Sound Off: Gavin Hood's 'Ender's Game' Adaptation - Your Thoughts?
by Alex Billington
November 1, 2013
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? Remember: the enemy's gate is down. First published in 1985, now hitting the big screen in 2013. Orson Scott Card's sci-fi story Ender's Game has been adapted into a movie by writer/director Gavin Hood (of Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine previously), starring Asa Butterfield as young Ender Wiggin, recruited by Harrison Ford as Col. Graff to the International Fleet. There he trains to command an army and prevent another attack on Earth. So how is it? Does it live up to the book at all? If you've seen it, leave a comment with your thoughts on Gavin Hood's Ender's Game.
Spoiler Warning: We strongly urge everyone to actually see the film before reading ahead, as there may be spoilers below. We also encourage all commenters to keep major spoilers from the film to a minimum, if possible. However, this is an open discussion from this point on! Beware of spoilers, don't ruin this film!
To fight the buggers, I enjoyed Ender's Game and appreciate that it was made, but I didn't love it. The visual effects are big and exciting and the story is all there, but unfortunately it lacks much of the more complex story beats to make it as good as the book. I thought Asa Butterfield did a solid job, I was bored by Harrison Ford, and despite the odd make-up, I thought Ben Kingsley was solid but lackluster. The best scenes involve Ender with the other kids, but they glossed over the Battle Room scenes way too quickly. Only a few of the battles were shown (I wanted more!) and they weren't that exciting. We never see Ender learn certain values that are important to his character which takes away from his journey to becoming the man he is at the end.
Overall, this Ender's Game movie is admittedly solid and wasn't as big of a disaster as it could've been, but is also very far from what it should've been. My feeling is that the movie was over-manufactured by a studio hungry for another franchise. It spends too much time trying to build itself up as a popular young adult series with sequels on the way rather than actually telling the more adult, the more intimate, the deeper story found in the book. That is honestly its biggest fault, glossing over the more important details in the story in service of glossy entertainment designed for a specific demographic. But that's just my own opinion.
So what did you think of Gavin Hood's Ender's Game? Awesome sci-fi action or one big mess? We will remove any comments that indicate you have not seen the movie, as this area is meant to discuss the film only once you have seen it and can talk about your thoughts. Please keep the comments civilized!
Reader Feedback - 25 Comments
While the trailer made me think "Cheap, action, schlock ... with kids." The movie turned out to be much more entertaining and thought provoking than that. Having not read the books, I went in completely ignorant of the storyline and was so pleased that there actually was a story. What I liked? Like I said, there's a story. There are characters. They have arcs. The visual effects were adequate (although I don't think any of us will look at how people float in space the same way ever again. Thanks Gravity). Harrison Ford was much less annoying than I expected. Wondered if the twist was going to be what I thought it was...and it was...and I still liked it. Perhaps I liked the potential repercussions more...which we've yet to see. What I didn't like? "3 - 2 - 1 ...." used about 1000x. Teen actors were occasionally stilted. Could only understand about 50% of Ben Kingsley's New Zealand-style-mumblecore lines. The original score was unfortunately, very UNoriginal. I think Ender's advancement through the ranks happens a little too quickly. This might have been handled better as a super-expensive, mini-series, which would have allowed them to focus on each stage of his training for much longer. Overall, it was a solid film and I hope sequels will follow. *GASP* Did I just ASK for a sequel?
ccoleman on Nov 1, 2013
a point , for you to understand what the film is lacking : There's 200 PAGES of story and character development from Orson BEFORE Ender even gets close to Command School . the desperation they all show makes the film tense and thus enjoyable . But the story is lacking in depth . as if Hood thought " well this is about kids for kids to watch , let's shoot it with all action and MINIMAL character development , the way they say they like it " I understand what you liked and why , but the book explains the protagonists SO much better . For instance , you don't know the significance of Bean to Ender . Or Dink . And having Petra instantly be his friend is contrary to the narrative point of Ender being completely isolated in order to maximize his full potential . Using emails to Val to direct the narrative also betrays this point , which Graf makes at least 5 times in the movie . Did they create a new character of 'Bernard " , just to get that You Look Like A Plumber joke in ? It needed to be 114 minutes of MOVIE and 26 mins of credits and previews ( ur standard 2:20 movie today ) to make this better . I'll give them credit for making Major Anderson a black woman , thus using her empathy for Ender more than the book male character does does . Also I'm rereading the book , and once Ender is at Command school Graf is arrested ( complicity in Bonzo's death ) and disappears from the story ..
