Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

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

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Keeper Of Lost Causes, The
3 Star Empire Rating
If I Stay
2 Star Empire Rating
Let's Be Cops
3 Star Empire Rating
Obvious Child
4 Star Empire Rating
Million Dollar Arm
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating

Ender's Game
Star Wargames


submit to reddit


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
Browse more images »

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

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Ender's Game
Empire Star Rating

RE: So what?

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? ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 18:48, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I started this because of the usual kind of comment you get in these threads, a feeling that this film deserves an automatic high score simply because it's not a Marvel film. If that kind of commentary isn't seen as a problem in this thread, then it shouldn't be a problem to have a commentary about the problems that come with this film being a success. As I've already stated, I don't think Card's views impact on the quality of the film. But the idea that some people wouldn't want to give him mo... More

Posted by rawlinson at 18:46, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

This thread is totally going to do a Polanski. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 18:27, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson I haven't seen Morning Glory, at least not that I remember. Is it honestly worth checking out or will I want to hit you? don't mean to seem like I'm hating Ford, btw. I think he's given some good performances and there's some films like Raiders, Blade Runner that I would class as really strong films. But I think he's been involved with more films that are pretty shit than ones that are pretty good. lease check it out - I want you to hit him! he thread generally? I think... More

Posted by elab49 at 18:25, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson So where should his views be discussed? assume he has a website of his own? Or he trends on social media? If I wanted to challenge those views and those who share them, that's where I'd be heading. On here, I'd prefer to talk about the film. But I guess that's just me... L: rawlinson If the film was a success then no doubt it would increase sales of the books and a demand for adaptations of the sequels. So whether people want to give money to someone like Car... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 18:23, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: MonsterCat I think it's a funny film but as we all know you're incapable of feeling joy. :D] The writer doesn't have a great pedigree, but I'll chuck it on Lovefilm. And if it's shit I'll nominate something in AHoF to annoy you. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 18:16, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson I haven't seen Morning Glory, at least not that I remember. Is it honestly worth checking out or will I want to hit you? /quote] If nothing else it's worth watching for Ford and Diane Keaton flinging barbs at each other. I think it's a funny film but as we all know you're incapable of feeling joy. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 18:13, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I haven't seen Morning Glory, at least not that I remember. Is it honestly worth checking out or will I want to hit you? don't mean to seem like I'm hating Ford, btw. I think he's given some good performances and there's some films like Raiders, Blade Runner that I would class as really strong films. But I think he's been involved with more films that are pretty shit than ones that are pretty good. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 18:10, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson I'm even more curious about why Harrison Ford is still seen as such a great selling point, when was the last time he was in a genuinely good film? The Fugitive? think Morning Glory is a good and fun film. And not only because you get to see Rachel McAdams' beautiful backside. Ford is genuinely funny and spry in it. EDIT - I mean the film, not McAdams' splendid ass. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 18:08, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: Dr Lenera L: dseys L: rawlinson L: Belisarius0365 I thought I read this book when I was a teenager, but if I did it must be the only book I've ever read that I can't remember the plot, or even what it was about. But, more to the point, WHO CARES if the author doesn't approve of Gay Marriage? Marriage is a religious sacrament, so by religious rules you can't get married if you're gay. But if you're religious, then you shouldn't be getting married if you're gay... More

Posted by sanchia at 18:03, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I can barely even remember Indy 4 these days. I didn't have the "oh fuck off" reaction I had to War Horse, so it's probably far from Spielberg's worst work. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 18:03, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

He hasn't even been in anything successful though, I like Indy 4, I'm insane like that, but the reception to that thing was harsh. Oh, 42 got a good response. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 17:53, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I haven't watched it in a long time, but I have memories of it being a lot of fun. If you're asking me for a genuinely great film, looking at his filmography then I'd have to go all the way back to Apocalypse Now. The three films of his that I like best, he's actually barely in. ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 17:51, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

Good, surely you mean successful? ... More

Posted by Deviation at 17:47, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I'm even more curious about why Harrison Ford is still seen as such a great selling point, when was the last time he was in a genuinely good film? The Fugitive? ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 17:44, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

