NOTE: Spoilers throughout this review. You have been warned.
INTRODUCTION: As a fan of Science Fiction/Fantasy (SF/F) I have heard about the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card for years. It sounded interesting but I never got around to reading it. When I saw the trailer in with an Impossible Movie Posse* buddy she gasped with awe and joy. She LOVED the books and said that the only problem with the movie could be was that the book delivered a surprise at the end by showing that Ender was a child. I still thought the movie would be fun.
Then the whole Orson Scott Card being homophobic thing came out, I got super busy, and well I just didn’t go see it. Plus I had heard that it wasn’t that good. I decided not to worry about missing it. Then Hubby found the DVD on sale, bought it, and we watched it.
I loathe this movie, mostly for the cultural assumptions, combined with bad direction, that drove me crazy. You can read about it below. Or just promise yourself to never see the movie.
Also! I have never read the book(s) so I can’t compare it to the books. Remember that what you read below is about the movie and not the book(s).
OVERALL: This was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It is so bad I am shocked that Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 60-65% rating. I would have guessed 10%.
POINTS: It was pretty. Nice cinematography, visual color palette, and special effects.
PITFALLS: Oh where to begin. The writing and acting was stilted. I hold the director responsible. Everything line was delivered with OMG THIS IS SO IMPORTANT overly dramatic delivery. Add in stiff upper lip because we are the military and wow, bad. Just bad.
Plus I’m sure that Asa Butterfield is a good actor but he was incredibly uninteresting and annoying in this role. I kept wanting to slap him as I found his voice irritating. I’m sure this has to do with the character and direction ’cause Viola Davis, Harrison Ford, and even Ben Kingsley couldn’t give three dimensional performances.
FEMALE CHARACTER(S): They were there, and that was nice. There was Abigail Breslin as Valentine Wiggins. Oh yeah, you guessed it. She is Ender’s sister and his emotional center and compass. She gets to do the “girl” thing and convince him to continue doing the right thing. Although it is nice that two of them are always talking and acting like good friends. Then there is Hailee Steinfeld who plays Petra Arkanian. She is the only girl to make it to the elite fighting squad so yay, but huh? I mean it is really cool that there are boys and girls and many PoC in this movie!! YAY!!! I do like that so I guess it was odd that she was the only girl. Oh well. She is a fun character but sometimes she takes on “girlfriend” and “sister” roles too.
My favorite was Major Gwen Anderson played by Viola Davis. (I mean VIOLA DAVIS!!) She expressed concern on how Ender was being treated. She left because she didn’t agree with it. Smart move. She didn’t have to keep delivering the stilted, overly dramatic dialogue.
CULTURAL PITFALL(S): Ok, here goes. Basically the children in this movie are being trained to be perfect warriors to save the human species. Ohhhh-kaaaaayyyy. Their training consists of taking them away from their families, institutionalizing them in schools, and basically laying on heavy behavior modification and schooling, combined with selected isolation and allowed bullying and wow, ta-da, you get perfect warriors.
As an educator, let’s just say I find that, well, …I’m just not going there.
The evaluation of the children, in particular, Ender, never made sense! If you are going to evaluate someone it has to make sense as you move them through their education!!! But NO!! Sometimes Ender was punished for being too kind, others times for being too ruthless. They wanted him to be a leader, but they isolated him. IT WAS SO EFFING ANNOYING AND CRUEL THAT AS YOU CAN SEE I LOST MY SH** SEVERAL TIMES! WTF?!?! There was no logic to this strategy. In short, has anyone involved in this universe heard of instructional design?!!!
And please if you disagree with this assessment great, just put it on your damn blog because I do not have the patience or words to truly delve into how IDIOTIC this whole set-up was.
HIGH POINT(S): It was pretty. No really, it was a pretty movie. Oh and it ended. That was the best part.
BECHDEL TEST (Website): 2 of 3. Room for improvement.
RACIAL BECHDEL TEST (Website): 3 of 3. Whoa!!! that was nice.
IMDB: Ender’s Game (2013)
OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE: Ender’s Game | Trailer & Official Movie Site
DVD/BLU-RAY WORTHY: No, but actually we found it for a deal and that is how I watched it. Oh well.
LION PAW PRINTS: 1 of 5. Well it was pretty.
- Hatrack River | The Official Website of Orson Scott Card
- Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot
- 10 Homophobic Quotes by Orson Scott Card, Author of “Ender’s Game”
- Ender’s Game Film – Wikipedia
- Ender’s Game on Rotten Tomatoes
Ender’s Game Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Harrison Ford Movie HD
*A fun bunch of us who see movies together.
I’m not surprised you didn’t like it, you were too busy counting the number of female characters and missed the subtlety of the story. Did you count the number of men in Thelma & Louise? Thought not.
The movie (for those that can look past gender and skin colour) was surprisingly intelligent. One of the central themes was empathy vs aggression. While some shallow commenters call empathy a female thing, others of us understood it is a far more nuanced concept, not limited to one gender.
Ultimately, I offer this advice. In today’s age, if a feminist (aka sexist hypocrite) doesn’t like a movie, it’s a good sign that the writer and director thinks outside of the box. Some of us can look past a person’s gender and take them for what they are capable of / others not.