So overall, here are my thoughts. I enjoyed Ender’s Game more than I expected. I was really not having high hopes. I just recently read both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow the past year. And had concern that the film would be a bubble gumball take like Starship Troopers.
First the movie deviates from the book in a number of places. Some of which I feel were done wisely, and others not so wisely.
Characters from various interactions and platoons are lumped together in one platoon. And I feel this worked. It simplified things but did not take away from the story in abbreviated form.
I was glad the included Ender’s siblings. But feel the sadistic nature of his brother could of been emphasized further. But the aspect of the books political element with the siblings was completely cut. And I think that was a wise move as well. It is extraneous to the core plot.
A few issues I have are similar to those highlighted in some reviews. That the ostracization of Ender is extremely brief and I think more needed to be done to focus on that. We leap to quickly into the “We embrace and are loyal to Ender” mode of the story, rather than the turbulence that had to be endured before hand.
Very Minor spoiler – there is a scene where Ender is ordered to do a set of push ups followed by a second set. I feel they blew it with this scene. If you’ve been to a military academy, you know that second set would have included ALL your fellow cadets being forced to join you. This would of provided a great opportunity to play up the outcast nature. And I think they missed it.
The other issue that is completely lost is the fact that Ender was much younger in the book. And thus smaller than everyone, except for Bean. But in casting, Ender is taller than many of his rivals. Including Bonzo Madrid, whom while muscular was extremely short. It took away the fear that was there in the original book scenario.
With that gripe aside, I loved the casting. First off, amen and thank you for having some ethnicity. Alai actually has dark skin. Oh, and seeing this on IMAX you get to see all the flaws of the actors. Asa Butterfield’s moles. Pimples covered in makeup on other actors. But it makes it a bit more human. And I like that.
In fact that was one of the big plusses of this movie. That the characters cast have imperfections of beauty and look real. (This is one of my gripes with Marvel Agents of SHIELD, other than Colson the other characters are to physically perfect and ultimately forgettable.) Petra, had a unique face and appearance, that slightly off from normal model that we see in Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. I like that Hollywood is actually leaving moles on characters. I also liked the casting of Bean. But really wanted them to just highlight him a bit more. Show him being willing to stand up and question Ender. And being similar in that thoughtful streak. All the more so having recently just read Ender’s Shadow. But I felt he looked fairly close to how I pictured him in my mind.
I do have a few more gripes, with certain aspects threw elements off for me – especially at command school. But I’ll reserve those due to plot details.
That said, I fairly liked how the adjusted the ending a bit. And how all that was done. While not true to the book. I think it was true to the spirit of the book.
So I give Ender’s Game a B-, it was better than I feared. But didn’t hit where it could of. Ironically, I think this would make a way better mini-series on HBO or Netflix where that added depth to develop the characters and stories could be made.