Ender’s Game is one of those books held in very high regard by everyone I know. Personally I have never read it. In fact before coming along to a screening I barely even knew the gist of the plot.
So how does the film adaptation fair for someone fresh to the franchise?
All in all I was pretty pleased with the movie. It’s truly great to see a film predominately starring and aimed at kids that still carries itself in a serious, smart tone. Respecting your audience’s intelligence is always a plus. The characters are complex and interesting. We deal with themes of genocide, child soldiers, manipulation, war and the cost of victory. Compare that to the lessons of the last animated film your kids watched.
From what I gather from the readers I know the film strips away a lot of the side plots from the book. We strictly stay with Ender and his story. His siblings back on Earth who carry their own plots in the prose are only seen when they interact with Ender himself. It’s his story and I think this streamlined narrative is a good fit. As much as every reader may complain you can’t throw an entire novel up on film. Sacrifices must be made for the change in medium.
I know a lot of science fiction movies ruined by cheesy effects and thankfully Ender’s passes with flying colours. The special effects are top notch and Ender’s zero gravity training skirmishes are a truly gorgeous highlight.
Aside from Harrison Ford playing the same grumpy old guy he’s played in every film ever the cast all do a pretty great job, especially for their age. It’s a cast of kids and I didn’t once cringe at bad acting. That’s an achievement right there.
I’m not saying it’s the best film ever but it’s a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours. I think it lacks a certain punch to really be considered great; particularly in the climax but it’s still very much worth a watch.