Ender's Game

Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 39
  2. Negative: 5 out of 39

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Matt Mueller
    Oct 24, 2013
    80
    Like its hero, Ender’s Game relies on brains more than brute force. An absorbing portrait of Lord Of The Flies-style morality housed in imaginative sci-fi casing.
  2. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Oct 31, 2013
    75
    Ultimately, the movie is not, to paraphrase the U.S. Army slogan, all that it could be. The climax is uninvolving generic eye candy, and the sequel-friendly coda is unconvincing.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 31, 2013
    75
    Ender's Game is uneven - at times almost maddeningly so - with the first half offering more enjoyment than the second. Perhaps that's because, in military-style movies, I often prefer the training segments to the battle sequences.
  4. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Oct 31, 2013
    75
    A big, dark film that should satisfy the many fans of the Orson Scott Card novel and engage newcomers, too.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 31, 2013
    75
    Ender’s Game is more than a parable about bullying, or a disquisition on the concept of the “just war.” It’s also a rousing action film, especially in Imax.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Oct 30, 2013
    75
    At times Ender’s Game throws so many metaphors and moral dilemmas our way, we almost forget to appreciate the stunning and gorgeous visuals covering every inch of the screen. Almost.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 2, 2013
    70
    Straightforward, a bit literal-minded, very faithful to the book and largely compelling.
  8. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 31, 2013
    70
    Its strong special effects make its simulated battles effective and, echoing the book, its story line touches on a number of intriguing issues.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 25, 2013
    70
    An impressive, thought-provoking astro-adventure that benefits from the biggest screen available.
  10. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Oct 31, 2013
    67
    Plenty of ideas float through Ender's Game but the notion of honing a child into a war machine is one that sticks. Writer-director Gavin Hood's adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel doesn't offer much else, bottled up with battle jargon and special effects debris as it is.
  11. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Oct 30, 2013
    67
    Though it can’t overcome the source material’s problematic themes — namely, Card’s intentionalist morality, which prizes a character’s ideals over their actions — or its all-too-convenient characterizations, the film manages a sustained sense of momentum and tone that is rare for a contemporary, big-budget movie.
  12. Reviewed by: Eric D. Snider
    Oct 31, 2013
    65
    Since it took 28 years to get it to the big screen, the fact that the end result feels rushed and hasty probably qualifies as irony.
  13. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 1, 2013
    63
    There's lots of zero-g action in Ender's Game - even old Han Solo takes a whirl.
  14. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Oct 31, 2013
    63
    A bit of a tweener, neither triumph nor disaster, a war-games fantasy with a use-by date of Nov. 22, when the new "Hunger Games" movie comes out.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 1, 2013
    60
    In the final analysis, that's the real endgame here: to get people into theaters and build a film franchise. For all of their film's flaws, Hood and company do that well, as Ender's Game shapes up as a decent franchise starter -- and a film that makes it hard not to be intrigued by what will come next.
  16. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Oct 31, 2013
    60
    Character development, dramatic tension and emotional resonance all get short shrift in the checklist exposition by writer-director Gavin Hood.
  17. Reviewed by: Marc Bernardin
    Oct 25, 2013
    60
    If only adapter-director Gavin Hood's movie had been tempered with craft and care and wasn't such a blunt instrument, one that seems designed as a delivery system for CGI derring-do instead of the heartbreaker it should be.
  18. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Oct 25, 2013
    60
    This starfighter-recruit blockbuster is refreshingly idea-driven.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 24, 2013
    60
    The movie's apocalyptic finale indicates that it's bitten off considerably more than it can chew in terms of ideas, but it looks good, and the story rattles along.
  20. Reviewed by: Tom Huddleston
    Oct 22, 2013
    60
    It falters once the actual war begins: Ben Kingsley shows up as a Maori warrior with the weirdest imaginable accent, the final battle is uninvolving, and there’s an unconvincing upbeat coda. Ender’s Game ends up being fitfully engaging and endearingly odd.
  21. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Nov 1, 2013
    58
    By the time the movie finally manages to get interesting, audiences may be too numb and their retinas too fried to win back.
  22. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Oct 28, 2013
    58
    As a mainstream sci-fi film, this enjoyable, occasionally poignant effort too often feels messy in the wrong ways.
  23. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Nov 1, 2013
    55
    It may seem odd for a teen-focused action movie to feel so glum, but that's actually something that the director gets right, even if it threatens to make this a dull affair: Ender's Game is a dark story of a children's crusade built on the crushed psyches of damaged youths, and too much uplift would undermine it.
  24. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 2, 2013
    50
    I can understand wanting to skip Ender’s Game as a matter of moral principle, but you can also feel free to blow it off just because it’s not that good.
  25. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 2, 2013
    50
    Ender’s Game is a blandly sanitized spectacle.
  26. 50
    Ender’s Game’s only lyrical presence is Breslin’s. The actress has a gentle soul. In the end, she’s the movie’s mascot, and its mournful spirit.
  27. Reviewed by: Simon Abrams
    Nov 1, 2013
    50
    The film's biggest problem is a matter of tone and characterization: the characters constantly talk about how mean they can be, but their actions suggest otherwise.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Oct 31, 2013
    50
    It comes down to this: Which is more important, the innocence of a child or the survival of the species? And if the race survives, will it just become like the enemy aliens that must be destroyed to do so?
  29. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Oct 31, 2013
    50
    Eventually the movie wants to have things both ways: to approvingly entertain mainstream audiences with the glittering spectacle of space battles and to pay lip service to the notion of conscience.
  30. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Oct 31, 2013
    50
    Hood's realization of Card's novel is a tightly constructed, thought-provoking meditation on adolescence trapped by permanent war footing, alloyed with some of the best CGI effects work I've seen since, uh, "Gravity."
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 510 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 88 out of 179
  2. Negative: 39 out of 179
  1. Nov 1, 2013
    10
    Go into it knowing that some things from the book will be change. That's just how it is for any book to movie adaptation. On its own meritsGo into it knowing that some things from the book will be change. That's just how it is for any book to movie adaptation. On its own merits this is a fantastic sci fi movie that I hope will do well enough for them to merit a sequel. Full Review »
  2. Nov 1, 2013
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. A lot of surface structure, but no heart. In the end, bedazzling graphical scenes took front seat to capturing the depth and conflict the majority of the characters in the book go through. There are quite a few of the book's characters present, but really, just a hollow shell of what made them lovable throughout the series. The 2 most important characters were severely reduced; Ender and Graff. This movie failed to capture any of the depth that is Edner Wiggin. Graff went from a very complex and morally conflicted character to a soulless bureaucrat who's only interest is results.

