Game over; ‘Ender’ loses fan of book

Robert Mullen, Reporter

In one word, that’s what this film adaptation of the award-winning novel, “Ender’s Game” turned out to be.
The movie lacks nearly all the elements that made the book so emotional and interesting, and instead it seems to lecture about how wonderful the main character, Ender, is. A significant part of the movie’s dialogue is used up explaining how special and smart he is, but then fails at backing this claim up, showing what amounts to a complaining tool who is handed things based on a genius that fails to materialize. Later on, even more time is spent explaining the unbearable strain Ender is put under, but the movie makes his entire journey look like an incredibly fun summer camp.
In fact the movie is so fast paced that the majority of what takes place in the books over five or so years are squashed down into a few quick scenes that somehow feel like a terrible montage. These lack cohesion and seem rather off; the end result is that the main character comes out as impulsive and whiny rather than the rational super-genius he is supposed to be.
This problem is magnified by the lackluster acting of everybody under the age of 50, even Harrison Ford is washy; sometimes it doesn’t feel like he’s even there. Only Ben Kingsley manages to be believable for his relatively short appearance, and even then he doesn’t do much but exist. The majority of the cast, the kids, lack any real force on screen, and the rest of the supporting cast can just barely be called better.
Of course there are also the problems inherent with how the book was adapted. There are numerous details that are changed for little discernible reason; dates and ages are changed, the name of the antagonists changes, and two of the major subplots are totally dropped. This doesn’t touch on the number of events compacted together. A dozen battles become two, dozens of distinct characters become a handful, and only three end up really being anything other than place holders. Every event that is supposed to build meaningful and real characters is stripped away and compacted into a couple of snippets of rather bad dialogue. The book’s very reason to empathize with the enemy, which the film tries much too hard to emulate, is totally replaced with a whiny screeching monologue about why violence is bad.
Probably the worst thing about this adaptation is the spoiling of the ending. What is rather subtly led up to in the last quarter of the book is blared onscreen in the first half of the movie several times, just to make sure that the slowest members of the audience get it.
Of course not everything is horrible about this movie. It’s pretty, but in the end what should have been “Lord of the Flies” meets “Full Metal Jacket” becomes a CGI intensive attempt to jump on the bandwagon of movies like “The Hunger Games.” If you’re looking for a decent adaptation of Mr. Card’s Sci-Fi classic you’re much better off looking elsewhere.

Two out of five stars.