Posted November 18, 2013 by in Awesome Books

Ender’s Game Movie Review

Ender's Game Film

The Ender’s Game Movie. After almost thirty years of anticipation and false hope, the movie has finally hit the big screen. I didn’t make it to see the film the first week it opened, but I did manage to cajole a buddy into shelling out the $9.50 to see it with me last week. Yes, I complained and shook my fist while yelling, “in my day, a movie cost $3.50. This is some price inflation insanity, dagnabbit!” but, ultimately, it was $9.50 well spent.

ender's game book poster

If you’ve never read the novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, I highly recommend you skip on over to the review I wrote for the book earlier this year. Books > Movies always, so you’ll want to read the book before catching it on big screen! The basic premise of the story is that a six-year-old boy is being trained in military school to help lead the world in a battle against an alien invasion. The training is intense, both psychologically and physically, but the enemy is just as dangerous.

Let’s be honest. Reviews of the film were pretty mixed. It’s difficult to take a 324-page adult science fiction novel (it’s been cross-marketed to young adults) with different subplots and variations on political intrigue and whittle it down to a single two-hour movie. The story on the screen is a visual tale, not a textual one, so some things didn’t really work. For example, the subplot of Valentine and Peter as Locke and Demosthenes is left out of the movie entirely.

However, what was left in the script was pretty incredible. I was excited to see the Battle Room scenes come to life, and they did not disappoint – I only wish there had been more of them! Ender’s leadership in the Battle Room, including his after-hours open practice sessions, were such a huge part of his development in the book. However, there clearly was not time or need to go into this development any further. Instead, the movie focuses on Major Anderson and Colonel Graff’s manipulations of the boy and strategic decisions regarding his preparedness for the task at hand. The film concludes with its famous twist ending (it was pretty darn awesome to see how the film imagines it) and a rather awkward denouement that leads me to believe the filmmakers are aware that future books in the series might not make profitable screen adaptations. 

Overall, I was pleased by the movie. I’m not picky about my book-to-movie adaptations. The movies just fill in stunning visuals for my own mental file folder of the novel, and I take them as they are. One thing I was really impressed with in this particular film was the racial and ethnic diversity of the cast. I also felt that Hailee Steinfeld as Petra brought so much life to her role, more than Orson Scott Card wrote for her in the book.

The battle room scenes alone make this a good pick for a trip to the movie theater rather than playing “I’ll wait to watch it on Netflix.” Though it wasn’t a perfect adaptation, Ender’s Game earns a solid four out of five stars. Not too shabby.

Ender’s Game is just one of MANY YA Books hitting the big screen this year. Check out our article on YA Books to Movies for more information about other books you’ll want to read before you see the movie!

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Former middle school teacher and school librarian, current doctoral student in education. Reader of all things young adult. I'm particularly fond of dystopian societies, sassy female protagonists, and clever dialogue. I can often be found asleep with a book on my face. Check out all my articles.