Film Review: Ender’s Game (2013)

As a fan of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel (click here for story summary), I was very much looking forward to the film adaptation of Ender’s Game, and while I am glad to say that it stays relatively faithful to the source material, it is but a shadow of the masterpiece that is the book. The plot speeds forward extremely quickly, condensing the rigorous training and development of the characters into short sequences or even just lines of dialogue that ultimately squanders the grand scale of the story and leaves you wondering just how much of the movie was left on the cutting room floor.

Obviously, a two-hour movie cannot include every detail, and it is expected for there to be changes, but in this case it seemed that the creative team simply did not include the proper selection of scenes to communicate the stakes of the story and intensity of the situation. For example, in the book, the child soldiers are trained until they are broken, run into the ground by the adult commanders, while in the movie it looks like they’re all just off on an adventure having a bunch of fun at space camp.

Anyway, for what it is, the film looks great, the casting is suitable enough, and it tells the same general story of the book well enough to be recognizable as Ender’s Game. I suppose viewers who haven’t read the book will probably enjoy it a lot more since they will be ignorant of how much of the story was skimmed over, but if you’re a fan of the book, you will probably just enjoy it for the nostalgia of seeing the characters and settings from the book realized on the screen, nothing more.

In the end, this is a decent start for creating adaptations of the material, but I truly hope it is given another shot in the future with more care, and perhaps in a different format that better suits it, like an animated series or television series akin to Battlestar Galactica.

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