I saw the trailer for Enders Game about 6 weeks ago, its piqued my interest so I investigated and wound up reading the book. I was blown away! in 6 weeks I've read 7 of the 13 titles in the "Enderverse". So to say that I have been staring at a calendar waiting for this movie to be released is an understatement. Right from the beginning I was disappointed with the portrayal of Ender. His distinguishing feature is his intelligence, and the slow talking Asa Butterfield almost seemed to be concentrating on his lines and being able to deliver them in an American accent rather then speaking like one of the most intelligent 12 year old's on the planet. I understand he had big shoes to fill, Ender is one of those great characters that stay with you for the rest of your life, that being said I firmly believe they chose the wrong actor.
I don't mind that they had to change things around, I realize it had to be done, however they tried too hard to take a little bit of each section of the book and put them all together with out realizing that without enough detail the smaller samples were not realistic or convincing. Ender is supposed to become one of the greatest leaders in human history as well as winning his soldiers respect to that point where they would "follow him to the moon without a space suite" during his time at battle school but the movie would have you believe Ender won the allegiance of his hostile class mates by cracking a single joke!? There was no character development for Enders fellow classmates, other then Petra this movie could have been written without any of them and probably would have been better off for it.
The battle room looked fantastic. The special effects in said battle room came up a little short. Maybe because I saw the making of Enders Game, or maybe because I saw "Gravity" a few weeks back, but the zero G stunts were not very good. Even though that was the case the look of the transparent walls of the battle room with Earth looming in the background carried enough weight as eye candy to make me want to see all the battles that Ender winds up winning with Dragon army. Unfortunately for me and those that read the book there was only one battle, a mix between 2 of the battle from the book that came towards the end of his training. This was just too rushed, I realize you can only cover so much with a 2 hour movie but this was not the way to do it.
They quickly promote Ender to command school where he will be trained to command against the formics. They changed up part of this story and skipped over some of the deeper explanation about the ansible and sending the fleet to attack the buggers planet 50 years earlier immediately following the first invasion, but i feel this lack of detail left the following scenes less emotional then they could have been. The feeling that Ender was humanities last hope, and that the following battles would determine weather or not humanity will continue on or perish came up very short. I gave this film 3 stars pretty much based solely on the last several "simulation" battles. the special effect for these I thought were very cool. Enders control of the battle and being able to change perspective and zoom in and out were nice. But as was the theme for the whole movie, things were rushed, a montage was used to give the feeling that the team was being run down, Enders mentions at one point how hard him and his team are taking it having to do all these simulations over the past months. However Asa Butterfields acting didn't sell it. None of Enders soldiers really sold the feeling of being completely run down to the point where (in the book) Petra falls asleep in the middle of a battle, or Hot Soup (i think it was him) goes catatonic due to the grueling schedule. Again, these 12 years olds are supposed to be the best of the best on earth trained in a military facility to be Napoleonic commanders, but come across as a bunch or little kids having a good old time playing wii at a sleepover where they stayed up past their bed time. These kids shouldn't have been smiling at all, there should have been cold calculating looks on there faces with intelligence in there eyes and barrack talk coming out of their mouths. Anyway, the final "test" was visually stimulating, it did have a sense of urgency, and there was a nice boom at the end.
I could go on about several other aspects of the movie that I was disappointed with (Graff, Anderson, Dap, Mr/Mrs Wiggins, Ender/Valentine, Bonzo..... all fell short) but I won't. I truly truly do not understand any positive reviews from anyone who has read this book. I can only imagine they were as hype as I was going into and let there preconceived notions of how great this movie would be take over for the time being. 7.0 / 10.0 .... way to high. Movies aren't supposed to be better then the books, everyone knows this, but as "The Hunger Games" recently demonstrated, they can still be good.