Dominic on Nov 2, 2013
For Bernard , it's as if they thought " we need his team to be PC representative of all the races , so we need a dorky Caucasian blue-collar kid to flesh it out .".
Dominic on Nov 2, 2013
Great movie. Great plot, Great CG.... all was combined beautifully into a great movie 8.5/10. Time well spent!
Ivan. tih on Nov 1, 2013
Really liked it. Obviously they had to leave out some of the subplots and arcs (like Valentine and Peter creating their public personas and working together), but I think the right amount of the story was kept to make an engaging film. For how short the book is, it is dense with some of the intricacies of military leadership, which are valuable and necessary lessons for Ender, while encouraging the reader to consider the moral dilemmas involved. They crammed as much of that into the film as they could without sacrificing the main story arc or making a film that would have been too long. I thought Butterfield did a great job, and I think Ford's performance was spot on for how his character was described in the book. He's supposed to be tired and weary, the moral burden he has been tasked with for years (turning children into cold-blooded killers for the survival of our species) has drained him. I hope this isn't turned into a franchise, because this was by far the best book in the series.
Elbak on Nov 1, 2013
This reminds me of those dumb SPY KIDS movies.... Sorry I cannot force myself to watch this in theatres... Maybe on Netflix.
Nick Henderson on Nov 2, 2013
It reminds me of almost every anime ever. The adults stand there while some kid saves the universe...
Bl00dwerK on Nov 2, 2013
While my eyes loved the movie (how many times as a kid did I daydream about being in the battleroom?), my heart saddened with every rushed plot point, and overall lack of character building. While I read hunger games after I saw the movie, I would give that as an example of a more paced and logical presentation of an awesome original story. I thought Asa was a very, very good Ender Wiggin. Harrison Ford...meh. I think quite a bit of the supporting cast could have been great, but they were never really given the chance. It's too bad the studio decided to go in this direction. I think they underestimate kids today. This story deals with some really deep, very controversial issues. Yet that is no reason to gloss over them. Kids these days are growing up hearing about drone warfare, preemptive strikes, and children soldiers. I feel as if America today is very much like Earth during the story...constantly under threat, and always trying to balance the ethical decision with the practical one. I didn't fully understand these issues when I read the book as a kid, but I still loved to read it. As I read it again and again I still loved the book, but I started to recognize the more important themes. I think the same could have been done with the movie. All that being said, I enjoyed the movie. Maybe the DVD will have some extra battleroom scenes that I can geek to.
jlw034 on Nov 2, 2013
EXACTLY my thoughts, but I also understand the visual medium point of view that they HAD to cut or add here, you know? I thought that Harrison Ford was a great Graff, and the other supporting actors/actresses did a superb job! But I do agree with you on the breakneck pacing.
Sandra Ramge on Nov 2, 2013
Poor choice of Moises for Bonzo.... the ruined the story with the typical Hollywood rush and loss of focus
ChantOlive on Jun 21, 2014
I watched it the other week, it felt rushed. There's a lot of plot in a relatively short book but despite thinning it out the movie still felt like it was moving too fast and never gave the characters time to develop. An extra 20/30 minutes could fix it but then you're looking at a 150 minutes. A real no-win situation for any writer or director.
El_MUERkO on Nov 2, 2013
6/10 for me
A5J4DX on Nov 2, 2013
Longtime fan of the book. I liked the movie. I have many issues with it but one thing it seems to have done right is to make the story accessible to people who haven't read the source. Despite wonderful flash of recereated scenes the book (mind game!) and following the same basic three act structure (Earth, school, Eros), it's hindered by some poor choices. Petra, Bean and Meeker are all rough. A shame with such talent. They rely too much on actors saying something rather than showing. Even though I absolutely could've had hours more battle room scenes I thought what was there was well chosen.
Dominic on Nov 2, 2013
Having read the book, one has to go into the theater realizing that scenes from the book are going to be cut out and certain aspects of the plot will be adjusted accordingly. The essence of the story is really the most important piece that can be captured in a movie adaptation. I just watched the film for the second time... and I believe those of us who read the books are not giving the film appropriate credit. I feel that with the allotment of time available to tell Ender's story, they did a fantastic job. 8.5/10
Zak Coleman on Nov 2, 2013
not good. totally unbelievable. why kids? why does stupid gotcha-training make them strategic geniuses with the ability to command spaceships? etc etc. nothing good at all.
penis on Nov 3, 2013
It felt like it was made by the director of Wolverine 1 which was garbage. 2/10. 2 because Harrison Ford was in it.
