ENDER’S GAME the movie is a stunning realization of the book it was based off, by the same name. The movie was a joy to watch, complete with superb acting, inspiring visual effects and a screenplay that reflects the original book with complete respect, you can’t go wrong with this flick.
The basis of the movie is a translation of about half of the novel, covering Ender’s POV entirely. The movie starts exactly where the book begins, with Ender in school, his monitor installed, the governing military of present day Earth, the International Fleet watching his every move. Their goal is to see if he is a perfect candidate to go to Battle School and hopefully become the next commander of the Fleet. It is quite evident from the beginning that Ender has been chosen not only to lead the Fleet, but is their last hope for a commander to protect them from an invading alien species. An alien race that decimated Earth’s population 100 years earlier.
Ender is taken out of his home, which isn’t exactly a warm and friendly place and put into Battle School which is even more “unfriendly.” Ender is given trial after trial to force him to become not just a good leader, but a leader that can take the human race to victory over the Formics.
The movie was very fast paced, they had a lot of material to cover. Ender’s launchie days, his transfer to Salamander army and then his subsequent promotion to Dragon Army Commander. Then back to Earth and then later Command School, which is where some of the most stunning visual effects occurred. It was a lot to cover in one movie and because of this I was a bit apprehensive about the movie. But, they did well. Gavin Hood did cut a lot, but what was included made the point.
I was highly impressed with the movie, the acting of Asa Butterfield was to the tee Ender Wiggins, I don’t think they could have cast that roll any better. Colonel Graff was played by Harrison Ford and while Graff’s character was a bit more caustic and reprehensible, compared to how Harrison Ford’s portrayal, he did do a good job. The surprise of the movie was Viola Davis playing a Major “Gwen” Anderson. A role that was male in the book, but was made more believable by Volia’s performance, since Anderson was the only one that seemed guilt-ridden by their treatment of the children. Ben Kingsley as Rackham was also a bit of surprise, but it was his casting it was the fact that they depicted him with the Maori facial tattoos. This was not once mentioned in the book, but it was brought up in the movie. Rackham claiming that his facial tattoos were there to commemorate his father’s Maori heritage, his way of “speaking for the dead.” Again, this was another idea of Ender’s that was taken away from him within the movie. The concept of speaking for the dead being covered at the end of the book, when Ender begins his life as a colonist and a Speaker For The Dead, his first tome, the story of the Bugger Queen. This was the only mention of this concept in the movie and one of the most poignant concepts that I identified with in my adult reading of Ender’s Game. Poor Ender wasn’t the isolated mega-genius that he was in Card’s book, but a cog in the wheel of greatness that was the team of Ender’s Game the movie. I don’t know what Ender I liked more, movie Ender or book Ender. At least movie Ender was more relatable, since in the books, I could never make up my mind if I actually liked Ender as a person.
The special effects of the film were stunning by comparison to other space movies that I’ve seen. Sweeping camera shots of the space stations, alien planets and rocket launches were breathtaking. They also depicted the battle room exactly how I imagined it.
Lines like “The enemy gate is down.” Were reiterated within the movie to give substance to Ender’s mind and how it worked. The movie actually brought most of the points of the book together, much simpler then how the book did. Card’s writing left you to interpret a lot of the motivations behind Ender’s maneuverings and the movie stated them aloud. It worked though, having read the book, numerous times before seeing this movie.
Recommendations: You don’t have to have read the book to enjoy the movie. Fans of science fiction and action movies should really enjoy. The movie was not inappropriate for children, there were a few scenes of violence and explosions but nothing that would make me uncomfortable to show my own child. Because of the duration of the film and some scenes I do recommend for 10+ age range. Younger children will be bored because of the more mature themes and storyline.
Overall, a fabulous movie. There is no reason a person needs to read the book before seeing this movie, there were no areas that weren’t covered or scenes crafted “just for fans of the book.” Every point covered within the movie was to get to the final scene. The overall feel of the movie covering the basics of what the book had to impart. Go see the movie, you won’t be disappointed.
Book to Movie Discussion. There will be spoilers.
As a fan of the book, I knew there would be no way that the entirety would be translated into one feature film. The book within those 400 pages covers so much, including Ender’s young life for over a few years.
The first deviation from the book was with Ender’s age and the time period of his point-of-view. The movie only takes place within a few months of time. Which seems a bit childish to think that this fourteen year old boy could learn to command and entire fleet within such a short time? And they probably could have covered the same kind of time-line that Ender’s Game is set within – but would that have been received well by movie watchers? A six year old beating the crap out of other kids? Probably not.
The second large deviation I noticed was that Ender was not as isolated within the movie as he was within the book. Ender was quickly accepted as a leader at Battle School in the movie, being given his Jeesh early on in the film, they put Bean in his launch group and used him as a kind of sounding board. Instead of Ender coming to all the conclusions that he did within the novel, Ender and members of his jeesh came to those conclusions together. Mainly “The enemy gate is down” was processed when Ender and Bean first stepped into training in the Battle Room, instead of just Ender on his own. It worked in the movie though, since this process was all internal with Ender. The avoidance of a lot of internal monologue led to Ender not being portrayed as completely isolated like in the book. One major account was also Petra’s character as a main role, leading me to believe this was included for “hopeful romance” scenes. Ender did train with Petra, like in the book, but it was a key focal point in the movie. Petra being Ender’s first ally instead of Alai.
A few other deviations:
- The aliens were never called buggers, only Formics.
- Peter and Valentine were only siblings, there was never any discussion of Locke or Demosthenes. This cut out a lot of the book, since a good portion of the books POV was Valentine’s.
- While the term Third was brought up, it wasn’t expounded on in the movie.
- Bernard’s character was brought throughout the entire movie and was even brought into Ender’s jeesh, which I didn’t understand. Characters like Carn Carby, Dumper, Hot Soup, Shen and Vlad were never introduced.
- It went from Salamander Army to Dragon Army, there was no Rabbit Army in the movie.
- The colonist movement was not introduced, Ender discovers the Queen on the movies “Eros.” The planet in the movie was actually not named, only that it was a planet taken over from the Formics and close to their home world. The Formics in the movie were restricted to one world only, their home world and not spread out on different planets like in the book.
There were a bit of deviations, but as a hole it captured the feel of the book. I enjoyed it, I hope you do also.