First off, I will say that I have been a fan of this book for many years and, of course, that means that I had high expectations for the film. I also had the pleasure of watching the movie with someone who had not read the book before (an oversight currently being corrected). This really helped me to see the film on its own merit and less in the light of the book, especially given the abbreviated and rushed nature of the film when you compare it to the events of the novel.
Enderís Game takes place decades after an alien fleet, the Formics, came to Earth and devastated every defense we had in place. The only saving grace was a single fighter, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), who managed to take down an enemy ship and cause the whole invasion to stop in its tracks. In the following years, an international fleet is established whose purpose is to prepare for the next attack and they do so by scouting the world for potential military commanders. With the realization that children are more flexible and easy to mold, the new military force doesnít recruit from adults - instead, they gather their rank and file from minors.
One such is Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (Asa Butterfield, Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), and according to Battle Schoolís commander, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender might not only be the best, but based on a pending timetable, also the last chance the fleet has to make the best commander possible.
From the moment that Ender steps onto Battle School (a little before actually), he is put in an awkward place. He is ostracized and noted as the smartest kid in school, but it isnít long before Enderís strategic genius starts to come out. The primary place kids in Battle School show off their prowess is a zero-g arena called the Battle Room, and Enderís time in battles help to show just what he can do.
Of course, his rise in expertise means he makes enemies, namely in Ender's first commander, Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias), who resents his insubordination. Thankfully, Ender does gain some allies in characters like Bean (Aramis Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), Petra (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) and Alai (Suraj Partha).
Enderís Gameís Blu-ray release looks spectacular. The seamless blending of CG and human actors looks great in high definition. Scenes like Battle Room matches and the final fights at Command School all look great. Of course, it comes with a few special features as well. The release comes with a pair of commentary tracks, the theatrical trailers and deleted scenes, but the real jewel is the collection of featurettes under the Enderís World sub menu. These featurettes include a segment on the effort it took to even get the film started, while another is about the casting. There is one about the special rigs and techniques used to make the zero-g maneuvers believable, as well as one on the set creation (both digital and practical), plus one on the Mind Game that Ender plays and even one on the creation of the alien planet featured prominently in the filmís final act. This collection of documentaries clock in around 45 minutes and they are chock full of interesting information for any fan of the film.
Itís hard not to focus on the differences between the film and the novel that it is based on, but like I said above, seeing it with someone who didnít read the novel put the movie into the proper perspective. While I felt like there was a lot missing, apparently a viewer who hasnít read the novel still gets the same thrill of the Battle Room and excitement of Enderís final trials in Command School. While I feel that the story of Enderís siblings Valentine (Abigail Breslin) and Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) were practically erased, it's also true that, considering the story being told (Enderís journey), it isnít really all that necessary.
In the end, I enjoyed Enderís Game a lot, and I would recommend it even to fans of the book who may feel that something is missing. I feel like this is the best interpretation the book could have for a two hour movie, as anything more detailed would have to spill over into multiple films or even a mini-series.