This is a complex story masterfully told since the beginning. The pace is speedy because the scenes are effective; each of them moves the plot ahead while introducing Ender Wiggin’s character to us, AND developing it. We quickly sympathize, and at the same time worry about what Ender’s character would be, or perhaps how bad it would become. And, as the title role, Asa Butterfield carries the whole movie very, very well. His striking blue eyes and his fully-determined facial expressions complement each other to portray a personality torn between his elder brother’s, and elder sister’s traits.
The second act almost feels like Harry Potter movies; a kid set in a fantastic world to meet several strong leaders and teachers, and to socialize with new friends and bad bullies. Yet, the awesome thing is Ender’s Game never feels like a kiddie movie. (Nah, it’s not Agent Cody Banks Goes to Space! And if you want kiddie movies, go watch anything by Marvel.) Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Viola Davis lend their gravity to this movie. Sad thing is, Abigail Breslin is underutilized. Seems like there is no room in the screen story for her character to become much more.
For non-readers of the book – me included – the revelation could be quite shocking. And it works very well – thanks to the fine build-ups around Ender’s character since the start. Yet, the point and the theme of the movie could be stretched a little bit more and emphasized a little bit stronger in the post-revelation scene. The conclusive sequence could also be just a little bit more elaborated (with close-ups of Ender’s face, perhaps) because we’ve gone so far into Ender’s heart and mind, and we wouldn’t want to see the ending credit roll so soon.