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Ender's Game (8 out of 10)
directed by Gavin Hood
written by Gavin Hood, based on the novel by Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game
Principal Cast
Asa Butterfield -- Ender Wiggin
Harrison Ford -- Colonel Graff
Hailee Steinfeld -- Petra Arkanian
Abigail Breslin -- Valentine Wiggin
Ben Kingsley -- Mazer Rackham
Viola Davis -- Major Gwen Anderson
For a long time now I've been rating films from one to four stars. Starting with The Wolverine review, I've switched to a rating from 0 to 10. Why? Because it is a much better three star film than Man of Steel was. Man of Steel was a 7. The Wolverine is an 8.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The movie is not the book. The movie is not as good as the book. But it's not bad.

The book is absolutely unfilmable today, as Orson Scott Card found out when he tried to get it filmed as written. Given the limits of what can be allowed on the screen where children are concerned, the film is as good as could be expected. It is well-acted, pays attention to detail of character and setting, and has excellent special effects.

The biggest change from the novel is to make Ender older, but at the same time more sensitive. At one point Mazer Rackham asks Colonel Graff if Ender has the necessary killer instinct. Graff says he does. Graff is lying. Ender in the book had the necessary killer instinct. Ender in the film does not.

The film does not sweep the major issues raised by the story under the rug. Is it ethical to use child soldiers if your very species is in danger of extermination? Graff says yes. I say I don't doubt that an African warlord who uses child soldiers feels the same way about his tribe as we feel about our species. Is it ethical to commit genocide if another species attacks you? That's the question Jean-Luc Picard asked about the Borg. Picard said no. Ender agrees with Picard. Graff is of the same opinion as the Federation, who censured Picard for not wiping out the Borg when he had the chance. The movie leans toward Ender's answer. I would phrase the question in another way. When a species unites to kill millions of human beings, what is a just punishment?

It is a measure of the quality of the film that it raises a number questions worth discussing.

A less important issue is the nudity, or lack thereof. In the book nudity is commonplace and accepted. In the film, boys and girls do not, most emphatically do not, shower together. And boys showering with boys modestly wrap themselves in a towel when another boy enters the room. That says more about America in 2013 than about anything of serious or lasting interest.

Copyright © 2013 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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