My Impressions of Ender's Game

  • Nov 03, 2013 at 7:11 PM
  • Shawn Wildermuth
  • 7 Comments

***INCLUDES SPOILERS TO BOOK AND MOVIE***

Ender’s Game is a book I meant to read. Everyone I know has read it and just loved it. When I heard the movie was coming out, I decided it was time to read it in time to see the movie.

The verdict on the book is that I loved it. The themes were very important to me and I lost some amount of sleep trying to get to the end of some chapters.

Unfortunately, the movie didn’t do it justice. To be clear, I know that a movie’s format limits itself in what you can justifiably do in adapting a book. I understand that. There have been plenty of movies I’ve seen after I read the book that I liked. This wasn’t one of those.

My real problem is that I knew that they needed to shorten some sequences to fit it into a two hour movie and eliminate several subplots, but at the same time they seemed to miss the tone and gravity of the book. (pun not intended)

Renaming the Buggers to the Formix made me realize that there was something very wrong from the start.

Let’s start with Asa Butterfield. He did a great job with the material, but he is too old. All the ‘kids’ were too old. Part of the weight of the book for me was that he was so young when they took him to Battle School. He was six in the book when he started and I believe eleven when he left. Stealing his childhood is an important theme to me. They made it look like it was six weeks of basic training. The fact that Bonzo was smaller than he seemed to exemplify that the children were too old for their parts.

They abbreviated the sequences of the game at Battle school way too much. Part of the story was that he was better than everyone from the start. And that everyone hated him for it. Especially since he was so much younger than the rest of the Battle School. His progression to keep teaching the launchies when he was in Bonzo’s unit was important to me too. It separated him from the rest of the field.

I was also concerned with the way they handled the Bonzo fight. It made it look like he fell accidently. This should have been the second time that Ender killed someone and they didn’t want him to know he was capable of it. This leads to a later reveal about that he is already a killer that pushes forward the story once in Command School.

My impression of the book was this theme that the teachers were changing the rules on him constantly. The daily games, then the twice daily games, then the two teams against one pushed this idea that no matter what he did, they were never satisfied and had to push him further. During this section, he was exhausted (and would be through the end of the book) and this was never explored. They mentioned that sleep deprivation was part of the training, but no one looked tired.

I could go on, but I’ll end with my biggest problem. The “games” at the end lacked the weight of the reveal that he was already fighting the battles because they switched it up to use drones instead of pilots in most of the ships. The loss of 1000 people in the transports was mentioned, but in the last battle the weight of genocide plus the loss of tens of thousands of soldiers gave the gravity. The switch from elation to falling apart in the end wasn’t believable.

Unfortunately, this was Starship Troopers all over again. Hrmph.

If you saw it, do you agree with my disappointment?

 

Comments

Gravatar

Jared Egbert Sunday, November 3, 2013

I do agree with your analysis. I had to watch the movie a second time to appreciate what was accomplished. The first time I watched the movie I was upset because they cut out all the storylines that made the biggest impact on me while reading the book. The second time I went to the movie I took my kids ages 10, 14, 16. I bought my 16 year old the book last year for Christmas and he only read through half the book. After watching the movie he saw how the movie went off script, but he liked the movie and has committed to rereading the book. My other 2 children are excited to read the book now as well. You started you read the book, so if this movie inspires new readers, I see this as a success.
However, they should have made the movie a 2 part series. Part 1 could have been enders training in battle school. Part 2 could have been the battle series to the end. This way they could have included Peter and Valentine's rise to power. The also could have followed Enders training in battle school like the book. Orson Scott Card released a script on Audible that hits the details way better than the movie. Oh well...
Here is the link http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Enders-Game-Alive-The-Full-Cast-Audioplay-Audiobook/B00E3U3IB6?bp_ua=y
I listened to this headed to devintersection and loved it. I recommend listening to this to hear a script that should have been used.

Gravatar

Stephen Chung Sunday, November 3, 2013

Haven't watched the movie (intend to). However, the fact that *real* people in real ships were dying and fighting a real war in his games had the greatest impact on me when I read the book years ago. Turning ships into drones destroyed this emotional impact, but probably gave it a G rating...

Gravatar

Kevin Monday, November 4, 2013

I've probably read the book a couple dozen times. They definitely soft-pedaled the monster that they turned Ender into and that he always had inside him. We want war to be clinical and clean and now we want our war movies the same way.

Gravatar

Rick Monday, November 4, 2013

As a reader of the book as a kid (and again, last month), I loved it. Yes, the battle school sequence felt rushed. I hope there is an extended version with some additional scenes from this. Move was just under 2 hours. Give it another 20 min of battle scene footage and would have been awesome.

I really missed the tactical brilliance of Ender that was portrayed in the book and even the strategy in the 'final exam' that was better explained in Enders Shadow. The first battle school game and the final exam portray more of a brute force attack from Ender.

But, overall, I am pleased with the port to movie. Been a long time coming.

Gravatar

Ken Monday, November 4, 2013

Just wanted to point out that the Buggers are called the Formics in the book.

Gravatar

Shawn Wildermuth Monday, November 4, 2013

Ken,

Sure, but they are call Buggers 99% of the time. They're never called that in the movie.


Leave a Comment

*
*
*