Chevy on Nov 4, 2013
Never read the books - though it did feel rushed. Maybe could have split it into two parts. Regardless, glad I saw it at the theater (big f/x / ships etc). I feel like this had one of those trailers though that gave way too much away. Would do it again happily (but no second viewing @ the theater for me). Do hope it makes enough for a sequel or two. SciFi junky, can't be helped. As an aside, got to experience "Cinemark XD" for the first time (recently upgraded theater in my locale.) Not bad. Seats themselves were crazy comfy. Lots more space between aisles (you won't be kicking the seat in front of you by accident). Though... 16x9 screen ratio with no masking? Seems odd - though I guess IMAX is the same. Screen itself seemed a bit bright as well (blacks were nothing to brag about.) Sound seemed pretty good. Will have to go again, but overall, I think my local IMAX wins this round.
avconsumer2 on Nov 4, 2013
Was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with it as a whole. Yes, the visuals were pretty amazing, but because it was so rushed it left me feeling empty and sad in the fact that this adaptation could have been so much better. This SHOULD have been an epic movie worthy of the novel. This SHOULD have been either lengthened or split into 2 or 3 movies. THIS SHOULD have been treated with the same respect, integrity, and CARE similar to The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter Franchises. Heck, even Twilight Breaking Dawn was given enough forethought and respect to have been broken into two movies!! It's a damn shame that the production company and Gavin Hood treated Enders Game with such carelessness. What could have been an epic franchise, will now be just another forgettable sci-fi flop. Its a damn shame.
EK on Nov 4, 2013
lynne on Dec 10, 2013
As far as i'm concerned the whole film could have been the battle room! With a blip of an ending:) The VAST majority of the book was the battle room. How he learned and grew. The political conflicts within the school. The isolation! Then his breakdown. Heck, the battle room wasn't hardly touched:( I will say this though, as a FAN of the series... I was glad they didn't "rewrite" the book as a movie. They stayed true. And watching the scenes I had imagined in my mind on the big screen was FANTASTIC! I just walked out wanting more. A LOT MORE:)
Ammon Anderson on Nov 5, 2013
I just saw it. Haven't read the book, just Wiki'd it. In & of itself, I liked it. in & of itself/the verse as set up, I'd love to see more. However, I refuse to knowingly line the pockets of a homophobe like Card.
VAharleywitch on Nov 6, 2013
I am a huge scifi nerd and with that said, the ender series is my favorite! I was disappointed to see the movie rush through the aspects of the story which make it so good. The movie attempts to reach at Enders emotion but doesn't come close to accomplishing it. The ender story is definitely not a teeny-bopper story and should not be attempted to be made into one. Perhaps it's possible with the first book but the rest of the series?? Not possible. If children of the mind is made into a movie I will be the happiest man alive. Long live the speaker for the dead!
Lovepequeños on Nov 8, 2013
Gavin Hood ruined this movie. Terrible. The book has been massacred.
GTFOofNOLA on Nov 20, 2013
If they were smart, they would have stuck to the book and it could have been an INCREDIBLE set of films. First, the government-breeding-genius-kids could have been done in a fascinating way, taking the time to really show Earth in the future, and the formative experiences of Ender's childhood by including every key scene the book includes. The Hunger Games did this more of less successfully. Then, the Battle School, which took up MOST of the book, should have been immersive, edgy, and detailed, without deviating or changing characters/plots etc. There could have been much more subtlety. The fantasy game should have been just as in the book, so that the end with the queen would also have matched the book, and thus had the same impact it did as the book did. But it did not. Then, a second movie entire could have been from when Ender leaves the Battle School onward. By breaking it into two movies, twice as much profit, happier fans, time to get emotionally invested in the characters, and time to actually reproduce the book on film instead of a shallower caricature of the book. So sad. The book is absolutely perfect for film adaptation - and they missed the boat. The book was so successful because it was brilliant and effective; the movie should have just stuck with that instead of thinking it could change things to be better. This should have been one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made - they had great material to work with - what a shame.
lynne on Dec 10, 2013
the ruined it. Bonzo was never a midget. The story was too rushed. They should have had a time stretch sequence..maybe showing battles, school, more battles... them getting tired ... odds being stacked against him. Ender was in battle school for years in the book. terrible adaptation!
ChantOlive on Jun 21, 2014
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