I have been waiting 20 years for Ender's Game, one of my favorite books of all time, to be made into a movie. I just saw it today and was seriously disappointed.
First of all, Ender is 6 feet tall? In the book the Salamander's joke was that he could walk between Bonzo's legs without touching his balls. And why was he older at the beginning of the movie than he was at the end of the book?
Second? Bonzo is a midget? One of the most powerful moments from the book, where Ender is facing imminent death at the hands of a much older and larger boy, in the movie is a bigger kid (Ender) killing (maybe) a smaller kid by the most cliche of hollywood accidents?!
The movie says they need children because they learn complicated things so much faster than adults. But they appear to rush him through training in seemingly a few months.
The speed at which the movie went completely lost the struggles that Ender went through in battle school and command school. Other than him having a little whine session to Graf, there was no indication in the movie that they were being worked hard at all.
Speaking of whining, I am certain the Ender character from the movie was an entirely different person from the book just as Dap, Anderson, Petra, and others bore no resemblance to their print character.
They seemed wedded to a lot of the dialogue from the book without actually making sure the story was there to make it mean anything. Bean meaningfully turning to Ender to say "The enemy's gate is down" without ever making that phrase mean anything to the audience.
Other things they changed for no reason I could decipher. The whole purpose of the Giant's drink and the mind game, for example.
The flight in the game room was so slow and unimpressive.
Ender dual-wielded pistols and did a bunch of flipping and the tired spinning with both arms out shooting everyone is sight. A scene from every bad action movie in the last 20 years. *gag* I hate Hollywood for that.
Silly though it may be, I absolutely hate that the word "bugger" did not make one appearance even though I know OSC has been trying to scour it from his books for years. As they say in a hollywood masterpiece, Joe Dirt: "Don't try to church it up, son".
As I said, I have wanted to see Ender's game as a movie for a long time. I wanted to like this so much. I spent the first half of the movie trying to talk myself into liking it, but I couldn't.
They had a real challenge. At the same time I wished for Ender's game to hit the bigscreen I wondered how they would pull it off given that 80% of the book is in Ender's head. In some ways they did better than I thought they would. There were some impressive visuals and Asa Butterfield, though far too large, put on a pretty impressive performance with the exception of the argument with Graf, which didn't fit Ender's character anyway.
Given what I saw I think their biggest issue was that they were in such a rush to hit all the major story points in two hours, that they missed all the depth. Ender did most of the things he did in the book, but I didn't feel like it meant anything. I think if they had made two movies, with the first covering battle school and the second covering command school, and if they had made some better casting choices, they really could have had something here.
Maybe somebody will make a reboot in another 20 years?
Silver 2005 Rocky Mountain Edition TJ
D30/D44 3.73, 6MT, 4.0L