Movie blurb: A brilliant young strategist rises to the top of his class in Battle School while training to defend Earth against hostile aliens intent on exterminating the entire human race in this sci-fi epic based on the celebrated novel. In the not-too-distant future, our planet has come under attack from a malevolent race of aliens known as the Formics. Incredibly, fearless International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) sent them fleeing back into the stars, becoming a living legend in the process. But decorated Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) knows that the Formics will soon return even stronger than they were before, and he's determined to find a new hero who can meet them head on. Enter Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a modest young man with vast untapped potential. Upon being recruited into Battle School, Ender partakes in a grueling series of simulations, effortlessly mastering every challenge presented to him. Celebrated by his peers and respected by his superiors, Ender is quickly promoted to Command School, where the one and only Mazer Rackham provides him with the knowledge and tools needed to save mankind from certain extinction. As the final battle approaches, Ender prepares to embrace his destiny as one of the greatest heroes in the history of planet Earth. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Overall, this was well executed. The visuals were awesome - from the shuttle that takes the trainees to the space station, the gravity-free "War Room", the hand controlled monitors, the shots of deep space and even the Formic planets were very well conceptualized. The one time the audience gets to see the Formic's up close, we find out just how beautiful a "bug" can look. The director nailed it.
Now to nitpick and this is where I think having read the books was an advantage: the plot was a bit choppy, coming off almost as rushed chapters rather than a smooth segway about Ender Wiggin's progression through his training. The explanation of the Major Gwen Anderson's roll in Wiggin's constant psych evaluation came later than it should have in a movie setting. The instant affection between Petra and Wiggin felt out of place rather than the natural bonding of two trainees to cope with a difficult platoon leader. Mazer Rackham came across as stiff and wooden, as if Ben Kingsley wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to do. What doesn't come across very well is Ender's physical and emotional decline leading up to the big reveal at the end. The subsequent mental breakdown fell short of the impact it should/could have had.
While not without it's faults, it's a movie that I (and my Dad) thoroughly enjoyed. Book and movie recommended.