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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ender's Game Review

Ender's Game, the 2013 film that is based on the iconic novel of the same name staring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. The film is about Ender Wiggin, a promising young cadet that is rising through the ranks of the Battle Game school. In the year 2086 alien creatures known as the Formic attacked earth and slaughter millions, and the film takes place 50 years after the human race defeated the Formic and now humanity is preparing the next generation of soldiers by using kids.
One problem from the beginning is that the movie did not provide ample reasoning as to why kids are being used to control the fate of the human race. Other than line saying something about kids' minds are faster and that they know technology better or something like that, there is very littler explanation as to why children are humanity's only hope. Most likely, it was explained in the novel. Being that Ender's Game is based on a novel that a lot of people have a read, the movie adaptation occasionally suffers from some problems that adaptations usually have: a reliance on the fact that the audience knows the source material. While not always prevalent, there are aspects that feel as though there was a lot more behind it that those who have read the book can fill in the blanks. Some aspects of the story are skimmed over without much explanation. Even though the lack of explanation was a minor problem, Ender's Game biggest issue is that there is a general lack of suspense and intensity that most other good films have. Since those that have read the book already know how everything turns out, this is not a problem for those viewers, for the rest of us however, you feel that the story is a little predictable and that the final outcome is entirely expected, even if the ending is fantastic and mostly unexpected.


Directed by: Gavin Hood
Genre: Sci-Fi,
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Running Time: 114 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13


The Good: The Battle Room scenes are cool, Harrison Ford is a excellent as always, Fantastic ending, Mostly non-annoying child/teen actors, Intriguing science-fiction world,

The Bad: Lack of suspense and intensity, Please explain why are kids controlling the fate of the humanity again?,



Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
In the year 2086, an alien species called the Formics attacks Earth. Mazer Rackham, commander of a small reserve patrol force, halts their advance and apparently sacrifices himself during their attack.
Fifty years later, a young cadet named Andrew "Ender" Wiggin beats a school bully named Stilson at a hand-held virtual game while Colonel Hyrum Graff and Major Gwen Anderson from the International Fleet watch via Ender's monitor on his neck. Ender is summoned to have the monitor on the back of his neck removed. When Stilson and his gang attack him, Ender retaliates and violently beats Stilson. Ender returns home and confesses grief over his actions to his sister Valentine. Their older brother Peter interrupts them and convinces Ender to play a game. He then begins choking Ender, threatening to kill him but pulls back. Graff and Anderson visit the Wiggin family and offer Ender a place in Battle School, admitting that the final test was to see how Ender would react to his monitor's removal. Graff talks privately with Ender and is able to convince him to accept, because Ender believes that "it was what he was born for".
Watch the movie to see what happens next.


Plot: 7.2/10- Ender's Game plot and general concept are great, albeit a little reminiscent of Star Wars and Star Trek in some aspects in terms of setting. Many of the concepts about how to create a leader are explored, and while they lack sufficient time to explode them in any depth, what little is present is thought-provoking to a degree. Where Ender's Game falters is when the movie rushes past certain points in the plot. Despite feeling a little slow at times, the movie simultaneously feels rushed. Most of the movie is about Ender training to become a commander and, for the most part, it was entertaining and interesting, even if it still had a few of the problems mentioned above.

Characterization: 7.5/10- Thanks to a strong performance by Butterfield, Ender is a mostly likable and well rounded character. He actually reminded me of Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion, albeit not nearly as messed up in the head or as developed as Shinji of course, but it was cool to see another somewhat similar type character. Colonel Hyrum Graff, played by Harrison Ford, is given some moral complexity and he is an all around good character. Most of the other characters are forgettable side characters that lack any real development.

Action: 6.9/10- The Battle Room scenes in Ender's Game are fun and entertaining to watch. In some ways, the game reminded me of Quidditch from Harry Potter, but not in a bad way. The giant spac and simulator battles are entertaining for the most part, even if they lack suspense. As stated previously, there is little suspense or tension at any point during the movie.

Acting: 7.8/10- Harrison Ford is fantastic as always, and Butterfield continues to prove that he is one of the better young actors in the business today. Some of the young teen and child actors are usually fine considering their age; however, they do seem unnatural in a few scenes.

Special effects: 7.5/10- Some of Ender's Game special effects look great, while others look unrefined with obviously noticeable use of green screen.

Soundtrack: 7.2/10- Steve Jablonsky score is surprisingly good, with a few tracks in particular that are noticeable while watching the movie.

Humor: N/A-

Overall: 7.4/10- Overall, Ender's Game is a very good effort and a mostly entertaining one at that. While most of the flaws can be overlooked, the movie is not particularly memorable unless you have read the source material, but it was nevertheless more worth my time spent watching it.