    Locke and Demosthenes were completely eradicated from the story, and Peter was only present for 4 minutes of the film.

    A 4 year story was reduced to just over a month, which was impossible to follow at the brisk pace the movie moved at. Years of battleroom competitions condensed into 2 battles, the second demonstrating abilities of a well-oiled machine that doesn't make any sense considering half the competitors had never set foot in an actual battle.

    In all, it just felt completely rushed, and void of depth. The battleroom sequences were awkward at best,. The Bonzo-Ender confrontation felt completely weird, and the majority of inter-character relationships were cardboard cutouts as plot devices.

    I understand that a majority of things are lost in translation when brought to the screen, but there ARE adaptations that were well done (LotR, Interview with the Vampire, and even Hunger Games).

    After waiting 17 years for this to come to life, it left a lot to be desired for. Those who enjoy action sci-fi, and not looking for a deeper meaning will enjoy the flick. But, anyone who is intimately familiar with the book and are looking for any resemblance beyond sequence of events and a couple peppered in characters will likely leave the theater feeling disappointed.
    Full Review »
  3. Nov 3, 2013
    4
    Overall, Ender's Game is too reliant on special effects to fill the gaps left by mediocre acting and plot holes. It is simply too unconvincingOverall, Ender's Game is too reliant on special effects to fill the gaps left by mediocre acting and plot holes. It is simply too unconvincing to be a memorable achievement in film. Full Review »