Based on Orson Scott Card’s 1985 science fiction novel, Ender’s Game’s long and difficult journey to the big screen finally arrived late in 2013. Starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and Viola Davis (The Help), writer-director Gavin Hood’s (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) adaptation received mixed reactions from the book’s fans and movie audiences alike.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 54 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 02/11/2014
In 2086, Earth is attacked and almost annihilated by an alien species known as the Formics, saved at the last moment by what appeared to be a sacrificial attack by Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). Over the next fifty years, Earth prepares itself for the next invasion by recruiting children, training them for battle, under the supervision of Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Gwen Anderson (Viola Davis). Graff chooses Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) and recruits him for Battle School, seeing ruthless survival instincts required to fight the Formics. It is at Battle School where Ender meets Petra (Hailee Steinfeld), who helps Ender gain the skills required to fight in zero G. Through fatigue, isolation, and desperation, Ender develops the leadership qualities and radical tactics to lead his Jeesh to battle room victories.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Adapting a much-loved book is always difficult, and trying to take a novel that contains large chunks of inner-dialogue is near impossible. Writer-director Gavin Hood rises to the challenge, trying to preserve the tone and storyline from Card’s novel, but completely jettisoned Ender’s inner dialogue of grappling with many of the moral issues explored. Although most of the performances are exceptional, much of the storyline and characters became somewhat sanitized, making it difficult for anyone who did not read the book to really bond with any of the characters. Many of the scenes that would reveal the movie’s depth and provide story continuity were left on the cutting room floor and can be viewed in the bonus features on this disc. The result is a very entertaining and thought-provoking science fiction film, but not an exceptional one.
Lionsgate’s 1080p transfer retains the film’s intended 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio, compressed using the AVC codec. Colors and flesh tones are accurate and consistent, intentionally desaturated for the Earth-bound sequences. Much of the film takes place in space, where things can be particularly dark, and that is where this disc excels, with exceptional black levels and contrast. Detail is also quite strong.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Ender’s Game was released theatrically in Dolby Atmos, as well as both 7.1 and 5.1 mixes. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that sounds superb (even when mixed down to 5.1 by my Marantz SR-5008 receiver), one that many enthusiasts will likely want to pull out to show off their sound system. Pay particular attention to both the zero gravity battle games as well as the final epic space battle, where the viewer will find themselves completely immersed. Dialogue remains strong throughout, never becoming drowned out by sound effects or Steve Jablonsky’s score. A Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track optimized for late night viewing is included, as well as a Dolby 2.0 descriptive track for the viewing impaired, and a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary with Director Gavin Hood: This a fairly by-the-book director’s commentary, with Hood discussing what is happening on screen and how it got there.
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary with Producers Gigi Pritzker and Robert Ocri: The two producers discuss the film’s journey to the big screen, as well as detailing some of the changes made that differ from the book.
Ender’s World: The Making of Ender’s Game (1080p; 49:04): An interesting and revealing eight-part documentary on bringing the classic book to the big screen.
Inside the Mind Game (1080p; 3:50): From pre-vis to completed shot, this is a brief look at the video games played by Ender.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (1080p; 10:49): Six scenes viewable with or without director’s commentary.
Theatrical Trailers (1080p; 3:52): Two trailers (A and B) are included, but presented in 1.78:1.
DVD Copy: Standard definition DVD of the movie, with commentaries, deleted scenes, and trailers. The documentary and pre-vis comparison features are not included.
Digital HD and UltraViolet Copy: An insert contains a redemption code for UltraViolet HD and iTunes HD copies of the film.
Fans of the book and film will likely find Lionsgate’s treatment on Blu-ray to be the preferred method of viewing and owning Ender’s Game. This is a near-reference quality audio and video presentation, and the bonus features (many of which are exclusive to the Blu-ray edition) are fascinating to watch.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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