Ender's Game (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews

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Official AVS Blu-ray Disc Reviews

Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts
10:44 AM Liked: 864
post #1 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 9,824
Joined: Mar 2002

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Summit - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin
Written & Directed by: Gavin Hood based on the novel by Orson Scott Card
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 11, 2014

"The enemy’s gate is down"

Film Synopsis:

As fears of an alien invasion grow, Earth's International Fleet recruits an unlikely leader - a young and brilliant boy - to command its forces and fight for the future of the human race. Based on the worldwide bestseller and featuring an all-star cast, Ender's Game bursts with epic adventure and stunning visual effects.

My Take:

In the near future, a hostile alien race called the Formics has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff (Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young children to find the next great leader. Ender Wiggin (Butterfield), a shy, but strategically brilliant boy is pulled out of his school to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military's next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he's trained to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.

Ender's Game is based on the 1985 military science fiction novel by author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth's future, the story centers around protagonist Ender Wiggin and Earth’s preparation for an impending invasion by an alien species. I am not familiar with the original novel or the series that followed so I went into this review cold. As a sci-fi fan I had no trouble adapting to the futuristic storyline but found the development of characters in relation to some of the plot points to be shallow. Conceptually speaking Ender’s game doesn’t offer anything especially new as it blends various elements such as themes of morality and humanity aimed at thought provoking inspiration. I would say that it doesn’t successfully achieve its goal in that regard as I wasn’t truly drawn into Ender’s inner conflict.

At nearly two hours there is ample time to generate a foundational connection not only to Ender and those around him but a better understanding of what and why there is a need for the actions being undertaken. What we get are trippy glimpses and barely a surface skimming perspective on the alien invaders which negatively impacts adherence to the events that transpire in the film’s final act. Having said all of that there is still plenty to like about the film. The idea of young soldiers and the interwoven associations of comradeship, power, manipulation and subtly complex sci-fi/fantasy add an enticing dramatic flavor that offsets the uneven script. There is a bit of complimentary suspense, action and melodrama and the production elements are rewardingly high. The cast in general is quite good as the mix of seasoned veterans, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis and quality young actors in Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin enhance the proceedings.

At the end of the day it would be fair to say that I enjoyed Ender’s game but it failed to leave a lasting impression.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some violence, sci-fi action, and thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 98

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency extension:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 94

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black level/Shadow detail:
  • Color reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

Ender’s game comes to Blu-ray disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5.3 Mbps.

This is a reference quality video presentation that looks superb. Images can be visually arresting and have a rich dynamic quality that highlights its near flawless rendering of detail. The video has a three dimensional and razor sharp clarity that never left me wanting. The visual design features a limited color scheme that is aesthetically perfect for the subject matter. The majority of the film boasts deep shades of gray, blue, sepia, white and black. These colors are not vivid in tonality but their depiction is stark and fully appreciable onscreen. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages that only occasionally obscure the finest details. The various wide angle shots of darkened interiors and brightly lit open exterior expanses look terrific. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a sophisticated visual design that uses more CGI than real imagery. The end result is a rewarding video presentation that evokes the spirit of the film.

The 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack presented here is an impressive one that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. This is an engaging and dynamically rich surround mix that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation and frequent use of room shaking bass extension which bass lovers are sure to appreciate (I didn’t detect the use of any filtering here folks). Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or tonal inflection of voices. This is an active sound design that contains a variety of sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each is clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement.

For those of you seeking objective measurements, graphs, or more info about the bass in this movie, visit the Data-Bass.com Low Frequency content thread or peruse their entire list of original measurements in the comprehensive Bass Movie measurements Google spreadsheet You can also visit The New Master List of Bass in Movies with frequency charts thread to discuss this movie right here on AVS!

Bonus Features:
  • Audio commentary with writer/director Gavin Hood
  • Audio commentary with producers Gigi Pritzker & Roberto Orci
  • (HD) *Exclusive * Ender’s World: The making of Ender’s game (8 segments):
    1. Journey to the big screen – 6 minutes
    2. Recruiting the troops – 11 minutes
    3. Ender in Zero-G – 4 minutes
    4. Battle school revealed – 4 minutes
    5. The mind game – 2 minutes
    6. Behind enemy lines – 7 minutes
    7. The alien world – 8 minutes
    8. Ender’s mission complete – 5 minutes
  • (HD) 6 Deleted/Extended scenes with optional director commentary
  • (HD) Inside the mind games – 4 minute production featurette
  • (HD) Two theatrical trailers
  • Bonus DVD
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the 1985 military science fiction novel by author Orson Scott Card Enders game is an uneven but ultimately entertaining adaptation that would probably leave fans of the book wanting. Having not read the novel I have no frame of reference but enjoyed my time with it. It didn’t resonate as deeply as I’d hoped but I intend to give it another viewing and see what that brings. What I did find memorable was its presentation on Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. It features reference quality high definition audio/video and a fan friendly supplemental package that looks behind the scenes at the production. I would say that Ender’s game probably doesn’t qualify as a blind buy but for those wanting to check out its terrific presentation on Blu-ray it’s easily worth the cost of a rental.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

