Sometimes in life, we are challenged beyond what we think we can achieve. That’s the point though; push us past our own limits so we can become something even greater. I think it’s important to remember that most of the time the biggest thing holding us back is ourselves. That’s what I got out of Ender’s Game. When I heard they were going to be making a movie adaptation of one of the most well known stories from the 80s, I was pretty excited. However, I hadn’t actually read the book, and I was a bit nervous about writing a review on a movie adaptation. This is rare; I read a lot so I felt like I had better get to seeing what all the fuss was about. It’s a quick read, only about 300 pages or so, and I absolutely loved the book. I finally got a chance to learn what everyone was raving about for all these years and afterwards was even more excited to see this film.
Because I read this book so closely to the actual film release, I feel confident in saying that my ability to compare and contrast the book and film is dead on. While I always expect some alterations since it’s difficult to translate 300 or more pages into an hour and a half, I have to be frank. I was disappointed with this film. Maybe that’s to be expected though. With all the hype and build up that comes from reading the book, it’s hard to live up to anyone’s expectations. I guess that’s life. It’s hard to beat your own imagination. Unfortunately, this is probably the fate of many based on the book by so and so adaptations.
For those that have not read or heard what Ender’s Game is about, I would put it in the same category of teenage sci fi along with The Hunger Games or Maze Runner. That being said, this book was written in 1985 and is really considered by most to create the mold that those books were formed from. It has nearly 30 years on them, and to this day is really just as good, if not better. Ender Wiggin is a young man who sometime in the near future is chosen at an early age to go into military training. He is held by many of his overseers to be the next savior of the human race from an alien bug race. While in training, Ender is trained through battle games and hands on experience rather than through books and teachers. While he does meet a few mentors, the training really comes from Ender himself and learning how to solve his own problems. He is constantly singled out for excelling and in doing so is isolated from his peers. As you can imagine, this molds Ender into a certain type of person. While his commanders do this to teach him more about self reliance, Ender struggles to maintain his sense of belonging.
This is the beginning of where I find problems with the film. In the book, Ender uses his seclusion to make him stronger, more independent, more of a leader, and more ruthless. The film takes more of a fuzzy, warm, hugs and kisses direction and groups him with the peers that he is in training with. While Ender still has to fight in order to gain the respect of these trainees, the struggle that makes Ender who he really is, is lost on the film. While the book really teaches Ender to be self reliant, the film shows Ender working more as a group leader and working together. To me, simple things like Ender insisting his peers call him commander in the book and not Ender really make the character. Long story short, I felt like the writers and producers of this film lost sight of some of the more important details of the book and turned it into another factory made teenage sci fi movie to go along with recent movies. It was as if they skipped out on the real story like a kid reading cliff notes in high school and not the actual book.
Ender’s journey is not the only flaw I see either. The scale of the ships, the bug communication, and the self exploration within the training game are all lost from this film. Most importantly, the isolation Ender goes through is not expressed and I really feel like this makes a completely different story line. This is disappointing coming from a book with such a fan base as a cult classic and even the author as producer.
All in all, watching Ender’s Game left me wanting more excitement. The book had it. Why didn’t the film? Even Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford, while grizzly and a perfect Colonel Graff, couldn’t get me over the hurdle of horrible screenwriting. Asa Butterfield also performs well as Ender but it wasn’t enough. Sadly, not only is the enemy’s gate down but so is my rating.
I give Ender’s Game 2 out of 5.
by Jason Burleson