When filmmakers create adaptations of books, you can expect a juggling act. Fans of the original material and newcomers experience the same product but react differently. Ender’s Game is a decent adaptation but it does lose a few things in translation.
Earth suffers two invasions by bug-like creatures, known as “Formics”. Children are sent to Battle School for training in the International Fleet, to prepare for a third and final encounter. Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) displays traits that could make him the leader to win the war for good.
I decided to read the book before the movie’s release, which made my viewing more interesting. A lot of the story’s big moments and overall concepts were kept intact, and presented in just two hours. The movie feels a bit rushed but I doubt making it longer would have made it more enjoyable.
Asa Butterfield leads a very young cast and does a great job capturing Ender’s range of emotions. He’s a brilliant strategist and leader but his skills isolate him from the other kids. Harrison Ford embraces the older, hardened character of Colonel Graff. Graff wants victory, no matter what, and blindly invests in Ender’s military education.
Whether new to Ender or not, the visuals here create a world that is believable and gorgeous to look at. The zero gravity Battle Room where the child soldiers train was better than I imagined. Ships, lasers and explosions swarm across the screen in frenzied space battles. Ender’s Game is best when the action is heavy.
The cast of younger actors are true to their literary counterparts, except for Bonzo, a major player in Ender’s story. He’s meant to be an older, bigger soldier but in the film, looks like a munchkin from Oz next to Asa Butterfield. His first appearance on screen got a laugh from the audience but his character is far from jovial.
Some of the changes from page to screen are subtle while others stick out big time. Ender’s promotions from the Battle Room were very rushed and don’t help to establish why he’s being promoted. We see him win and immediately move up, making the International Fleet look like an easy job. Why couldn’t anyone lead this army if it’s that simple?
Much of this is covered in the novel but for time constraints, it’s understandable why the film moved along.. Another character that Ender butts heads with early on, joins him in battle later. There is no mention of their previous conflict, and it’s forgotten about. Most of these are writing problems or there may be quite a few deleted scenes on the DVD.
Ender’s Game is a fun science fiction flick and worth checking out. It’s not a game changer, but it’s not bad either.