A brilliant young strategist rises to the top of his class in Battle School while training to defend Earth against hostile aliens intent on exterminating the entire human race in this sci-fi epic based on the celebrated novel. In the not-too-distant future, our planet has come under attack from a malevolent race of aliens known as the Formics. Incredibly, fearless International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) sent them fleeing back into the stars, becoming a living legend in the process. But decorated Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) knows that the Formics will soon return even stronger than they were before, and he's determined to find a new hero who can meet them head on. Enter Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a modest young man with vast untapped potential. Upon being recruited into Battle School, Ender partakes in a grueling series of simulations, effortlessly mastering every challenge presented to him. Celebrated by his peers and respected by his superiors, Ender is quickly promoted to Command School, where the one and only Mazer Rackham provides him with the knowledge and tools needed to save mankind from certain extinction. As the final battle approaches, Ender prepares to embrace his destiny as one of the greatest heroes in the history of planet Earth.~Jason Buchanan
"Ender's World: The making of Ender's Game"
Featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)
"Inside the mind game" featurette (Blu-ray exclusive)
Deleted/extended scenes with optional Audio Commentary by Gavin Hood
I am always one to enjoy a good sci-fi film that isn't of the horror type genre and Ender's Game proved to be just that type. Oh, yes, there were some strange alien creatures, the Formics, but they were basically like giant ant-types that had developed the ability for travel through space, a species which had previously attacked Earth some 50 years previously.
The main focus is on a young teenage boy named Ender Wiggin. He is extremely intelligent but quiet, but is keen on resolving conflicts in such a way that they never happen again. The government finds out about that (they have been training, testing and monitoring the world's youth for a while) and brings him in for special training in the war against these "invading creatures." It should be noted that this is a typical military sense of thinking: "Destroy the invaders even though it has been 50 years since they tried to invade Earth but were defeated and have not attempted another invasion. Eliminate the race so they won't try again."
Ender and a few other teens he has befriended along the way become a special team. They think they are in training, in space and then on an alien planet, to determine a way to stop the invasion. Much of their training is done through computer manipulation but, unknowingly, when their final "test" arrives in which they are being observed by many big-wigs, they are actually in charge of a real invasion. Ender's team wins the battle after which they realize that they had been used, that Earth lives and ships sacrificed in battle were real ships with real people. Ender also realizes that the dreams he had been having recently were actually the ant creatures trying to communicate with him.
Though the movie has a noble ending, it is a bit anti-climatic considering all the action that has been going on throughout.
I Thought this was a very good film about a future society where teenage children are the digital "experts" in waging war against an alien race. Great special effects and imagery. Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley were all good in this film.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
great adaptation, but not enough time
I've seen a lot of complaints that this movie didn't cover every scene, plot twist, character development, etc. in the book. It seems like many reviewers still don't understand just how different novels and movies are as creative media. For movies, time is precious - most movies have only around 2 hours to tell their story - whereas books generally don't face a hard limit on the page count. Moreover, movie are expensive to make whereas books are cheap (basically the author's living expenses and and market campaign).
Looking at Ender's Game as a movie and not just as an adaptation of the book, it actually holds up very well. Asa Butterfield manages to subtly portray both a ruthless and compassionate side to Ender. The rest of the actors generally do a good job bringing their characters to life, which is no small accomplishment give that most of them are kids. Even though the kids are older than their counterparts in the book, they still look, feel, and act like kids. Ender's voice even cracks a bit, like a kid going through puberty. While Ender and Petra do have quite a few scenes together, I was very pleased to see that Hollywood didn't try to insert romance into their relationship.
Gavin Hood, the director, obviously realized that he wasn't filming the book and the script makes some significant but smart changes. The arc of Ender's siblings - Peter and Valentine - is drastically curtailed (even in the book, it was only peripheral to the main plot). More importantly, Ender's character arc isn't quite as exhaustive or exhausted as in the book. I appreciate that Hood implicitly acknowledges that movie Ender hasn't been at Battle School nearly as long as book Ender and the movie doesn't try to cheat and shortcut that experience. Ender's arc feels appropriate for what we see in the movie and going further probably wouldn't have been possible in 2 hours.
Without spoiling anything, I was also impressed that they spent at least some time on the denouement. Not since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King have I felt so glad that a movie took time to give its characters at least some room to experience the fallout of events. Again, it's not the book, but the the essentials of the store are there.
That said, I kept finding myself frustrated that the movie wasn't longer than 2 hours. There were parts that felt rushed or condensed. The beginning in particular has an odd way of introducing Ender's universe to audiences, most of who are not familiar with the book. The first 10-15 minutes are probably more confusing as the movie really throws you into the story pretty quickly. I thought overall the movie was better paced as it progressed, but even later scenes could have used more time to simmer. If anything, I thought the movie included too much from the book and tried to cover too much ground at the risk of not developing the main plot sufficiently. Some important characters, such as Mazer Rackham, just don't leave much of an impression because we don't spend enough time with them.
I almost got the sense that Gavin Hood was forced by the studio to do some last minute editing to shorten the film. I would have thought that Good could have convinced the studio to allow a longer movie given the popularity of the novel, but that extra half hour probably would mean at least one less showing per day in most cinemas. I can only hope we'll see an extended version on DVD.
Overall, this is a well done, if condensed, version of the Ender's Game novel. It's probably much more faithful to the book than most movie adaptations of novels (certainly more so than say the Hobbit). If you go into the movie with an appreciation for the realities of filmmaking, I suspect most fans of the book will enjoy seeing their favorite characters come to life.
There isn't anything too complex about this plot. Earth is at war with an alien species. We both have space travel, so most of this film takes place off-planet. In the future the military has taken videogames even more seriously than it already does. It picks potential pilots, strategists, etc. based on how well kids do at video games. It recruits promising ones to go through academy training. (The Last Starfighter used a similar concept for finding it's best pilots.)
