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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Asa Butterfield
Abigail Breslin
Harrison Ford
Hailee Steinfeld
Ben Kingsley
Viola Davis.
Directors
Gavin Hood.
Screenwriters
Gavin Hood.
Running Time
114 minutes

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Ender's Game
Star Wargames


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Plot
Following a devastating alien attack, Earth seeks great leaders to head a space fleet. Gifted children are trained almost from birth. Ender (Butterfield) may be the commander they need — but to find out, Colonel Graff (Ford) will put him through hell.


Review
Ender's Game
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Ender's Game is a very odd novel. Its focus is a six-year-old who is brutalised, and forced into brutality, in order to prove his fitness to become a leader capable of saving the world. Written by Orson Scott Card, nowadays a controversial figure, it’s barely cinematic, a sort of Full Metal Jacket for pre-teens, except the action doesn’t shift to the battlefield until halfway through and our hero is too smart to be indoctrinated. The story ultimately focuses not on war or even wargames, but Ender’s own struggle to reconcile his conscience with his capacity for violence.

No wonder this has taken more than 20 years to adapt. The frequent zero-G scenes in the Battle Room where the child candidates train proved a technical issue for early attempts at adaptation, but the main problem was the violence between children and the dubious morality of Ender himself. Commendably Gavin Hood’s film preserves these elements without becoming horribly grim (partly by making the children older), but can’t quite communicate the nuanced morality of the book.

Asa Butterfield’s Ender is a generally effective combination of childish vulnerability and steely ruthlessness. Harrison Ford’s Colonel Graff repeatedly strips him of comfort and sets him against ever more threatening bullies and challenges to test him to breaking point. It probably takes an actor as charismatic as Ford to get away with it, which he does, barely, despite the more compassionate pleading of Viola Davis’ Anderson.

The film’s problems are dialogue-based; the script never quite explains why these children are so important, especially given that Ben Kingsley’s war hero, Mazer Rackham, is still around. Losing the novel’s Earth-set subplot, focusing on Ender’s siblings, means that we also lose context for both the war effort and for Ender’s deep-seated fear of turning into his sociopathic brother. And there are moments that fail: after a particularly draining war game, Ender and his team stand around as though waiting for dinner rather than reflecting the trauma they’ve just witnessed. The result is a slightly flattened take on a world that Card brought to life.
 


Verdict
It admirably avoids many of the pitfalls of adapting this book, but seems to have lost some of the life and pace as well.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Ender's Game
Empire Star Rating

Not building up to the End'ers'game.

Read my full review on http://straighttelling.co.uk! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TroyPutland at 12:04, 17 September 2014 | Report This Post


Wow

What a massive pile of shit ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 16:21, 21 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Pleasantly surprised by this after some people had really slated it. I thought the progression and pacing of Ender was too quick, but the film held my attention and looked marvelous. The zero-G training sequences were excellent as was the finale both in spectacle and emotional elements. 7/10 ... More

Posted by shool at 14:07, 26 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Not as bad as i was expecting, kids enjoyed (10 & 13) ... More

Posted by SQUATCH at 10:19, 29 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I was so bored with this film I walked out of the cinema half way through. I hadn't read the book and so allowed myself to be guided by some other people's opinions (of the book). I knew within a few minutes I had wasted £8 and made a big mistake....I found the whole concept silly and juvenile and the adult characters were not believable at all, spouting their lines as if wanting to get it over with and get to the paycheck. To me it just seemed like St. Trinians in space. I have read on... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vodkafan at 14:34, 10 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE:

Finally watched this out of curiosity. I'm only going to talk about the film though - while I utterly deplore Card's personal views, I detected no signs of them infecting the film and so feel they have no bearing on a film discussion. If you feel strongly enough to boycott the film, so be it. The film is not great, but I'd say 3* rather than the magazine's rating. As someone else remarked (Dr Lenera, I think) identikit Remote Control soundtracks are becoming increasingly tiresome. I figur... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BelfastBoy at 22:43, 04 May 2014 | Report This Post


Maybe it was because the night I watched this I'd actually watched Captain Phillips beforehand and nothing could actually better that...or was it just awful? I've come to the conclusion that, yes, it was truly awful. There's no need for an actual review here. Thanks ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BennyBoo81 at 11:54, 29 March 2014 | Report This Post


Were you expecting Blade Runner?

