Yesterday my boyfriend and I, along with a bunch of small male children and their parents, went to the movie adaption of Ender’s Game. All in all we both really enjoyed it. The spaceships and battle room, and it stayed close enough to the plot to satisfy me. However, I still whispered a lot of corrections and expanded explanations throughout the movie. The thing was two hours long, but I would have happily spent 6+ hours watching. Everything was so so so condensed. The mind game was played a mere two times, Ender didn’t have any free time practice sessions besides two sessions with Petra, Several of the rigged battle scenarios were combined into a single game, he only was on one team before being given his own, and he didn’t have to rebuild his team after losing all his toon leaders.
I think the cuts made were fairly logical, such as Peter and Valentine’s stories, extra training sessions, the game room, obsessive watching of the vids, and I think the movie was good. However, I can’t help but feeling many levels of complexity were lost. Ender’s isolation wasn’t nearly as extreme, though it was spoken about often, and he never turned those same tactics on Bean. We never learned that Ender got his name from his sister Valentine, or really understood how prominent she was in his life. Graff’s love for Ender, and his own moral struggle were pretty much displaced with a moral vocal dispute between Graff and Anderson. Without the time and internal reflections some of the spoken lines seemed somewhat contrived, driving home points that were reached much more subtly in the book. Despite the awesome graphics a lot of the depth of the story is missing. The book is so good that I can’t even point to my favourite things that are missing, everything from Bean’s special task force, who’s tricks are shown in the movie, but significance is not, and the whole episode with locker security and sending messages from ‘God’ in the first few days, makes the story richer.
All that being said, there were some great things about the movie. I loved the way the world was brought to life, even in the case of the battle room where it is only questionably similar to the description in the book. It’s still spectacular. The battle suits were amazing, and the parts of the mind game that were shown were pretty awesome. I felt like I still enjoyed the condensed version of the story, being able to fill in all the blanks for myself, and get excited about swinging around the battle room on an invisible cord even if it was probably an unnoticeable detail to all the 10 year olds in the audience. I thought the acting was really good too, and the characters were very much as I expected with only a few minor exceptions. The final scenes at command school really made sense the way they were executed, as different as they were from the book, they were really cool to watch.
Unfortunately there were enough changes in the stories that lead me to believe it’s pretty unlikely that any of the 7 companion books will have movie adaptions. They messed up Bean’s timeline by having him in Ender’s launchie class, and Ender ended with a note to Valentine that he was leaving, pretty much making any adaption of Speaker of the Dead out of the question. However, this was still pretty fun.
I have lost count of how many times I’ve read Ender’s Game. I have written three essays (Phil 12, University Entrance, and Phil through Sci Fi in Uni) on Xenocide, the third book in the series. So I hope at the least this movie opened up the story to a new audience.