The enemy is superior in most respects, and the adult leaders fear our next battle with them may result in a decisive defeat. We need to find a truly unique strategist who can make the best use of our space fleet as well as a newer weapon we hope the enemy is unprepared for. Of course Ender is the chosen kid.
The adult roles are somewhat lacking in originality, but the special effects are good, the action is fast -paced, and by the end, I found that I liked this film. If you enjoy science fiction (the kind with aliens, space travel/battles, etc.) then you will probably enjoy this film.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
CGI galore – unfortunately, I think, I have never read the book so I don't really know the story line. However it has been highly praised, so I thought I looked into it. It already looked great on Blu-ray, but I have a Samsung 4K Blu-ray player, plus an LG 4K HDR 70 inch television and it certainly looks good. If this movie had been made from scratch, I would say the story is not very believable. Why in the world would you let a preteen be in charge of such a thing – it doesn't quite make sense. But Asa Butterfield is a good actor and he was adorably cute in this one, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I got it because of that. Another reason was that it was under USD17 which I thought was very reasonable for a 4K Blu-ray movie. I would not have gotten this if it still worth USD29 like the rest of them. Honestly as good as it looks, it doesn't look ** that much ** better than a regular Blu-ray on my set. A movie like this is a good showcase of what a 4K Blu-ray player and a 4K HDR television can do. I have seen the movie a couple of times.
get ready for adventure and letting your mind travel to other places from where you are
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Good Blu-ray of a Good Movie
The first part of this review is about the movie only and is an edited version of what I wrote soon after it was released. The second part will be a review of the Blu-ray version.
This past year I became a fan of the Ender's Game books. I read Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Ender in Exile and Speaker for the Dead. The net result was that when I went to the theater the first night the movie was out I was so concerned about how close it would be to the books, etc. that I missed a lot of detail and was not completely excited about it.
Five days later, I went back to see it again. I went with the idea of just enjoying the movie on its own merits. This time, I WAS TOTALY BLOWN AWAY. Gavin Hood (the writer / director) has said that to condense the book into a two hour movie would require that some of the some of the thoughts or dialog in the book would have to be done by the actors through facial expressions, body language etc. This time I was very conscious of these subtleties. I understood the movie much better and even found myself becoming emotionally involved. An example of the intriguing literary / story devices include the bugger's hand being used as a weapon early in the movie and being used to wipe away a tear at the end. Of course, there's the famous line, "The enemy's gate is down." that appears at two critical points in the film.
Asa Butterfield does a really fine job as Ender. He has to supply a lot of those facial expressions and body language that Hood talked about. I found Asa to be an impressive actor in the Merlin series and in Hugo, but I think he was even better here. I was also particularly impressed with Aramis Knight who plays Bean. His kind of friendly, kind of all-knowing smile captures his relationship to Ender. If you’ve read the book Ender’s Shadow, you will understand what I mean.
While a criticism of the movie has involved the “aging up” of the characters compared to the books, actors like Asa, Aramis and others still look young enough to convey the ideas of the young people in war and their ability to think strategically. It really was necessary to use older actors for the movie. While watching the Blu-ray, I was really impressed that particularly Asa and Aramis really do look quite young at times. Furthermore, characters like Ender age several years in the book. This would have been difficult to portray during a reasonable production schedule; however, some of the actors did grow 2 to 3 inches during filming. The costume department had to design outfits like the Battle Room uniforms to "grow" with the actors over the half year required for principle photography.
In the theater, I was impressed with the visual quality of the film. It was “filmed” digitally in high resolution using Red Epic® cameras. I saw the movie both times in IMAX®. Some things were almost too clear. Hopefully the Blu-Ray version will capture much of this detail. The sound in our local IMAX® Theater was almost overwhelming. The picture on the screen was actually shaking at times from the noise of the rockets and explosions. The Blu-ray does NOT disappoint. With a good home theater system, the visuals are great. My wife was afraid the house was going to be damaged by the sound. Sonically this is one of the most potent DVD’s I own.
Lest it appear that I am totally biased in favor of the movie, I feel obliged to point out a few things I find as shortfalls. One scene involves Bean being tied with a rope to execute a special maneuver in the Battle Room. In the Ender books, there is a lot of significance to the rope -- actually a special type of "line" – and how Bean came to possess it. A bit of explanation would have been useful in the movie. Just a few words to indicate that Ender built the raft used in the scene with Valentine would have also been a useful addition. There have been a number of comments that there should have been more time and detail spent in the Battle Room. Personally, I concur with this. By the same token, I understand why people like Orson Scott Card (the author of the books) were concerned that too much time in the Battle Room would be boring to some viewers.
As I have already said, sonically and visually the Blu-ray is extremely good. The “extras” are a real treat. There is a lot of information about the production of the movie, the special effects, the actors, the filming location etc. I particularly enjoyed the “deleted scenes” section. For example: One possible criticism of the movie is that it doesn’t spend enough time exploring Ender’s relationship to his brother Peter. This relationship is important because it gives insight into how Ender views genocide and how far he should go when fighting with others. The scene in question involves Ender saying “good-bye” to his family as he leaves for “Battle School.” In the original scene, there is a dialog between Ender and Peter. This was cut in the final version of the film in order to meet time constraints. I agree with Gavin Hood that this was a tough scene to cut.
I really liked Ender’s Game in the theater and the Blu-ray does an excellent job of conveying the theater experience. My next objective is to watch a second time with the director’s commentary enabled.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Owned for 1 year when reviewed.
Great movie to watch. I am hoping they eventually come out with other movies for the other books in the series. It also comes with the digital copy.