Ender's Game

Yesterday I got to see the movie Ender’s Game. Although quite a bit had to be left out in order to make the story into a regular feature-length film, I felt that what was depicted was fairly true to the original, or at least in keeping with it. The visual effects were impressive and brought to life – and up to date – the things that the novel itself got us to imagine. There are spoilers in what follows.

I liked that Ender articulated so directly his response to Col. Graff’s statement that humanity’s winning was what matters. Ender suggested rather that “How we win matters.”

There was no direct exploration of religion in the film, but there were hints not only in Alai’s saying “assalamu alaikum” and in Mazer Rackham’s statement that he had Maori markings on his face because his father was Maori and this allowed him to “speak for the dead” – a nod to the role that Ender himself takes on in the novel and its sequels.

Of the things that were cut, the omission of the regret of the Formic queen expressed at the end was what I regretted most. It emphasized more clearly that these “buggers” were sentient beings and that Ender saving the species was not merely an expression of his regret, but a result of a very difficult but ultimately successful communication between two species each of which found it hard to believe that there was anything genuinely sentient and worth preserving in the other.

If you saw the movie, did you enjoy it, and how did you feel it rendered the novel upon which it was based?

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  • Bakuman

    Personally, I loved it. Good acting, great visuals, phenominal script. The battle room duel and the ansible battles against the formics were particularly spectacular. It was really top notch.

    If I would change anything, it would be the toning down of Graff. When he loaned Ender Petra during the match where Ender had a player out with a twisted ankle… book Graff would never have done that; his whole thing was never helping Ender in ways like that. But other than things like that, it was excellent.

    And it was nice to have a diverse cast. Viola Davis was great as Andersen, for instance, and the multiracial casting of the students both worked well and was good from a social justice perspective.

  • GRobinson

    I saw it this weekend too and found it to be done very well. For many of the same reasons (the end battle sequence particularly) the producers did capture what we could have only imagined. If I were pressed I’d give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

    {spoiler below}
    It was unfortunate that they had to leave out substantial parts of the text. Granted, it would have caused the movie to end up being 3 hours but it will be hard for them to develop (coherently) a sequel. The characters seemed too old as well, but perhaps both of these complaints are superficial. Western audiences don’t seem to be able to able to handle complex plots and subplots.

    The larger political tones (I think Card is being more political than religious, but I could be wrong) were also largely missed. In the end, after the destruction of the planet there is so much more to be done.

    It has been since middle school since I read Enders Game, but I will find time this holiday to read the Quintet. Thanks for the post.

  • msem

    The battle room scene was exactly as I have pictured it all these years. Minor nits are the telescoping in time of the story and the inclusion of Petra in the final battle. I was a bit disappointed in the ages of the boys, but realize it would be difficult to have an 8-year-old in the part. I believe you should have read the book in order to appreciate the movie–the main plot points and nuances are too subtle.

  • Susan_G1

    I agree that it was true to the book; good parts left out for time purposes, and yes, to know that the “Formic” queen was full of regret would have been a nice addition. But it complicates the good vs. evil (but wasn’t that the whole point?) How will they make Speaker for the Dead without it?

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/100000023960330/ John Pieret

    A lot of people are refusing to see it because of Orson Scott Card’s particularly hateful anti-LGBT bigotry.


    Myself, I’ll wait until it is on cable, where my individual contribution to Card will be minimal.
    What do you think about this James?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath
      • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/100000023960330/ John Pieret

        But, even if he doesn’t have a direct slice of the movie, a smash hit will definitely increase sales of the Ender’s books (as that article notes) far more than if it is a flop.
        No criticism implied. I was just curious.

    • Ambaa

      That’s the one thing that has made me feel reluctant to see it. :( It’s a shame that Card had to do something to stand in the way of his story’s success. Did he think any publicity was good publicity?

  • Ambaa

    Thanks for this review. I have been on the fence about seeing it. I wasn’t able to finish the book, finding it too sad. I’m hoping that a movie version will be easier for me to process.

  • Pseudonym

    I haven’t seen it, but it did occur to me that one thing that a movie of Ender’s Game might do is comment on the modern issue of drone warfare. The practice of war does seem to be becoming more like a video game for at least some of those participating in it, and Ender’s Game (like much good sci fi) predicted that something like that might happen.

    Did it touch on that at all?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      Oh yes, indeed it does, and in more than one way!