Lost Hope for Mankind might as well have been the title for this film.
I imagine that it was extremely difficult to decide how to depict the main character “Ender” as a killer. Having a young boy who assumes that the best way to prevent future fights with other people (or species) is to possibly annihilate them from existence, might be hard to swallow. I understood from the onset that depicting this unsettling trait in a ten-year old boy would be tricky at best because if the actions were displayed too harshly, there would not only be no sympathy for the character but the film might also be rated as one that children really should not see.
The best selling book, by Orson Scott Card, takes the time to make the reader appreciate the struggle that Ender is going through, which brings him to these life changing decisions. The film, on the other hand, is very good at stating the facts that move the story along but it unfortunately does not take the time to develop relationships or reasons for cause and effect as the movie quickly proceeds forward to the "next chapter.”
As one of those who have read the books (I have thoroughly enjoyed the four-book Audible set), I was excited to see the characters from book one come to life on the big screen. To my sadness, that was about as far as the excitement went. I felt as if the filmmaker sat down and said, “We are now on chapter seven, so we must have scenes on apprehension about the battle room and strategies on how to defeat Ender’s opponents.” The dazzling special effects might draw you in for the moment but that’s where it ends. Prior to the excitement, if there had been proper character development, one might even empathize with the friends and the villians.
Example: When a member of Ender’s team gets “frozen,” the moviegoer should have some feeling about that particular character. Instead, the focus stays on Ender with the feeling that everyone else is secondary. You find yourself not appreciating the other characters because you don’t know them. This is what I mean by Lost Hope for Mankind. Lost hope for all but Ender as far as this movie is concerned.
What I did like was the game play-dream sequence during which Ender discovers his psychic connection with the alien beings. The pretty young female seems to be his sister Valentine, who is showing him the way towards understanding. In fact, this is Jane, who does not appear in the stories until later on in Ender’s life.
Regardless, of my negative views, I am looking forward to the sequel film, Speaker for the Dead. Even if the book is not followed closely, I believe there will at least be good storytelling with hidden twists that are alive in the Ender Universe. Perhaps with the tying of the first movie with the second, more understanding of what the filmmaker what trying to portray will come through, but I doubt it.