The film, about a boy at a space-military academy for exceptional children, has engaging characters, an interesting story, and beautiful special effects. What went wrong?
Perhaps it was the subject matter: children forced to fight both an alien menace and one another. In a world in which we teach our children to stop bullying by reporting incidents to the nearest authority figure, Ender’s Game posits that the best way to stop a bully is to knock him down, then kick him in the ribs until his bones crack.
Perhaps it was the premise: adults manipulating children into becoming merciless, unstoppable, alien-killing prodigies. It’s one thing to wield a magic wand against Ralph Fiennes. It’s quite another to commit genocide.
Perhaps it was the subtext of that premise: adults are not to be trusted. Since adults form critical consensi and make purchasing decisions, perhaps Ender’s Game antagonized the wrong demographic.
Whatever the reasons, all I can say is that Ender’s Game worked for me. I cared about its hero, I enjoyed its action set-pieces, and I even got my socks folded.
Perhaps it’ll fare better on video.