Game Over for Ender’s Game

Lionsgate release Ender’s Game hit theaters this weekend.  Even though I had never read the book, I was excited to see this film.  My excitement didn’t last.

Ender’s Game tells the story of Ender Wiggins, a brilliant child who is recruited by the International Military to save Earth from a gigantic intellectually superior bug invasion.

Great premise, bad execution.

The film is loaded with great talent…Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Benenders-game-movie-adaptation-poster_(1)webKingsley, Abigail Breslin, and Hailee Steinfeld.  And as great as their performances are, there is only so much you can do with the source material.  The story seemed flat and unrealistic.  I’ve been told that in the book, the story takes place over many years as the main character of Ender grows and is heavy on explaining what goes on in his head.  The film made it seem as though this child goes from elementary school, to command school, to battle school, to saving the planet…in a matter of a few weeks.  The film is dialog heavy with very little action.  There is no arc for the main character, Ender, and I did not feel as though the film made me care about him or any other character.  Granted, if I had read the book then maybe I would have understood the motivation behind the characters.  But a film should be able to stand on its own.  Unfortunately, this one did not.

The film presents many moral questions that are important for all of us to think about.  Is war the answer?  Is pre-emptive war morally sound?  Are child soldiers okay?  Do the ends justify the means?  All great questions, but it felt like they were thrown into the film in the last 15 minutes with no real hint at what the answers might be.

If your children see this film, it would certainly be a good opportunity to discuss these questions with them.  However, with a PG-13 rating, mostly for violence, parents should decide if this is even appropriate for their children.

If you are a fan of the book, you might want to see it but be warned you may be disappointed.  If you are not a fan of the book, I would suggest skipping this one.