Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game

So I finally saw the movie version of “Ender’s Game” this weekend on cable.  I loved the book (I can take or leave the sequels, though).

It’s not a great movie, and I stand by the one thing I thought before seeing it – making Ender a young teen changes the story, and weakens it.  I realize they pretty much had to do it for practical reasons, but the impact of what’s done to Ender – and the shock of how smart and how ruthless he is – is far lessened because of his age.

Besides that, Harrison Ford pretty much mailed his performance in, which was disappointing (but unsurprising), and I wasn’t overly impressed with the look of the space battles.  The Battle Room was neat, but more time should have been spent there to show it off (again, I can see why, as a practical matter, they probably couldn’t do that – but as a viewer I was still a little disappointed).

As a translation from book to film, I think they probably did as well as they could.  There’s a lot of backstory (both stated and implied) in the book, and the realizations that Ender makes take a lot longer to happen in the book – we see him learn and grow, and in the movie a lot of that is just skipped over or referenced so quickly you barely see it).  And if you didn’t read the book, there are a lot of things that are shown quickly, or mentioned in passing, that you likely wouldn’t pick up on (such as, why does Ender soap himself up and turn on all the hot water before he fights Bonzo Madrid in the bathroom?).

Overall, I think it’s a tough book to film, and a lot of what’s interesting about the book (the many fights in the Battle Room and the way that Ender learns both about tactics and also how to be a leader) would seem repetitive if it were filmed faithfully.  So I have to give them credit for trying, and for doing their best to both keep as close as reasonably possible to the book while making a well-paced film.  I don’t think they succeeded, but I’m not sure they could have, ultimately.


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