Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reid Review: Ender's Game Movie Lives Up to Expectations

Ender's Game movie poster.(
(Update: March 2, 2014)

So many people have reviewed the Ender's Game movie with very different opinions. Some love it; some hate it. Some like it better than the book, and others think it pales in comparison. There are even reviewers who have never read the book and enjoyed it or hated it. As a science fiction fan who's favorite book is Ender's Game, I equally enjoyed the movie.

Here's a one-sentence description of the film from the Internet Movie Database: "Young Ender Wiggin is recruited by the International Military to lead the fight against the Formecs, a genocidal alien race which nearly annihilated the human race in a previous invasion." You can learn more about the basic plot from the book description (click the Amazon link below), so I won't bother explaining.

The movie stars as the protagonist boy Ender Wiggin, as Colonel Graff, as Ender's friend Petra Arkanian, and as Ender's sister Valentine Wiggin among others. It's based on the book of the same name, which won both the Nebula and Hugo awards. If you haven't read the novel, you should read it. Below are links to the book and movie, which is now on Blu-ray.

So here's my review:

The acting in the movie is great, especially from Asa Butterfield, who portrayed Ender perfectly. Harrison Ford also does a great job as expected. In addition, the movie is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book I've seen (minus the fact that Major Anderson, who is second in command, was changed to a female in the movie--but I liked that change). I may have developed low standards of book-to-movie adaptations, however, after watching the horrible movie version of Battlefield Earth in 2000.

Although there isn't much action in the film since the book doesn't have much, either, the pacing of the movie is great, and there is no dull moment. The only thing major missing is Ender's thoughts, which are in the book but naturally couldn't be displayed in the movie. In the book, the reader can feel how Ender is mentally pushed to the limit, but I didn't get that impression from the film. You do get to see how Ender is a tactical genius, however.

The CGI is good except for the mind game that Ender plays on his tablet device. The movie is trying to show that it's a game he's playing, so they purposefully dumbed down the graphics for those scenes. I actually didn't mind it, but come to think of it, since the story is in the future, the game would have better graphics, so there was no need to dumb it down.

Also, the major twist is retained and apparently has the same effect for some [I know someone who saw Ender's Game without reading the book and was blown away (and he watches a movie every week at theaters)]. But a lot of the book naturally had to be cut due to movie length constraints. For instance, I expected the subplot with Ender's brother and sister to be absent from the movie, and that turned out to be the case. But the movie still establishes, although briefly, that Ender is a balance between his brother, who is mean and manipulative, and his sister, who is too empathetic.

Overall, the movie is exactly how I remember the book (it's been years since I've read it), and it's one of those films I would enjoy watching several times (I hardly watch a movie more than once). I personally give it a 9 out of 10. If you want to watch a review from someone who hasn't read the book and reviews it based on its own merits, here is a video I came across:

What are your thoughts about the movie or book?


  1. Great review. I have not seen it, and will probably wait till it out on DVD/Blu Ray.
    If it is like the book then I'm sure it is great.

  2. Sweet review Reid. I still haven't seen it, but loved the book. If it's half as good, then I know I'll love it.

  3. Haven't seen it yet. I liked the book. I'll probably see it when it comes out on dvd.

  4. Although I saw it in theaters, I'll probably buy it on Blu-ray, too.


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