Ender's Game: Reviewed by DzyMsLizzy

Harrison Ford stars as Hyrum Graff in Ender's Game
Harrison Ford stars as Hyrum Graff in Ender's Game | Source

A Surprising Film

This was a movie my husband wanted to watch, and I wasn't sure it was exactly my type of movie. However, I was surprisingly drawn into the story, and enjoyed it quite thoroughly.

I do like the Sci-Fi genre, but I do not like blood guts and gore, such as are seen in many Sci-Fi horror movies such as "Alien."

No worries. There is none of that in this movie at all. It carries a rating of PG-13, probably because of some strong language here and there.

Ender's Game is based upon the book of the same name by Orson Scott Card, published in 1994.

Ender's Game Character Development

The character development is well done; you get a good sense of who these people are and what they are like, even though the scenes giving that background are fairly brief. That is the mark of strong acting and good writing and directing--to be able to define a character with minimal narrative and no distraction from the progression of the story line. The character development is written into the action.

It is nearly impossible to review this movie without some level of spoilers, so be warned; following is a brief synopsis of the storyline and general plot. If you don't want even that much advance information on the story, stop reading now.

However, I promise not to spoil the ending, so read on if you're curious.

The Action

The story takes place at some unspecified time in the future, and features a young boy, Ender Wiggin, who is a masterful player of video games.

Earth is under threat from some horrific alien race that we've battled in the past, and suffered badly. It is decided that the quick minds of youngsters who grew up with video games present our best option for the new battle tactics against a perceived new threat from these same aliens.

The Recruits

Off-Earth, in a space station, is the training ground where the recruits are taken to train. Physical training is intense, and there is the usual hazing of the newcomers, as well as old-school military drill sergeants who are "in your face" and demanding, "Drop and give me 20!" at the least provocation.

Advancement through the ranks seems very rapid, but one has to allow for the usual Hollywood time compression device, so it is unlikely quite as nearly instantaneous as the movie makes it seem.

That's a typical style used to show passage of time, and it requires what is called "willing suspension of disbelief" on the part of the audience. If you buy into the story, and are entranced by the concept and the special effects, then you are willing to overlook what seem like incongruities in the timeline.

Asa Butterfield stars as the young hero in Ender's Game
Asa Butterfield stars as the young hero in Ender's Game | Source

The Training and Environment

In addition to the physical training, there are numerous video-game style simulations in which the recruits practice daily. Some of these games have the ability to allow thought control, so that reaction inside the game is as fast as the thought about the action to take.

There is also a physical training game that takes place in a zero-gravity part of the space station. It is sort of like a space-going paintball game, except that a hit temporarily immobilizes the part of the body that is hit, but is apparently painless. The new recruits are somewhat amused by this.

The game strategy is a bit like a cross between paintball and football,played while sailing through a zero-G environment.

Ender's Game Cast of Main Characters

Character
Actor/Actress
Ender Wiggin
Asa Butterfield
Hyrum Graff
Harrison Ford
Petra Arkanian
Hailee Steinfeld
Valentine Wiggin
Abigail Breslin
Mazer Rackham
Ben Kingsley
Bonzo
Moises Arias
Bean
Aramis Knight
Major Gwen Anderson
Viola Davis
Peter Wiggin
Jimmy Pinchack
Sergeant Dap
Nonso Anozie
Fly Molo
Brandon Soo Hoo

Have you heard of any of these actors besides Harrison Ford?

  • No, none of them
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  • Yes, a few
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The Movie Trailer

Special Effects

The special effects in this movie are astounding, from the command display screens to the simulated battle scenes to the zero-G arena.

The transitions between the actors' actions and the simulations are virtually seamless, and it is hard to tell where real acting ends and computer-generated graphics take over. That is the mark of an engaging film, and contributes greatly to that "willing suspension of disbelief" mentioned earlier.

Surprisingly, this is an independent film, not produced by one of the major studios. The production is by a partnership between Oddlot Entertainment, Summit/Lionsgate and Digital Domain 3.0.

Digital Domain, or DD, is responsible for the film's amazing special effects. You can read more about that in detail here.

Other Information

Release Date
November 1, 2013
Classification
Sci-Fi Action Thriller
Rating
PG-13
DVD Release Date
February 11, 2014

The End of the Movie

As promised, no spoilers. I won't tell you how it ends.

I will say only this: it is definitely set up for a sequel. That should come as no surprise, since the author of the book on which this movie is based also wrote a 4-part series featuring this character.