What did you expect from a movie about Kids in space killing bugs? This was always going to be a tough film to make, and maybe it shouldnt have. there are too many boxes to tick - perhaps better as a series. It is not a classic, but Hood did a fine job with what he could. Nevertheless, it was great to see Ford in decent role. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Samurai7 at 14:13, 11 February 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

read the book ... More

Posted by Gram Woods at 12:01, 20 January 2014 | Report This Post


I liked it

It did move to fast and a lot was lost because of it but having read the book before I thought it wasn't bad. An extra half hour would have helped a lot, more battle room and simulation room scenes. As it is, it did feel rushed and it was difficult to empathise with anyone. Proper sci-fi though this and deserves more than 2 stars, I give it 7/10(ffs Empire drop the 5 star bollocks!) which would be 3.5 on here but the swines wont let me give a half, so I'll round up rather than down :P ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gram Woods at 11:53, 20 January 2014 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

A commendable sc-fi drama, this serious film offers up some great themes and some grand visuals. ... More

Posted by chang at 09:59, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

Fully disagree. Both Thor 2 and Ender's Game are CGI-loaded sci-fi movies aimed at young people, they can be compared. And Thor 2 is a Marvel post-Avengers sequel, it means that whether it's good or bad it'll have a huge, huge box-office success. I sincerely believe that if someone had made the exact same movie without any well-known characters (let's say a complete new franchise with same plot, same villain and same directing "skills"), it would have been trashed by everybody. ... More

Posted by dseys at 16:22, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

However look at which film performed and which has not done very well and which is considered to have entertained and which is considered to be bland, poorly acted, uninspired and dull. It appears that almost unanimously the latter has been applied to this particular film by the few whom have watched it. Having seen the both they are incomparable in style and plot and you may as well compare Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with The Bourne Identity in that they are very different styles of film and ... More

Posted by sanchia at 21:11, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

L: PhilG1 Not seen Thor 2...dont think I will going off the 1st one... any worse than enders game, can it? not. ep, it can. And it is. Finally saw Ender's Game, didn't particularly liked it but it's not as bad as many would suggest here. Thor 2 on the other hand is a mess from start to finish, which is a shame because Marvel is now one of the most powerful studios on Hollywood, they can do exactly what they want with their movies, so why not dare some originality/creativity inst... More

Posted by dseys at 19:12, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

Complete bore fest. Very frustrated with this film. Clunky dialogue, poor child performances, rubbishy effects. Began to get fed up toward the end just before I realised what was happening. Puzzling ending too. Wasnt surprised to see Gavin Hoods name attached to this. The only thing that redeemed this movie was the fact I went to see Thor 2 in the evening. Dont waste your time ... More

Posted by kumar at 17:05, 12 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

Not seen Thor 2...dont think I will going off the 1st one...cant be any worse than enders game, can it? Surely not. ... More

Posted by PhilG1 at 10:54, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Please make it stop

L: PhilG1 Terrible film...in fact probably the worst I've seen in a long long time, if ever. The story line was childish, the acting wooden, the characters were pathetic, bordering on comical, and the dialogue was like something out of Bill and Ben. Didn't you just describe Thor: The Dark World? ... More

Posted by dseys at 16:07, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Er, I thought it was okay

Its all too rushed,,,too easy,,,,and too boring. Maybe im getting a little old for these films, but i kept asking myself why these snot nosed kids were left to defeat the ants...and the focus on strategy????? spolier his way to beat the ants and the bullies is the same....form a ball and the guy in the middle will be safe...brilliant....1/5...don't waste your money ... More

Posted by No Diggity at 12:44, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Er, I thought it was okay

One thing which can be said. The controversy certainly seemed to boost up the comments level as it appears not many people are watching the film itself. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 08:31, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: sanchia L: AxlReznor L: rawlinson L: matty_b This thread is totally going to do a Polanski. hat's actually a good comparison. How many people here refuse to watch Roman Polanski films? It actually has no impact on their lives, yet they don't want to associate themselves with his work. And that's a subject that's been discussed to death here. Why is that acceptable, yet a discussion about Card's bigotry not acceptable? ossibly because being a bigot and a cunt... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 09:43, 29 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: AxlReznor L: rawlinson L: matty_b This thread is totally going to do a Polanski. hat's actually a good comparison. How many people here refuse to watch Roman Polanski films? It actually has no impact on their lives, yet they don't want to associate themselves with his work. And that's a subject that's been discussed to death here. Why is that acceptable, yet a discussion about Card's bigotry not acceptable? ossibly because being a bigot and a cunt are currently no... More

Posted by sanchia at 18:04, 28 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson L: matty_b This thread is totally going to do a Polanski. hat's actually a good comparison. How many people here refuse to watch Roman Polanski films? It actually has no impact on their lives, yet they don't want to associate themselves with his work. And that's a subject that's been discussed to death here. Why is that acceptable, yet a discussion about Card's bigotry not acceptable? ossibly because being a bigot and a cunt are currently not actually illegal, bu... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 12:36, 28 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

In the near future, a hostile alien race called the Formics have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, Colonel Graff and the International Military are training the best young children in tough military academies. Ender Wiggin is a shy lonely boy who deals with a bully by not only defeating the other boy but beating him viciously so he never bullies him again, winning not jus... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 12:20, 28 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson L: matty_b This thread is totally going to do a Polanski. hat's actually a good comparison. How many people here refuse to watch Roman Polanski films? It actually has no impact on their lives, yet they don't want to associate themselves with his work. And that's a subject that's been discussed to death here. Why is that acceptable, yet a discussion about Card's bigotry not acceptable? I refuse to watch them and tend to have reduced respect for actors who agr... More

Posted by sanchia at 21:10, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

Not as much as Drooch does. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 19:10, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


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