The long-awaited adaptation of Orson Scott Card's beloved sci-fi classic Ender's Game has finally hit the big screen, and critics are more or less greeting it with a shrug. Reviews are mixed, and even supporters aren't over the moon for it. Here's what people are saying:
- "Ender's Game is uneven—at times almost maddeningly so" but "it's never less than stunning to look at," writes James Berardinelli at ReelViews. But more importantly, and most refreshingly, "it's about something. … It's nowhere as complex and involving as Card's novel, but for those who prefer a little more meat on their sci-fi bones, this is an appetizing entree."
- Michael O'Sullivan at the Washington Post agrees. "The film doesn’t need added suspense, bigger action, or a better dramatic twist; it’s got all of those," he writes. But more importantly, it treats war and genocide "with surprising depth." He does warn that some deaths from the book are softened, which "seems a little chicken-hearted of writer-director Gavin Hood. His audience can take it."
- Much like its hero, "Ender's Game is a bit of a tweener, neither triumph nor disaster, with a use-by date of Nov. 22, when the new Hunger Games movie comes out," writes Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune. No one will mistake Hood for a sci-fi visionary, but he manages to avoid "an unwanted aura of retro-nostalgia," and the script does its job, "only occasionally lapsing into trailer-speak."
- But Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal despised the movie. "The geniuses who made this soulless spectacle have mistaken training, in which little is at stake, for genuine action." It doesn't help that Asa Butterfield's Ender is "insufferably manipulative and generally dislikable," and "doesn't seem all that brilliant" either. Harrison Ford plays his mentor "with what's become his patented gloom; the actor's theme song should be 'Bring In the Frowns.'"
(For those who haven't read the book, our headline references a line you're sure to hear in the film: "The enemy's gate is down.")