Ender’s Game comes out tomorrow, so I just wanted to catch you before you all ran out to see it and let you know not to bother. I mean if you’re not doing anything else and you’re dead set on seeing it, but if you have anything remotely better to do, you might as well sit this one out.
I saw a screener for it last night and it definitely wasn’t bad, per se, but it’s nothing to write home about. And since writing home probably doesn’t cost you $13, I think you can logically infer that I don’t recommend anybody paying to see it in theaters, either.
Like I said, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, aside from Orson Scott Card‘s insanely homophobic attitudes, of course. The acting is fine, the sets are impressive, the storyline is accurate to the book, and you can tell that massive amounts of money were thrown at the production. But by and large, it’s pretty ‘meh’. I was curious to see it because I’d read the book, but if you haven’t, I’m not sure that there’s much point. The story is the best part of Ender’s Game, and since there isn’t enough time in the movie to do it justice (the book covers about five years), it clips along with crisp action but not stakes.
Grueling life-and-death experiences are transformed into momentary obstacles, brilliant strategic planning is condensed down into one or two three-minute long battle scenes, and problematic relationships are distilled down to ‘complicated’ instead of ever addressed. In fact, the only element of the movie that wasn’t shrunk down to bite size was the sexual tension between Ender, played by Asa Butterfield, and Petra, played by Hailee Steinfeld. That we got to see lots of, even as other relationships were simplified down for time’s sake.
And again, I want to make clear that it wasn’t bad, by any means. If you really liked the book, feel free to go see it. I’m sure there’s nothing I can say that’s going to convince you not to. It’s just that if you want to make a story like this into a movie, you have to give me a pretty compelling reason to go out of my way to see it in theaters instead of just reading the book. And in this case, despite casting big names like Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, and Viola Davis, the studio didn’t do a good job of improving on the book.
And in case you needed any more proof of that, it seems like the studio actually agrees with me. Let me ask you this — have you seen any trailers for Ender’s Game at other movies? Or have there been ads for it airing during popular programming at night? Have any of the movie’s stars been doing the talk show circuit? Nope, not really. Not that much at all, because somebody somewhere who’s far more important than I am to this movie came to the same conclusion that I did: it’s not all that.