Ender's Game, for most of its duration, felt like a solid hit. The premise was compelling and was implemented with nice abandon. A few little things kept sticking out negatively for me, but I was willing to ignore them, as the film as a whole encouraged me to ignore its minor errors.
But then the finale came, a finale that was so tonally jumbled and rushed. To make matters worse, it highlighted all the little errors I had found earlier in the film and then highlighted them again in another morbid color. More mistakes pointed themselves out.
Some examples are here then included. The characters of Graff and Anderson from the get-go are already fully interested in the capabilities of the protagonist that is Ender. The two commentate on every action he does and focus on what he must think of them. If I didn't know any better, they're more enamored of him than he is of them. Anderson eventually signs off, and Viola Davis does what she can with the material given to her, but Graff continues on. His verse-work during Ender's final exam with the underused character personified by the underplayed Ben Kingsley seems awkwardly unnecessary. I'm okay with the big plot twist that occurs, and at first it is draw-dropping and powerful, but what follows is done ineffectively and feels sporadic. Harrison Ford as Graff comes aggressively at Butterfield's Ender with a strong vocal acting turn, but then we realize how weak and unconvincing Butterfield in the role has been all along as he tries to squeakily retaliate against Harrison's monstrous persona. The scenes where Ender commands a team to combat the alien threat are unabashedly frenetic, not helped by the fact that we can't exactly see what everyone is getting worked up about. Suddenly some things important to the story that came before are contradicted, previous characterizations are glossed over, and new agendas come out of nowhere and are thrust out as brief epitaphs, quickly rolling into the out-of-left-field end credits. What was before an interesting philosophical character study rapidly loses its cohesion and becomes unfocused. Another thing that wasn't as serious, but still slightly awkward, was how the same colleagues of Ender are constantly recycled in places where you might expect a new character to appear.
Don't get me wrong. Ender's Game was a real treat. It's just that this film, if it were to follow the book, needed to fully realize what its vision was by possibly lengthening its ending, or at least make sure the tale was more fleshed-out. Ender's Game is still a pass, but don't expect its climax or denouement to feel fully satisfying.