So there’s a movie based on a popular book, who knew? While these types of adaptations can never possibly reach the depth and scope of their written counterparts, we’ve gotten close with a few shots (Game of Thrones most specifically). This one did a decent job. I would highly recommend the Ender movie as a companion piece to the book. The streamlined and condensed story makes the movie quite understandable, but it loses a lot of the magic that brings life to most of the characters. Let’s go into more detail (and spoileriness) after the jump.
Ender, Graff, and possibly Mazer are the only folks whose personalities are given any complexity. For me, in a movie about Ender, we didn’t go as deep as I’d hope. With so little focus on other students, I’m surprised that Ender’s intelligence and capacity for strategy were glossed over. If you’ve talked to anyone who read the book, I’m sure they shamelessly revealed their frothing over the battle room. However once Ender gets his command over his own army, we skip to the final (oversimplified) simulation. I didn’t say a corny montage covering the time lapse. I said skipped! Oh well…
To my dismay, Bean’s role was butchered along with omitting the Peter/Valentine alter ego storyline. Since it is painfully obvious they intend to go the Speaker for the Dead route, this is forgivable. Although I much prefer the Shadow series and think it would be a much easier sell to an audience, what’s done is done. So with the next movie so blatantly in mind, what happened with this ending!?
Once again they omitted the chaos that ensued after Ender’s victory which results in all the Earthy warfare, but that is all Shadow awesomeness. On top of this, they tweaked things that had no reason being tweaked. Ender finds the Hive Queen egg (with a living Formic) on the same planet on which he was commanding the final battle. What?! How did IF miss this?!?
“Hey, we did a sweep of the planet right? Even that structure right outside the window? No? Don’t worry about it, we got those Buggers.”
This is one of those instances where the audience was assumed to be too stupid to understand an ending. Instead of giving us a proper set up, everything is horrendously oversimplified then stretched to try and explain things that can be left to wonder. I may be over exaggerating. If you are planning the next movie though, leave some things to be discovered there.
The scenes just preceding that debacle of an ending aren’t too great either. The movie just hits a weird tone as soon as the Formic home world is destroyed. It almost felt as though you are holding your breath until the credits start to roll. The reaction of the high ranking officers is simply ridiculous. Just a scene beforehand, Rackhem, fighting tears for his lost comrades, is berating Ender for such a careless mistake in the “game.” Cut to the most epic moment in human history, Rackhem and the rest of the suits are supposedly awestruck but just come off as devoid of emotion.
With all of that said, the bulk of the movie was pretty good. The visuals were great, and I can’t wait to reread the series with new images to flesh out my imagination. The actor portraying Ender had a pretty sexy performance. He sold that youthfulness that really sets the tone for what the IF was controversially conducting. What really shocked me was the cast of students. They were children! With movies always bumping up the age of most roles, I was pleasantly surprised with the adolescent array we were given.
There were a lot of tiny things that I enjoyed as well: the mind game, Bonzo’s performance, the battle school environment, and other inconsequential tidbits. It is a fun movie that is worth checking out. I highly recommend reading the book either way. Then reading Ender’s Shadow and joining me in my Team Bean fan club.