Quickie: Ender’s Game

In 2086, aliens known as Formics attacked Earth but were halted by the heroic Mazer Rackham. Fearing the Formics will return, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) of the International Fleet recruits some of the most gifted young people in the world to guard against an attack. One of these young people is the incredibly gifted Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield).

Over the past few years, young adult fiction has become a genre of its own, and Ender’s Game is the latest film to fall under that category (although the book was written in 1985). However, it never has enough excitement or substance to match most of its peers.

The main problem with Ender’s Game is that it tries to cram far, far too much into its two hour run time and, as such, spreads itself far too thin. Ender’s time being trained on the space station takes up the majority of the story but then throws in a rushed climax and frankly bizarre denouement that feels like it belongs in a different film. Throw in some scarcely explored family issues and a flimsy romance and the whole thing feels rushed and hastily cobbled together. There’s enough story to spread over two films but is barely interesting enough to fill one.

There’s a really quite dark undertone to the film, which is interesting but it still feels rather lightweight. Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford do a decent enough job in their respective roles but never set the screen on fire.

This is the first time science fiction has had the ‘young adult’ treatment on screen on this scale but it’s not one that will live long in the memory. There was potential here, but it’s ultimately wasted.

2 pigeons

2/5 pigeons

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22 thoughts on “Quickie: Ender’s Game

  1. jjames36 says:

    Mostly agreed. It isn’t as good as it could have been, and certainly not half so good as the novel.

    Good review.

  2. I love seeing kids get into books and then the movie version comes out and I’m mostly disappointed. I felt that way about ‘Ender’s Game’, ‘Hunger Games’, and I’m wondering about the recent Percy Jackson ‘Lightning Thief’– did it live up to the book series?

    • I liked The Hunger Games, thought that was pretty good but I wasn’t impressed with this. I’ve seen the first Percy Jackson film but not the new one and I haven’t read the books. I thought the first film was alright but nothing brilliant.

  3. Still haven’t caught this yet though your review seems to chime with what I’ve heard so far. Nicely reviewed as always.

  4. Smash says:

    I just saw this one! I rushed right out to see it because I love the book so much. It’s such a great story, totally engrossing. But I think the subject matter is difficult to translate. The thing I found most lacking was the tension between Ender and Graff and between Ender and his peers.

  5. karamelkinema says:

    I have not read the book (although i really want to now). I agree with what you said about it being to lightweight and the material deserves a much darker nuance than what it has now.. I think it’s what it lacks.. what a shame.

    • Yeah I wouldn’t mind reading the book too, I’m sure it’s loads better. I felt like it was too geared towards children too. I know it’s teen fiction but I thought they’d probably get bored and it was aimed at around 10/11 year olds.

  6. Gene says:

    Bummer man. Eric at LTBM had a little better opinion of it, but I still got the sense it was lacking in both content and depth. Thanks for the review!

  7. ruth says:

    Ahah, I was just telling someone this doesn’t appeal to me at all. Clearly your review confirms my dread Chris.

  8. chris2508 says:

    Top notch review.This has never really interested me, I liked your comment about the young adult genre, I totally agree.

  9. table9mutant says:

    Hmm. Sounds like I can skip this one. :-/ Too many other films I want to see at the moment anyway!

  10. mformariya says:

    I haven’t looked at any blogs (including my own :D) for ages, but can I just say,coming back to all that today, I have realised how much I’ve missed yours 😀 Always my favourite reviews 🙂

  11. Tom says:

    Good review man. Short and sweet. I actually enjoyed myself immensely in this, though I acknowledge (and tried actively to ignore) the flaws contained herein. I’m typically rolling my eyes at the upcoming angsty/repressed teen-as-savior for all of humanity each and everytime, but Asa Butterfield pulls this off. It’ll be interesting to see where the sequel goes.

    • Cheers man. Glad you got a kick out of this one! I just couldn’t get into unfortunately. Maybe I just couldn’t get passed the whole ‘kids saving the world’ thing. Butterfield was pretty decent but I didn’t feel he had masses to work with. Sequel should be interesting, they did kinda set one up with what happened at the end.

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