It is a very enjoyable movie, and I recommend it--which I was not sure would be the case before I watched it. Memo to self: don't be so hasty to make up your mind about a movie you haven't yet seen!

More by this Author


27 comments

Rebecca Furtado profile image

Rebecca Furtado 2 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

This was a very helpful movie review. Something I probably would watch with my son's in their early 20's. Shared.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I loved Ender's Game. It was so empowering, especially for children.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I had not heard of this previously. I appreciated the review ... and thanks for not spoiling anything!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ grand old lady--It was a good movie, wasn't it? The blend of compassion and standing up for oneself against a bully is empowering, I agree.

@ FlourishAnyway--Thanks--I'm glad you liked the review. I don't like spoilers, and will never spoil the ending in any of my reviews. In fact, I had to deny one comment because the commenter gave away the ending! Can't have that going on when I promised no spoilers! ;-)


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

I loved the book yet still have not seen the movie. I will soon though. Thank you for the review. Jamie


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello there jhamann,

Oh, it is a good movie. When you see it, please stop back and let us know how well you think the movie followed the book (but without spoilers or end-scene comparisons, please). I did not know it had been a book first, so I've not read the book. LOL


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

Great review, now I want to see it and know what we'll be renting this weekend. Sounds right up my husband's alley. I'm pretty sure my daughter read the book when she was a teen, I'll have to ask her when she comes around. Thanks!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi WiccanSage--

Thanks--I'm glad you liked my review. I'm sure you'll enjoy the movie--it's quite a trip.


Torrs13 profile image

Torrs13 2 years ago from California

I will have to check it out! I wasn't sure how I felt about the trailer after seeing it, but after reading your review, it seems to be worth watching.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Torrs13,

Thanks very much. I'm glad you liked the review, and I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I did.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I haven't heard of it, but I like about anything with Harrison Ford. Great review!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thanks, Victoria Lynn! Glad you liked this review--I think you'll like the movie if you like Harrison Ford--he's a major player.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

This sounds like my kind of film lizzy! I love sci fi type films so its definitely one to watch out for, great review!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thanks Nell!

You can get the DVD now--it's already released to that format, so no waiting!

;-)

I hope you enjoy the film!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

We saw this movie and I was pleasantly surprised. It really was quite good, and I agree with your entire review which, by the way, is well-written.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, billybuc--

It was a good movie. We got the DVD, so we can watch it again any time. Thanks much for the compliment; glad you liked my review.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Really good review! I haven't seen this movie, but your review has piqued my interest. I am not a sci-fi fan, but this does sound interesting. I do like Harrison Ford and his movies are usually pretty good. I enjoyed reading this and I 'won't judge a book by its cover.'


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thank you, suzettenaples! I'm delighted you liked my review, and I do hope you enjoy the movie as much. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A wonderful review and thanks for sharing Lizzy.

Eddy.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, Eddy!

I'd most pleased that you liked my review! Thanks so very much for stopping by and your kind words! ;-)


Christa Swope profile image

Christa Swope 2 years ago

Great hub!


jynsling profile image

jynsling 2 years ago from sydney

I saw the movie and was pleased it did not have gore and dark themes like Alien and the clones of sci-fi movies after that. It was good Ender felt sorrow for the lives lost, both on the enemy and compatriots. What was new was that children were trained because of their minds. I think that is something the real world needs to learn.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ Christa Swope--Thank you very much. I'm glad you liked my review.

@ jynsling--Thank you for your comment. I agree, there is too much graphic gore in many movies. There is nothing left to the viewer's imagination. This movie was a refreshing change from that tendency.


cfin profile image

cfin 2 years ago from The World we live in

I've heard of Ben Kingsley. This movie was quite good but lacked in the "epic" department. I 'm not sure what was missing but it was something. I also guessed the ending, so that didn't help. (Twas the most outrageous guess too.)


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, cfin;

I agree--it is not what I'd call an "epic" film--but it does fit my criteria for good entertainment, even if some things are 'guessable.' ;-) Not having read the books, I could not make a comparison thereto.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your perspective.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 21 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Great review here, MsD. Saw this one recently and was really taken aback by the intensity of the story and the moral implications of the decisions within the film. I loved it but it may be a while before I want to watch it again. It's one of those kind that packs a wallop. The kid was good in his role. He reminds me of Harry Potter in a small way.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 21 months ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi there, Peg!

Yes, you're right; there was a certain "Potteresque" quality to the kid in this film. I'd not thought of it that way before.

Glad you enjoyed my review, and I agree, it is something of a modern version of the old morality plays.

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