Twin Takedown: Ender's Game Movie Review

twintakedownbutton - plus border
Who says all twins have the same opinion? Twin Takedown is a feature at Nawanda Files where my twin and I review the same book. We don't always agree. Spoilers are like landmines in this review. Beware. 

Ender's Game
Release Date: November 1st, 2013
Actors: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
Director: Gavin Hood
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rating: PG-13
Current Location: In Theaters
Rotten Tomatoes: 61% - FRESH


The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth.


Krista: Unlike Becca, I've never read Ender's Game. So my take on the movie is purely from the movie standpoint. I can't really say how well it was adapted, so Becca will take care of that commentary :)

Becca: But I read Ender's Game when I was about ten. And I never reread the book, so my knowledge is fuzzy at best. I do remember some scenes quite well though.

Krista: Going into this movie, I didn't have many expectations. Compared to other YA movie adaptions, this one seems far less hyped. But let me tell you, it's one that you should really check out if you have the time. Now, let's get into review--twin takedown style.

Initial Response

Krista: The movie opens up with Ender narrating the history of how aliens attacked Earth and how the humans destroyed them. It's very simple, and the first thought I had was -- these graphics are crazy!!

Becca: The graphics in this movie were really top-notch, weren't they? Nothing looked fake (except the video game, but of course that was intentional). I'd even have to say these graphics were better than things you'd see in The Avengers. 

Krista: We'll talk more about the CGI later, but one thing was certain at the start of this movie, I really didn't want it to end. 

Becca: Yes! I wanted to be in this world for an extra hour, and I kept chanting "this can't end yet!" 

The Plot/Story

Krista: Since I didn't read the book, I wasn't completely sure what would happen in the film. Though, I did know the overall storyline. But I didn't expect it to be so engrossing. Ender is training to join the International Military, but what he doesn't know is that Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) wants Ender to rise up to be the leader.

Becca: I remember the plot being slightly slow in the book, but the movie quickened everything, and you truly connect to Ender all the way through. The plot hooked me, for sure, even if I already knew the big twist at the end.

Krista: Watching Ender go through tests and rising up in the ranks was the best part.

We were also able to see just how much Graff manipulated him.

Becca: And it was very easy to keep up with the action. I just wish we could have seen more battles and more struggle. That would be my only qualm. It seemed a little easy for Dragon to make it to the top. (Also, not sure how long it took Dragon to be the best in the books). For pacing, though, it was prob good that they sped things.

The Acting

Krista: Asa Butterfield killed it as Ender. He was both awkward and badass. I was worried at first that he was going to be this shy, wimpy character. But he was strategically brilliant -- and aren't those the best kind of characters to root for?

Becca: Asa did kill it! He was the best mixture of genius and badass. And his struggles, socially, through Battle School made him so human. You'll love him, trust me. 

Krista: Colonel Graff has the second most screen time. His character is pretty one-dimensional. He sees things in black-and-white. Protect Earth at all costs. But I understand that he's there mostly to propel the plot. 

Becca: I was worried he was going to be corny. I thought for sure he'd bring the whole movie down because in the trailers, every time he spoke I rolled my eyes. But I strangely connected to him. And his constant voice overs and interjects helped flesh out the world. 

Krista: Next we have Petra, who I absolutely LOVED! She was kickass and had an organic friendship with Ender. She also gets to control the biggest, baddest weapon -- which totally warms my heart that they allowed the only female to do it. 

Becca: She did a great job. And I was glad they didn't turn the friendship into a romance. 

Krista: The only character I didn't quite connect to was Ender's sister, Valentine. Not to say Abigail Breslin did a bad job at the character, but there was no real backstory to why Ender and Valentine had a close relationship. Ender valued Valentine's opinions and compassion, but I wish we got at least one past scene or something to establish that relationship better [Side Note: there is a scene with Peter (Ender's older brother) attacking Ender and Valentine urges him to stop, but that established more the Peter-Ender relationship than the Valentine-Ender relationship.]

Becca: I disagree. I thought she did a pretty good job, and I really like Valentine. She's supposed to be the emotionally, empathetic child of the three Wiggins kids. And her bond with Ender was seen more in the way Ender revered her than when Valentine actually spoke. He looked up to her and he needed her reassurance that he wasn't a complete unfeeling killer. She's his home and his conscious. 

The Production Value/CGI

Krista: This is where the movie gets high marks from me! Seriously, it doesn't even look like CGI. I felt like I was in space fighting things. And in the battle room, it really did seem like there was zero gravity.

The battle room is badass. Any scene that came on in it (above) I was completely enamored. 

Becca: And I was really impressed by the Battle Room scenes. I used to picture the Battle Room with gray slated walls, but here, the walls were clear and you could see space, as though they were really floating in the universe. I loved it.

Krista: And let's not forget the costumes. Those were fantastic as well. They could have easily looked cheesy and stupid, but they managed to come across pretty damn cool. 

Becca: Even the way they made the young soldiers move was crazy. They were all just so -- uniform. It's kind of scary and it takes you aback. You have to remind yourself that these are just kids and they're being trained to fight wars. Also, I think it's important to note the "mind game" scenes where we watch Ender playing a video game. Those graphics are so freaking awesome. 

Favorite Scene

I'm going to have to say the last battle simulation. It was beyond epic, and you could totally feel how smart and powerful Ender had become at that point.

Becca: Definitely the last battle. Even though i knew exactly what was going to happen, my chest was in knots! 

The Ending

Krista: Oh GOD! That ending. For those of you who haven't read the book there is a huge twist. Though I think the way the film is cut, you may be able to predict it. I knew about it years ago (when Becca finished reading the book and spoiled me). But still, it had the same gut-wrenching effect. It changed everything for Ender. And Asa Butterfield did such an amazing job.

Becca: Hey, you spoil me about 99% of the books you read! So there. Ender -- you could just feel his pain. I loved what they made him say at the end. I remember the feelings I had when I finished the book, and I felt the same overwhelming pressure and sadness. Job well done! 


Krista: The acting and graphics alone make this one of the best adaptations of the year. I'm going to dock some points for slow pacing and some characters that weren't fully fledged. Otherwise, this is a movie that science fiction fans need to see in theaters. B+ 

Becca: The pacing was fast for me. In fact, I wanted more battle room. But besides that, the graphics are incredible, the plot spot on, the acting top-notch, and like Krista, I have to say this is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations, not only of the year, but of the past five years. Better than The Hunger Games? Yes, I think it captures the soul of the book in ways THG did not. Better than Beautiful Creatures and TMI? No question. Hands down Ender wins. Better than The Host? Duh. If you're fans of the book, definitely go see Ender's Game in theaters.


  1. I haven't read this book or seen the movie yet but now I really want to! It looks fantastic!

  2. This is not the type of movie I'd normally watch, but the CGI look stunning! I might give it a chance :D

  3. I am going to see this movie tomorrow night and can't wait. I read the book in 2007 so I don't remember much, just that I loved it. I knew back then that a movie was trying to be made... but studios kept screwing up. So I am glad it finally happened. Great review.

  4. Glad this adaptation was awesome, from the trailers it looked great but I thought it might have been a bit cheesy and young. Good to see that's not the case though and that you guys enjoyed it!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

  5. While I didn't enjoy the movie as much as you ladies did I have to say the CGI was abstemiously amazing and Asa did do a wonderful job as Ender! I wish that Valentine had been better fleshed out as well, it felt like they made this incredibly smart and complex character very 1 dimensional in the movie and I was disappointed by that.