Go/No-Go: Ender’s Game

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. On the launchpad today: Ender’s Game

TELMU Nanci: It’s hard to talk about the film adaptation of Ender’s Game without mentioning Orson Scott Card being a bigot. To state for the record, I do not agree with Card’s personal views, and in fact find them to be reprehensible.

That being said, I absolutely love the book Ender’s Game (and even more the sequel, Speaker for the Dead), and knew I was going to see the movie no matter what.

It’s a pretty faithful adaptation, despite keeping Ender the same age throughout and cutting out some major subplots. (Which is understandable given the constraints of film.) At times it might be too faithful. I thought the first fifteen minutes could have been cut/rearranged, and would have liked more scenes at Battle School. This is one movie I think would have benefitted from being longer.

The cast is great, and A+ to the diversity. It really feels like the International Fleet, not the White American Fleet, and feels completely real (just several hundred years in the future).

One of my favorite things about the book is that from the outside it seems like a standard military science fiction story. But it’s really a lot deeper than that, going into ideas about understanding the enemy and using children in wartime. The movie keeps these philosophical arguments for the most part, although there’s no way the film could explore them as well as the book.

I was disappointed with the ending, but not enough to make me not recommend the movie. The scenes in the Battle Room are a visual delight and with the price of admission alone. (All of the visual effects are great, actually.)

So taking into account the controversy with Orson Scott Card, some pacing issues, and a subpar ending, I give Ender’s Game a Go.

CAPCOM Brian’s: Nanci has pretty much covered everything I’d want to say. I don’t for a moment agree with Card’s personal views that he has made well known. Because of that, I’m not going to tell anyone that doesn’t want to see this film because of Card to change their mind. That’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

For the film itself, I think this was an example of why you can’t just straight adapt a book. Prose fiction and film are not the same thing, and Ender’s Game could have afforded to be significantly LESS faithful to the source material. The pacing would have been dramatically improved had the first fifteen to twenty minutes been axed from the movie. More time at Battle School and Command School would have been great because it would have given us more of a chance to get inside Ender’s head and would have given us more time with the supporting cast.

Like Nanci said, the casting was great. This was a film that actually called for Ornery Harrison Ford. The supporting cast was excellent, especially given their ages. What may be lost in this film, sadly, is just how diverse it is.

Visually the film is stunning. I’ve tried to imagine what Battle School and the Battle Room look like in my head for years, and the instant I saw it on screen I knew the film adaptation at least got that right. Sadly the pacing issues come back here because I wanted to see so much MORE of the Battle Room. It could have used one more sequence before the film moved on to the next plot point.

And to echo Nanci again, the ending was rushed. It was functional, but felt really tacked on. The pacing issues never felt more evident as they did in the last ten minutes.

In all this was a mixed bag. It was visually stunning, but poorly paced. Well acted, but too faithful to the source material. It’s the kind of film that definitely has earned it’s middling score on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes. All of that in consideration, I’ll give Ender’s Game a Go because it is entertaining science fiction on the silver screen. It’s just not as deep and well executed as we all hoped out would be.

Flight Director’s Verdict: Ender’s Game is a tentative GO.


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