Ender's Game (2013)
This is not a game
Ender's Game is a pretty big thing as far as books go in the sci fi community from what I'm told - and as is usual with these sorts of things (*ahem*Starship Troopers) I've never bothered to read it. Know what that means? I get to enjoy the movie more than all the folks who already know it from reading, because they tend to get hung up on all the differences or inadequacies that I don't even know about! When it comes to movie adaptations, ignorance truly can be bliss. That being said, I like me some science fiction movies, and heard rather mediocre things from those who went to see it (again, it usually takes some goading to get me to want to throw down that 10 dollars on a theater ticket) - so perfect case of it showing up in the Netflix queue at last. Will Ender make the movie a game to remember, or should the game end after it's first fielding?
This main plot element (which as happened in the past, by the way) is going to get drilled into your head so much during this movie that I almost feel bad even talking about it here, but a guy has to do what a guy has to do. Aliens arrive to Earth, and are met in the only way the citizens of Earth know how to meet anything from outer space - a counterattack. We aren't told who necessarily struck the first blow, but we know that tens of millions of innocent people died from the invasion, and the only reason the world still exists is from one brave leader who stopped the invasion with a single plane. To make sure such a thing never happened again, Earth decided the best option was to take younger kids and start training them to be gods of war able to stop the aggressors before they have a chance to even try again.
This is where Ender comes in, a third child from one family trying to raise his way through the ranks after both his siblings failed for opposite sides of the violence spectrum (a brother who was too quick to violence, and a sister who was too compassionate). Theres a lot of pressure riding on him to excel, particularly when one of his superiors decides that he's the one fated to save human kind. Hardships ensue, including a bunch of tests conducted by the superior in rather shady ways (such as an expulsion to see how he would react), but it could be said that lessons are learned in one way or another.
A lot of rungs are climbed, and we get to see various stages of training for Ender, and along the way there always seems to be at least one high-strung bully to reinforce the idea that it's essentially a bunch of kids in school, albeit military "save the entire human race by wiping out the aliens before they come back and finish what they tried to do so long ago" school. In the long run of things, it's a lot of trials by fire until Ender can make his way to the Captain training, where he can be trained to command the entire military fleet for the fated final goal of all these kids undergoing training.
The main play of this movie seems to be morals. Yes, it's got some sweet special effects and some pretty decent to good actors, but that main "what's right or wrong" or just how far is too far is always there. Granted, it's pretty obvious what a lot of the build up is leading to most of the time, yet they still do a pretty good job of pulling the occasional wool over the eyes on events. It's nice to see that the kids are still to some extent kids, even though all this rigorous training and the likes is going on though, as it helps ground some of the movie in plausibility.
There might have been music in this movie, I really don't recall. Actors do a fine job with their lines as far as the dialogue goes, and effect work also rings pretty well, but music is either really forgettable (and I've already forgotten it) or just there to help along the scenes in the background. In that respect, I would have to say that the movie is definitely more visual based - and it does do quite a wonderful job in that respect. Things are pretty crisp or alien as called for, and the only time anything looks exceptionally gamey or low-end quality wise is in fact in the "mind game" Ender plays at times.
For as many action scenes as there are, the movie feels very much like a propaganda machine rolled into a military school movie - in which case I guess it excels at it's purpose for that. It could provoke some decent thought exercise arguments about morals on a plethora of areas, but there's a good deal of folks out there (such as me most the time) who don't really care so much about thinking in depth about how morally horrible you are for training kids under the age of 15 to be leaders of the entire military space fleet so they can successfully commit genocide in order to prevent the equivalent of possible future war.
Yeah, in the end it wasn't such a bad flick. If you're looking for a summer blockbuster type movie, it should accomplish it rather well. What's here is well done, but although anybody could probably watch it and not regret it the movie also doesn't really excel at any points enough to make it feel like more than just another science fiction war movie. By all means, it's most likely not the same as the book, but you'd need to ask someone who's actually read it for impressions on that. As a movie of and by itself, I'd call it and alright rental flick if you like sci fi, but if you crave something more than just another flick maybe you should look elsewhere.