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A Long Wait, But Not Long Enough
Ender's Game is the long-awaited film adaptation of the sci-fi classic of the same title. Ironically, the film itself would have greatly benefited from being longer. With a two-hour run time, Ender's Game manages to pack in a faithful adaptation of the book's events, but it looses the book's heart in the process.

Adaptation Distillation is inevitable when filming a story as deep as the original Ender's Game, and choices like including Bean in Ender's launch group, skipping his time in Rat Army, and cutting his sibling's blogging subplot altogether make sense. However, even with these cuts and rearrangements, two hours is not enough time to tell the story adequately. Details of the setting, science, and logistics of the war are simplified or skipped over; most notably the issue of long distance space travel, which leaves a minor plot hole as to why Ender's training has a deadline. Worse, with the exception of Petra, the other children in Ender's command cadre are almost devoid of characterization or interaction with Ender, making them only distinguishable physically.

Ender's character suffers as well. His tactical genius is largely an Informed Ability due to the film only portraying his first and final battle games, thereby skipping his growth as a leader and tactician, and making him appear to have simply arrived at the school perfect. This is only worsened by there being very little sense of how much time has passed between any given event in the movie, making it seem as if the entire film could have taken place in as little as a couple weeks. Ender's emotional journey, which was arguably the true main conflict of the book, is only lightly touched upon a handful of times. This is most evident in the final act of the film, when the spectacle of grand space battles becomes the focus instead of the breakdown-inducing mental stress of Command School on the kids, and Ender's disillusionment with the entire war in particular.

What it comes down to is that Ender's Game is simply too short for the story it needed to tell. Even another half hour (or better yet a full one) at Battle School could have given the story the breathing room it needed. As is, nothing is allowed the time necessary to give it the emotional weight needed to drive the story home, and in the end, it turns out as just a sci-fi action film.
This is exactly what I thought of the film. I enjoyed it, but I'm quite familiar with the source material and to me it felt like a series of sequences that were designed to be understood by people who'd read the book. It really needed another ~hour to flesh out Battle School, the characters, and the history of the Bugger war a bit more so that things were a bit more coherent. That's not unheard of with book adaptations, so I'm not sure why they didn't just shoot for 2.5-3 hours. I'm sure people would have happily sat through it, because a lot of the Battle School stuff is...well, cool.
comment #21968 JobanGrayskull 12th Nov 13
Exactly this. Leaving out the blogging subplot was a good call, and cutting minor characters like Crazy Tom and Hot Soup is understandable. Unfortunately, Bean, Alai, and Dink Meeker are barely developed and have only a handful of lines each, which robs Ender of the various things he learned from them. Petra fares better in terms of screen time, but ends up as more of a pleasant token female than a crazy badass sniper (which really annoyed me, as a Petra fan). Ender himself isn't allowed enough time to form connections with the other children, and his various breakdowns are glossed over or left out entirely. We really don't see him mature as a leader, a strategist, or a person. It's frustrating, because that was the strength of the original book. If they had just included a few training scenes (other than the one with Petra) and allowed Ender to form those connections, it would have been a much better adaptation.
comment #22067 Shadowfax 17th Nov 13
Now I don't have to write a review, because you encapsulated it perfectly.
comment #22162 slvstrChung 21st Nov 13
comment #22166 Tuckerscreator 21st Nov 13
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