MPMorph's Avatar MPMorph
12:04 PM Liked: 14
post #2 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 37
Joined: Apr 2007
I personally loved the movie. Saw it on VUDU the other day. Loved the plot. Really captures how fear takes over the so called great leaders of the world and make them do very questionable things. No intention or attempt of communication from the human race towards the aliens. Humans were so focus and determined to rage war against these aliens the the how didn't matter, just get it done. Didn't matter what they were losing. Eliminate the threat at any cost.

Love the special effects. Loved that is 7.1 sound. Will definetly get this on blu-ray!!

Hope they made enough to justify a 2nd one!!!
Nina1's Avatar Nina1
12:17 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2014

I watched this movie last night.The special effects make the movie great.

Fabes's Avatar Fabes
12:26 PM Liked: 13
post #4 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 32
Joined: Jan 2012
I'm not all that surprised that "Hollywood" was unable to capture the deeper musings of the original novel (which is just a fantastic read). However, this is still an absolute must-buy for me!

Thanks for the write up!
audiofan1's Avatar audiofan1
12:47 PM Liked: 604
post #5 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 3,420
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Hi Ralph smile.gif

I'm looking forward to this one and the review has me more assured about the blind buy I'm planning.
Dave Vaughn's Avatar Dave Vaughn
01:44 PM Liked: 158
post #6 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 4,422
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Totally agree with your assessment Ralph and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
nickbuol's Avatar nickbuol
02:13 PM Liked: 240
post #7 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 1,904
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I was pleasantly surprised with this movie when I saw it in theaters. I had heard horror stories from some people that were die hard fans of the book, but without that point of reference, I really like the movie. I have rented a lot lately and this will be a purchase for me.
Toe's Avatar Toe
02:30 PM Liked: 652
post #8 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 13,528
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Thanks Ralph. Excited to check this one out! Might have to do a blind buy with those A/V scores. cool.gif
javanpohl's Avatar javanpohl
03:23 PM Liked: 125
post #9 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 1,144
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Ralph, just wanna say I really appreciate you pointing out the lack of bass filtering. I know we ULF folks sometime seem to be on the minority side of the "who cares?" spectrum, but that doesn't make us any less important, does it? smile.gif Excited to finally check this one out!
04:59 PM Liked: 153
post #10 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 617
Joined: Nov 2003
enjoyed this a lot at theater ( my one trip last year) - looking forward to the blu-ray
I highly recommend to read the Ender saga series of books - fantastic series
mtbdudex's Avatar mtbdudex
06:03 PM Liked: 361
post #11 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 4,964
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Ralph - I missed this movie in theaters, based on my reading the book/series 5+ times, and your review, I'm pre-order this right now from Amazon.
paultimm's Avatar paultimm
07:04 PM Liked: 11
post #12 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 26
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Ralph, I was just wondering how one can tell if there is some restraint on ultra low frequencies? Is there some sort of equipment that you have or use to find this out?
07:28 PM Liked: 31
post #13 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 352
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I'm going to pick this up on its street date...looks interesting and I'm an Harrison Ford fan ( met him in St.Thomas VI...Sean Connery as well). Nice guys.. The wife is from there, stars frequent the islands all the time.

