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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Oct 31, 2013
    0
    Not only does Ender's Game have many scenes in zero gravity, but this zero-sum fiasco has zero drama, zero suspense, zero humor, zero charm and zero appeal.
  4. 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.
  5. 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."
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 31, 2013
    50
    Mr. Butterfield is one of those young performers whose seriousness feels as if it sprang from deep within. And while he’s an appealing presence, little Ender can’t help feeling like a pint-size psycho.
  8. 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.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 2, 2013
    70
    Straightforward, a bit literal-minded, very faithful to the book and largely compelling.
  10. 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.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 31, 2013
    0
    Ender’s Game, the book, may have a special place in pop-lit. The movie, however, is as special as a migraine.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 50
    Sure, it’s good-looking, cautionary and clever enough. But there’s not much in this “Game” that you’d call thrilling or fun.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 2, 2013
    50
    Ender’s Game is a blandly sanitized spectacle.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Oct 30, 2013
    50
    It’s a brutal story and a heady high-concept idea, but it plays out through characters with no identity other than their symbolic ones, and through shouted, simplistic arguments that repeat the same points over and over.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 25, 2013
    70
    An impressive, thought-provoking astro-adventure that benefits from the biggest screen available.
  21. 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.
  22. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Nov 1, 2013
    30
    Some of the movie isn't bad.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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?
  27. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Nov 1, 2013
    38
    Most Ender's fans, of course, won't care about comparisons and consider the film adaptation a long-awaited victory in itself. Those fresh to the tale — or at least expecting something fresh from it — may wonder what the fuss was about.
  28. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Oct 25, 2013
    60
    This starfighter-recruit blockbuster is refreshingly idea-driven.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Oct 31, 2013
    38
    Gavin Hood relays a vague sense of what it's like to live in duty, and yet at a distance from one's home, but this vision of the future never rouses, never asks to be remembered.
  34. 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.
  35. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Oct 25, 2013
    40
    It admirably avoids many of the pitfalls of adapting this book, but seems to have lost some of the life and pace as well.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 432 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 99 out of 165
  2. Negative: 36 out of 165
  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 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 1, 2013
    0
    First, I am a huge fan of Ender's Game, the book. It's an insightful and meaningful look at the mind of a gifted kid, with deep social and psychological commentary. Anyone who grew up "gifted" can relate to the isolation and otherness, the self doubt and fear, Ender feels throughout. The book meant a LOT to a lot of people, and whoever wrote this screenplay clearly did not understand it.

    They turn ender into a totally unlikable Mary Jane character who advances through the movie with no motivation, is pushed through ranks for no reason whatsoever, and somehow inspires loyalty in random people by doing approximately nothing, all while being a violent, irritating prick with no empathy for those around him.

    The changes to the plot are nonsensical, things were changed for no reason. Worse, some of them ignore reality (for instance, the command school being in another solar system if that were the way it was in the books, Valentine would have been old and the fleets would have been long past their destinations, as there is no FTL travel). They ruined the mind game. They made great characters flat as hell.

    Long story short, the lost the message, the characters, everything great about the book and gave us a crappy, generic piece of science fiction. Avoid this movie if the book means anything to you.
    Full Review »