Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Reaction to Ender's Game

Boy has it been a long time since I posted! I apologize, but life has been taking priority, well, life and my first attempt at completing a novel. It's going well though, and I'm almost done with my first draft, so that's pretty exciting. I have recently started writing periodically for the Roleplayers Chronicles, and my first review was for the Fate-driven horror steam-punk game The Demolished Ones. You can read my review here (and I encourage you to do so!).

I'm writing today because one of my absolute favorite books ever was released as a movie yesterday. I had low expectations walking into Ender's Game, but nothing could prepare me for my disappointment after its almost two hours running time. Rather than write a full review, I've written up my own proposal for how I would have rather seen the movie (movies, in my case) been made. I'm generally against what Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit. The novel doesn't need 9 hours, at least not these 9 hours, but that's beside the point. I think Ender's Game should have been two movies, which you'll see more about below after the jump. 

Just a quick warning. There are plenty of spoilers ahead, so if you haven't read the book or seen the movie yet, you might want to hold back on reading my thoughts on the movie.

After my extreme disappointment yesterday morning walking out of Ender's Game, I'm not sure anything could have fixed the mess Gavin Hood created.

That being said, I think we can all agree that the story was incredibly rushed. We only got a few battles in the Battleroom, which really desperately needed more fleshing out. The lake scene was way too short. Locke and Demosthenes were completely cut out, the political dynamics which drive most of the motivations and actions of the characters in the books were no where to be seen, and Peter was a non-entity for the most part.

These are all flaws that could have easily been fixed given double the run time - two 2-hour long movies would have been amazing and given the actors time to grow older between them to show an actual progression of time.

The proposal is a simple, if not obvious one. The first movie is titled Ender's Game: Battle School and the second one is called Ender's Game: Command School.

The cut off point to end Battle School is immediately following the lake scene. You have more time to do more battles in the battleroom, actually showing Ender's rise not only as a commander of an army but as the leader he is born to be. You can spend a bit more time in the fantasy game showing just how much Peter influences Ender's thinking, and the first movie ends with an Empire Strikes Back down note of Ender killing another boy, giving up in the battle against two armies, and Valentine convincing him to do the one thing he absolutely does not want to do.

Command School begins with the flight to Eros and a quick recap of Ender's relationship with his siblings as we get the sidestory of Locke and Demosthenes as well as the politics back on Earth. This sets up the political struggle immediately following the end of the third invasion and the destruction of the Formics' homeworld.

We now have enough time to show the aftermath of the battle, Ender's isolation, and eventual exiling with Valentine. We get some real hope as humanity begins colonizing former Formic worlds. We can even get a Speaker for the Dead section at the end, although if you want sequels, we can leave off the Hegemon part for later and just do the queen for now.

I'm not saying the problems would be fixed, but it would have at least been a much more fulfilling story. The upside is that both movies would have their own sets of spectacular space fighting when you separate the battles in the battleroom from the battles in the simulator (which were the best things about the movie anyway). You get more of the best stuff while also fleshing out the characters, which was sorely needed in the movie version.


  1. I love book, movie was greated to. But not awesome ;)
    broker, peace

  2. I enjoyed the movie, but had not read the book...I'd heard all about it from my husband though. ;) He did enjoy the movie but, from what I understand, had to do what you have to do with most movies based on beloved books: Divorce the movie from the book and look at the movie as a completely different story. This is how I was able to enjoy The Bourne Identity, World According to Garp, Starship Troopers and many other movies based on books. ;)

    I do agree that your suggestions would improve the movie though. Because of the way the movie was done, it gave the impression that Ender rose in the ranks in a matter of months, not years.

  3. Your analysis is spot on. I've read the books 3 or 4 times and never had the heart to watch the movie because I had heard such bad reviews. Today, I decided to pull the trigger and watch it. The visuals were absolutely stunning. However, the pacing felt extremely rushed beyond rushed. I didn't mind that Ender was one age throughout the film, but I needed the characters to be fleshed out. For example, who are Bean and Dink? They could have been completely cut out from the film and had we not read the books we would be none the wiser. Sure they have a couple quips, but we really don't get any meaningful interaction with them. Also more battles would have been nice. We jump from Ender being assigned to his Dragon army straight to fighting two armies. Two movies would have done the book justice. After watching Ender's Game I had the exact same thoughts as you: Battle School and Command School. I guess that is the challenge of having to raise funding for the movie and pitch to potential investors who didn't read the book. Which sounds more epic: Boy saves the world or Boy becomes an ace at school. The only consolation is to think of this movie as a complement to the book that gives visuals to certain key events throughout the book.


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