I'm more curious at how Ben Kingsley gets possibly cast in every ethnic role possible. The man has been Russian, Jewish, Persian, Gujarati, and now his greatest challenge, a half-Maori. k, not every role possible. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 17:40, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: Dr Lenera L: dseys L: rawlinson L: Belisarius0365 I thought I read this book when I was a teenager, but if I did it must be the only book I've ever read that I can't remember the plot, or even what it was about. But, more to the point, WHO CARES if the author doesn't approve of Gay Marriage? Marriage is a religious sacrament, so by religious rules you can't get married if you're gay. But if you're religious, then you shouldn't be getting married if you're gay... More

Posted by rawlinson at 17:06, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

Before this thread becomes overwhelmed by a tit for tat debate over Card's politics & the whole concept of homosexuality. I think it's important to remember to separate the film from the creator of the source material which it bases itself upon . Contrary to some of the lukewarm responses in the thread, the film does have merit and things worth talking about. So it'd be a shame if that got jettisoned onto the sidelines in favour of a "discussion" that even mainstream society struggles to accept... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 16:53, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: dseys L: rawlinson L: Belisarius0365 I thought I read this book when I was a teenager, but if I did it must be the only book I've ever read that I can't remember the plot, or even what it was about. But, more to the point, WHO CARES if the author doesn't approve of Gay Marriage? Marriage is a religious sacrament, so by religious rules you can't get married if you're gay. But if you're religious, then you shouldn't be getting married if you're gay, anyway...kind of a c... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 16:52, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

And that's not to mention that he insulted mentally ill people by suggesting that anyone who speaks out against homophobia is inferring that people who oppose homosexuality and gay marriage are mentally ill. Orson Scott Cunt is a scumbag who invents these bizarre theories about homosexuality to give some credence to his prejudices. Christ, if I was the producer behind Ender's Game I'd be like: "Oh, for fuck's sake, he's killing us. We based our film on the novel of a prejudiced piece of sh... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 15:39, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: dseys I'm tired of these stupid polemics. 'm tired of people trying to defend hateful bigots by pretending it's not that important. you to call him (a person that you don't know) "a repulsive little shit"?'m basing my opinion of him on his own words. one doesn't agree with you on a few topics, does it give him the right to call you that way? f those topics include wanting to criminalise homosexuality, or deny them the same rights as anyone else, or claiming that gay ... More

Posted by rawlinson at 13:45, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: dseys I'm tired of these stupid polemics. Who are you to call him (a person that you don't know) "a repulsive little shit"? If someone doesn't agree with you on a few topics, does it give him the right to call you that way? I'm sure there exists someone that may find you "narrow-minded" about something. Does it make you a narrow-minded person? This notion is purely subjective. I'm liberally thinking that everybody must be free to think WHATEVER he wants, without risking his whole ca... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 12:04, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: dseys Political-correctness is dangerous for a healthy, democratic debate. o is bigotry. ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 12:03, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: So what?

L: rawlinson L: Belisarius0365 I thought I read this book when I was a teenager, but if I did it must be the only book I've ever read that I can't remember the plot, or even what it was about. But, more to the point, WHO CARES if the author doesn't approve of Gay Marriage? Marriage is a religious sacrament, so by religious rules you can't get married if you're gay. But if you're religious, then you shouldn't be getting married if you're gay, anyway...kind of a catch 22. e... More

Posted by dseys at 11:26, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Ender's Game

I was bored to tears. It's so tedious to watch scene after scene just shoot by at lightspeed, without allowing us the chance to get to know about the characters, and then be expected to care about anything that happens to them throughout the movie. Great special effects, a likeable cast, and a really shocking and thought provoking ending that (as someone who hasn't read the source material) took me by surprise, but in all honesty I was bored to the point that I nearly walked out. 2 s... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 01:12, 27 October 2013 | Report This Post


Previous pageMore user comments

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Gamescom 2014: The 10 Most Exciting Games
Zombies! Guns! Tombs! Sheep! Watch the trailers right here...

Who Is Mack Bolan? Your Guide To Cinema's New Action Man
As Bradley Cooper lines up to star as the hero, here's your handy guide to his story so far

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)