Closing comments: As with most novel adaptations, those that have read the book will either love it because they are fans of the book, or hate because it is different than the source material. As for the rest movie watching audience, Ender's Game is a well made science fiction film that is very good, but never truly great.

Recommended for: Sci-fi fans, Fans of the book,

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14 comments:

  1. I read *most* of Enders game (I still haven't made myself finish it... I need to do that..) before I saw the movie. Honestly, I enjoyed it. It wasn't great by any means, but it was well done. Sadly though, I can't recommend it to any who hasn't read the book, because there are parts which they skipped over MUCH too fast and if you haven't read the book, then it won't make sense.

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    1. What you are saying seems to confirm what I thought about how the movie left too much out. The movie just presented a lot of concepts and skipped right past them. Thanks for the comment Alana!

      -James

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  2. Good review! It's been a while since I read the book, and I can't remember a specific reason why they used kids being actually explained. (But I never even thought of it until people were pointing it out and wondering so I think there must have been one!) The only thing I can think of now is simply that kids are easier to train, and ... (spoilers!) ... manipulate. Adults probably would have caught on to the fact that it was real, and that'd ruin everything.

    Anyway, even though I read the book, I still thought the film was unmemorable. They played it too safe and it was mostly just boring. I liked the book, so I appreciate that they were very faithful, but I only liked the book, and the movie fell short of that. But still, not a waste of time, as you said.

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    1. Thank you Sarah! That kind of makes sense as to why, but I still wish the movie explained it better.

      Exactly, the was very forgettable. Actually, I can't remember that much of the movie and I watched a few days ago!

      -James

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  3. Great review! :) I have read several books in the Ender's series so far(the first 3 as of now), so that's why I liked the movie a lot(while watching it, I kept picking out parts I remembered from the book); while I really loved the movie, I can definitely see someone not liking it- the movie had that feeling of being written for readers of the book that some novel-adapted movies have. It's been a while since I read the first book(I was 12), but I think they explained why they were using kids instead of adults(though I am glad they upped the kid's ages- in the book, they start out at around five years old, which I find very unrealistic, even if I do love the books). I agree, Asa Butterfield did a really good job in the role of Ender(he's definitely one of my top favorite teen/kid actors- I saw him in a movie he did when he was eight and he was very good considering his age), and Harrison Ford was great as always- I thought it was interesting seeing him in that type of role, since it was so different from Han Solo or Indiana Jones.
    Overall, I really liked the movie, but can see why other people wouldn't.

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    1. Thank you! :) It's not that I did not like the movie, I actually did like, but didn't love it. But I would definitely watch a sequel! I would like to see where the story goes from here. :) Yes, I agree, it was interesting to see Ford in a different type of role. If you want to see another great role he has played, watch 42; he is fantastic in that movie!

      -James

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  4. I agree w/ the others who have read it. If you have read it the film is satisfactory but if you have not it goes by much too fast. My guess at the reason for using kids is that somehow it had something to do w/ the fact that the fleet has been traveling for a whole generation of earth years by then and also that is was meant to make a point of social commentary but I'm not sure what it was.

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    1. Okay, that kind of makes sense, and so does the social commentary aspect, although as with many adaptations, the commentary is lost in the translation to film. Thanks for the input JT!

      -James

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  5. On the whole I liked it: some of it was beautiful looking (the Battle Dome was especially well-done, though I was getting a little nauseous) and it worked up to the part I read. Since I didn't finish it, I can't judge how good/bad it all was compared to the book.

    I will agree that you had to fill in a lot of plot, but if you wanted a faithful adaptation, that would mean a miniseries at best. I also thought the acting was pretty good (Butterfield especially), though Ben Kingsley in Maori make-up might be a bit much in the beginning, and Gonzo or Bonzo...no comment.

    Still, I would recommend it and enjoyed it. Not the best adaptation, but nowhere a disaster either.

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    1. Overall, I like the movie as well, but did not love it. And I agree, some of the visuals looked great, but a few others effects looked kind of unfinished, at least it looked unfinished on the Blu-Ray. It may have looked better in the theater though.

      You are right about the miniseries, although other adaptations have been able to fit the important parts from the book without leaving the audience too questions. For the most part, I liked Kingsley character, but Bonzo was kind of terrible.

      -James

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  6. I've heard a little about this movie; it seems to have a strong if smaller fan base for it's book. I appreciate your review, as I can put it a little lower on my movies-to-see-list. :)

    ~Jamie

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    1. The number of people that have actually read the book is surprisingly high, at least that is what the comments have lead me to believe. But yes, there are several other movies you should see before Ender's Game. :)

      -James

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  7. Hi James, we both saw the same movie. Do not know if it was the limitations of the story, the director or the editing, but it never got exciting.

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    1. Agreed, the movie never made me feel like what was happening was important and it completely lacked intensity.

      -James

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