unless you count seeing Ender in the shower from the waist up)
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 3 (fisticuffs and beating, mass destruction of aliens and humans)


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