Ender’s Game Movie Review
Let me begin by saying that I’ve read the book(s), but I’m not going to delve into the minute differences between them and the film. Frankly, it could’ve worked even with all the things that were cut – but it doesn’t, for a myriad of reasons:
While the movie does contain most of the events that Ender went through, the pacing is all wrong – it feels as if you’re watching Ender’s story in fast-forward mode. For a movie 2 hours long, they sure managed to rush every scene. As a result, there is no meaningful character development – the kids are hollow, placeholder faces, which appear like a generic ad for diversity. In addition, there is no sense of achievement: success seems to fall out of the sky on Ender, and difficulties are overcome with unexplained, laughable ease.
Finally, important concepts (like the limitation on number of children, or the Ansible) are not explained properly in-film, leading the viewer to guess and deduct on his own. On the other hand, “the enemy’s gate is down”, one of Ender’s critical insights, is gained nonchalantly even before his first battle, without any context, or apparent meaning. It’s as if 10-year-old Einstein sat for breakfast one day, and randomly told his mom, “you know what? I think E=MC^2”. What horrible storytelling.
But the worst comes when the actual war begins. It’s as if this were Ender’s Game as told by the Buggers (AKA Formics for the polite). All of a sudden, humanity isn’t desperately fighting for survival against a superior, infinite enemy, that has murdered tens of millions. Instead, it has the bugs “boxed in”. A single-planet species, with an asteroid base somewhere, has somehow boxed in a species with numerous colonies, and endless fleets. Perhaps the script writers require a rudimentary lesson in spacial geometry?
Forget tactical brilliance against insurmountable odds, the inhuman fatigue that the children had to suffer, and the sacrifice of the people in the war fleet, up to the ultimate, last-ditch victory. In their place we are presented with Hollywood’s standard infantile anti-war morality, that turns humanity – yet again – into interstellar brutes that literally just won’t listen. In an astonishing accomplishment, this movie manages to avoid all the politics that are in the original story, while pushing its own inferior agenda instead.
Bottom line: I’m giving the film a 2 out of 10, since visually it was done quite well, and the actors did seem to put a decent effort into their roles. However, it is an insult to a classic sci-fi story.