Thanks King P.... Great review.
Ishniknork's Avatar Ishniknork
07:51 PM Liked: 30
post #14 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 420
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Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! biggrin.gif

I think this is going to be a "buy" for me. Love your reviews Ralph!
Reddig's Avatar Reddig
08:31 PM Liked: 188
post #15 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 1,696
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Thanks for the review Im totally buying this one sight un-seen! Really enjoyed the book and I really wanted to catch this in theaters but it only stayed for a week at my local theater.mad.gif

So pumped for this can't wait to hear the audio and see the special effects work.
DeadEd's Avatar DeadEd
11:55 PM Liked: 90
post #16 of 94
01-30-2014 | Posts: 517
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You *MUST* read the book since you are a SciFi fan. This is one of my favorite scifi books ever (after Childhood's End). Card is a wonderful author (though I do not agree with his politics). I have read it at least 5 times and I've read all the f/u books which were good but not as good as Ender's Game. I agree that development was a bit sparse but I can't really seperate myself since I know the story so well. I liked the movie a lot. I can't say I LOVED it, the book was better. It's not another Blade Runner or Star Wars but I'll buy it and watch it a few more times.
BrolicBeast's Avatar BrolicBeast
07:22 AM Liked: 423
post #17 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 3,192
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When I first saw this trailer, I thought it was a Spy Kids wannabe.  I actually thought to myself after seeing the trailer: “why would they waste such epic special effects on a kids' movie?” But then, a buddy who read the book series (A book series?  That was news to me.)  explained to me that it was actually a very adult story that just happened to have a child as the protagonist. I told myself I’d scoop this up on Blu Ray, if the A/V was as great as I expected it to be.  Looks like a stellar A/V presentation, which means a direct blind-buy for me!  I really can’t wait for this to be released!

pacman9270's Avatar pacman9270
08:12 AM Liked: 20
post #18 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 125
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Thanks Ralph! Really appreciate your reviews.
javanpohl's Avatar javanpohl
09:13 AM Liked: 125
post #19 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 1,144
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Originally Posted by paultimm View Post

Ralph, I was just wondering how one can tell if there is some restraint on ultra low frequencies? Is there some sort of equipment that you have or use to find this out?
While measurements would definitely be more objective, even they can't really show if a soundtrack was filtered, unless you're comparing one version with another (a la Master and Commander, DVD vs Bluray). But, if your system is capable, you aren't continuously tweaking the settings, you watch every movie about the same way (volume, setting, or what-have-you, wise), and you've experienced some of the deep bass that some soundtracks have, it's pretty obvious if a soundtrack either has those deep-reaching frequencies or it doesn't. Just in terms of sound, a 17hz effect sounds/feels a whole lot different than a 30hz effect. While they may only be 13hz apart, they are almost a whole octave away from each other. Other factors that can make the difference in frequency response obvious is how your system and room respond to those respective frequencies. For example, some people on here know at what frequency their drywall starts moving.

It becomes really obvious that a soundtrack's bass response has been neutered (either at the mastering or mixing level) if there is a ton a big-action bass but nothing digs down real deep. ::cough:: Man of Steel ::cough, cough:: The Hobbit. A lot of arguments pop up about stuff like this because not every has the same system or frequency response. Even if two people have system that have some truly deep bass potential, maybe one system exaggerates or minimizes a certain frequency. If a movie's soundtrack empahsises that frequency, one of those systems will make it seems like the soundtrack has a lot of bass and the other may not. However, most of the arguments pop up because you'll get somebody who has a system that peaks at 30hz and they're like "OMG the bass was craaaazy!!"

Haha, sorry, I'm rambling. Hope that answered your question.

BTW, if you have more questions about this, I suggest taking them to related threads like http://www.avsforum.com/t/1333462/the-new-master-list-of-bass-in-movies-with-frequency-charts. Please don't hijack Ralph's review thread.
spiritfox's Avatar spiritfox
10:14 AM Liked: 22
post #20 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 570
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Nice review, Ralph. I have this as an Amazon preorder and am looking forward to seeing--and hearing this one. I started to read the first book but never got very far--I actually thought at the time I would rather see it in movie form, so I'm glad it did make it as a movie. Should be a fun watch.
Tnilsson's Avatar Tnilsson
04:25 PM Liked: 24
post #21 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 1,647
Joined: Jul 2003
I avoided this movie in the theaters as I read the book and thought it was (and remains) one of the best sci-fi books ever written (even though I, too, find Card's real-life world-view to be disgusting; I knew nothing about him when I bought his book). I didn't want what might be a so-so movie to ruin the book for me more than Card's politics already have. So I appreciate the review and I might rent it. But I feel compelled to point out that the book also gave very short shrift to the aliens, intentionally, until the very end of the book. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I will stop there, but it sounds like you are blaming the movie for just doing what the book does (which makes sense as you've not read the book).
Franin's Avatar Franin
09:23 PM Liked: 355
post #22 of 94
01-31-2014 | Posts: 17,862
Joined: Aug 2007
Didn't realise this was out on Blu, definitely picking this up on a blind buy.
RonAlam's Avatar RonAlam
09:29 AM Liked: 29
post #23 of 94
02-01-2014 | Posts: 515
Joined: Oct 2009
i felt that the actor who portrayed Ender was very hollow and boring to watch. Ive seen better Keanu acting then this. :-(
Cyrano's Avatar Cyrano
09:32 AM Liked: 90
post #24 of 94
02-01-2014 | Posts: 5,738
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Originally Posted by RonAlam View Post

