Ender’s Game was never going to live up to its source material. I understood that going in and attempted to temper my expectations, but my preparation was woefully inadequate.
|Stop: hammer time.|
But what was unbearable, as a fan of the novel, was unbearable. The point of the whole story is that [28 year old spoilers] he doesn’t realize what he’s done until after everything is finished. As far as everything goes, the first fight with the unnamed Stilson was alright. He didn’t drop him with a single kick to the breast bone, but he did at least keep kicking him while he was down, though never in the face like the f’real Ender would’ve. He kills Stilson in that fight, but the movie never acknowledges it. It’s the first instance of Ender’s ruthlessness, and he is ruthless. He plays to win, and he won that fight, forever… in the book. In the movie, Stilson just rolls around on the ground in pain like the pussy he is.
Now, that’s not a big thing to complain about, and that’s exactly my point: it’s such a small but affective moment that they could have included it without edit. Stilson should’ve died.
And the fight with Bonzo (Oh, Bonzo, lol, I’m getting to you, too) was the same. In the book, Ender is truly desperate. He’s surrounded by the 3 year older Bonzo and his (harder, better, faster, stronger) friends, and Bonzo is aiming to kill. He’s forgone all reason and wants Ender dead and the steps Ender takes to win the fight are necessary and even reasonable. The fight in the movie was laughable. He got pushed and hit his head, for Christ’s sake. Not to say that isn’t dangerous and potentially deadly, it’s just noir-ly pathetic. In the book, Bonzo dies (gets destroyed, more like) because he gets cocky, loses sight of Ender in the steam of the showers, and then gets popped in the nuts, repeatedly, even after he’s fallen to the ground underneath a boiling hot shower stream. But in the movie, he doesn’t die, and there’s no way the real Ender would stand for that. Ender doesn’t play games.
|Would it be weird if we kissed?|
|What the fuck is this?!|
There are plenty of other problems, but the biggest is the reveal of “the game.” And not just the game itself, but the whole story of Battle School. In the book, it’s after the final battle that he learns about the Bugger world, the deaths of Stilson, Bonzo, and all of the soldiers he was unwittingly using in the war. It should have happened this way in the movie. Save all of it for the end, then perhaps the audience, realizing that all of this is landing on Ender all at once, can sympathize with his situation. In the movie, he takes it in stride. Stilson’s in the hospital, but fine, regardless of the beating he took. No worry, no mention of him ever again (not to mention, it strikes a different chord when you realize that one 6 year old kid just beat to death another 6 year old – it’s definitely more acceptable if they're a little older, isn’t it?). All Ender knew was that Bonzo got sent back to Earth from Battle School, beaten but not broken in the movie. But in the book, Ender watches the video of his unsuccessful resuscitation after Ender is escorted from the bathroom by Dink. Think about how much more powerful a scene that would’ve been. First Stilson, then Bonzo. Then the soldiers. Then the Buggers. Ender’s just eradicated billions, so he decides to step out of the airlock…
And doesn’t kill himself? Seems rather implausible to me.
Of course, he doesn’t in the book, either, (he also doesn't take a trip outside) but if you’re attempting to make a great movie, I think that’s the direction you go. That, or insanity, because ain’t no one going to shoulder that load successfully.