i felt that the actor who portrayed Ender was very hollow and boring to watch. Ive seen better Keanu acting then this. :-(
He was also the boy in Hugo.
Phrehdd's Avatar Phrehdd
09:46 PM Liked: 121
post #25 of 94
02-01-2014 | Posts: 555
Joined: Apr 2008
There are times when one should take some license when moving from the written word (books) to another medium (cinema) and this particular product - the movie "Ender's Game," is a perfect example of missing the very best of what the original (book) had to offer. Many will enjoy the film as a film but it truly is a horrible adaptation on so many levels.

Before I say more - I'll just say I have recently finished the book and saw the movie on Vudu (about an hour ago). There are so many fantasy and sci-fi adaptations that it doesn't take long for an avid fan to understand that what can be conveyed in a book may not always translate well to screen and of course, time limitations. Ender's Game is a tragic deconstruction of a rather interesting book that covers various facets of morality plays, social commentary (that can reflect our own times) and of course the expected motifs of lost innocence and what humanity itself may mean.

When the movie Shawshank Redemption was given to the public, it was influenced by another film that may surprise some - The Goodfellas. What Shawshank got from The Goodfellas was the value and use of a strong narrative to help shape and cover events to give them greater depth and a touch of ethos to surround the characters we were watching in a story unfolding. I can't think of a better use of the narrative than in a film like "Ender's Game" as it was missing so much of what made Ender's mind tick. - His fear of being like his brother, his desire to be left alone, sitting between his sister and his brother in what he is and his ability to be violent yet have the value of compassion. Both of the latter were determiners in what would make a good leader in what was to unfold in this movie. Also missing is the view of the enemy and how they first saw us which helps us understand why Ender saw things quite differently than those around him. I'll spare the notion of what his sister and brother were doing on Earth as that too could have been handled through narrative and enriched the entire movie story experience.

I have seen stories such as Eragon hop to the screen, be mediocre and still are vastly superior to this particular adaptation. Sorry folks, I know not every one will bother with the book but this is more about a richer story, depth and development of the hero/lead and even the foils along the way who help shape him, ready him and allow him to execute the great moment that the movie arrives at and then epilogue. I feel comfortable with my soap box rant on how bad this movie is because there are movies out there that "get it" as far as providing a very rich cinema experience, stay close enough to the book and don't suffer from sophomoric writer/directors such as Hood. This movie was way out of his league and we are all cheated given the meaty story of what he had to work with. - If you can't capture the book exactly then take another angle so to speak like Slaughterhouse Five did.

Ralph, your review was good and carries well for audio and video. I'll say I am just way more critical on the script itself and a couple of CGI moments that were just bad and say this was for me a huge disappointment. If someone is interested in this film, RENT it don't buy it. Don't reward bad direction and writing.
07:47 PM Liked: 36
post #26 of 94
02-02-2014 | Posts: 621
Joined: Aug 2008
3d ? combo pack?
Cyrano's Avatar Cyrano
08:19 PM Liked: 90
post #27 of 94
02-02-2014 | Posts: 5,738
Joined: Jul 2003
Originally Posted by ILOVEMYHDTV View Post

3d ? combo pack?
I thought this was a 3D movie too. But it seems not to be.
Here's a link: http://www.examiner.com/article/ender-s-game-to-shoot-3d-or-not-that-is-the-question
Taranteacher's Avatar Taranteacher
09:00 AM Liked: 88
post #28 of 94
02-04-2014 | Posts: 410
Joined: Sep 2012
Thanks, Ralph! Blind-buying as well! cool.gif
macman13's Avatar macman13
09:17 AM Liked: 11
post #29 of 94
02-04-2014 | Posts: 73
Joined: Jun 2013
I'm ripping it with MakeMKV right now smile.gif
macman13's Avatar macman13
09:19 AM Liked: 11
post #30 of 94
02-04-2014 | Posts: 73
Joined: Jun 2013
Originally Posted by macman13 View Post

I'm ripping it with MakeMKV right now smile.gif
Edit: Wrong post, meant to go under Captain Phillips xD
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