May 30, 2019

One of the fantastic movies that is featured on Amazon Prime’s streaming video service is Ender’s Game.  A fantastic science fiction epic based on Orson Scott Card’s best selling novel also called Ender’s Game, featuring Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld with Asa Butterfield in the titular role of Ender.  The book was critically acclaimed but the movie struggled to get traction at the box office as it only grossed around $125 million against its budget of about $110 million.  This paltry box office take was a premature end to a potential film franchise, as the book series now spans sixteen novels and several short stories and other ancillary media, which now ends after just one film adaptation.  The story follows a society at war with an alien race called the Formic, where after two previous rebuffed invasions humanity prepares for a third invasion and in their race to preparation discover the genius of young Ender and they then use that tactical genius to strike first and end the war.  Overall it’s a tense and interesting movie, but it has it’s obvious flaws and failings that helped limit the box office take and overall limited the growth of a film franchise. With that in mind, here are 7 movies like Ender’s Game that you can watch instead:

 

Valerian and the city of a Thousand Planets

For fans of Ender’s Game though, there are numerous films in the same or similar vein as that movie available on the Amazon Streaming service including films like Valerian and the city of a Thousand Planets.  A fast paced and visually interesting film based on a French comic book series called Valerian and Laureline, the film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne in the title roles and co stars such actors as Rihanna, Clive Owen and Ethan Hawke among others.  The complicated film is the most expensive European independent film with various sources of funding pulled together by the producer, writer, director Luc Besson and cost an estimated $180 million dollars.  The film was loved by critics for its visuals and world building but the performances were not appreciated as much, and while the film did recoup its costs and the box office tickets exceeded expectations it didn’t make enough money to justify a sequel.  The story centers around a city that initially began as the International Space Station and overtime a series of interconnecting spaceships grew into a large crazy city in space, and the rogueish Valerian and his inability to commit to Laureline.  It’s a charming story with big revelations towards the end and eventually a happy ending.

 

Battleship

One of the most unsuccessful movies similar to Ender’s Game on Amazon is Battleship.  Released in 2012 and starring Taylor Kitsh, Brooklyn Decker and Rihana, this film debuted to a paltry sum of money at the box office as critics eviscerated it.  Based on the Hasbro board game, the movie followed the story of a group of warships in the middle of war games that encounter an alien spaceship and obviously action movie antics ensue.  The film cost over $200 million dollars to make and while filming initially was in Australia for tax reasons, the breaks weren’t available and filming moved to Hawaii.  The release date also pushed back from sometime in 2011 to May of 2012, which in movie terms is also never a great sign.  Between pushing back the release date and changing the film location and the questionable origin of the film license, basing a film on a board game was never an exciting proposition in the public, the film’s success seemed like an uphill battle and in the end was too much to overcome.  The film while filled with several high profile stars and a large marketing budget was considered a resounding failure even though it made about $80 million over it’s $220 million production budget worldwide.

 

Jupiter Ascending

Amongst the many great science fiction movies on Amazon Prime’s streaming service, Ender’s Game is a noteworthy film in the science fiction genre.  There are tons of movies along the same lines of Ender’s Game, including Jupiter Ascending.  Starring two of the more well known stars in pop culture, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, the film had one of the more tumultuous journeys to release than most big budget films.  After several delays on the release of the film, eventually the movie released over a year after its initial release date, due to poor screenings leading to more special effects raising the budget from $130 million to $200 million.  The movie was created and filmed by the Wachowskis and was described conceptually as the Matrix meets Star Wars and had some of the most elaborate practical effects in Hollywood including a chase scene that required Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis to shoot everyday for six months straight.  Eventually the film did in fact come out to much lower than expected box office results essentially breaking even at $189 million in box office tickets vs between $175 and $200 million in spending.  The movie was hailed by a few critics as a strong movie for young, empowered women but overall the film was a confusing plot hole riddled mess according to most.

 

The Martian

The science fiction genre has many similar story types and concepts and another movie similar to Ender’s Game on Amazon Prime’s streaming service is The Martian.  The Martian is a movie based on a book written by Andy Weir, and directed by Ridley Scott and starred Matt Damon.  The movie was an awesome journey in an impossible situation and was well received by both critics and fans alike, exceeding box office expectations while getting great reviews.  The film followed Astronaut and botanist Mark Watney who during a massive storm on the surface of Mars is left behind and presumed dead, but in actuality is alive and left behind on Mars.  He manages to use his resources and ingenuity to make it over two years alone on Mars in order to eventually be rescued by his crew who returned to get him.  The movie was praised by how closely it worked with NASA to get stuff right and was a fantastic turn for Matt Damon and a welcome success for Ridley Scott who had recently struggled at the box office.  The Martian remains a feel-good stalwart in the science fiction genre.

 

Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

The most unique film in this collection of films on Amazon Prime that’s similar to Ender’s Game is Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt action movie.  Based on a Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill”, the story follows Cruise’s Major Cage as he is forced to help a beachfront battle against an alien invasion.  During the battle he is killed in action but due to the creature’s abilities to manipulate time he is trapped in a temporal loop with the invading creatures and begins attempting to use this to his advantage with the aid of Emily Blunt’s character, affectionately called The Full Metal Bitch.  Blunt’s Sergeant Vrataski is a previous survivor of the effect that Cage is experiencing and wants to use the effect to end the war completely.  The movie has a humorous tone to what begins to feel like a hopeless situation, trapped in an endless loop of violence and death, Cage struggles with desperation and a lack of hope.  Eventually the pair are able to save the world and end the war but at great personal sacrifice which they are then rewarded for with one last jump back through time.  The film was well reviewed and was well received at the box office with ticket sales exceeding expectations and did well enough that a sequel has been in discussion a few times.

 

Tron: Legacy

Another fun film in the science fiction genre is Tron: Legacy.  The sequel to Tron, was twenty eight years in the making, picking up after the first film the story follows Garrett Hedlund playing Sam the son of Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn.  In the film Kevin Flynn has been missing all this time, in reality he’s stayed behind in the artificial world of his own creation, The Grid.  In it there’s been a change and now the programs are ruled and building an army seeking a way into the real world to wage a war against humanity.  Flynn has been protecting the last “live” program, Quorra played by Olivia Wilde, and has been hiding in The Grid to keep Earth safe.  The arrival of his son changes the detente between The Authority of The Grid and Kevin Flynn.  The movie is fantastic and the lighting and costume and set design was iconic creating a futuristic look while still embracing the visuals of the old world and film.  Making over $400 million dollars at the box office and receiving high praise for its visuals and music, the film has been circled numerous times by Disney for launching a new trilogy but details have never been ironed out and a script has never been finalized.

 

 

Elysium

Elysium is another fantastic science fiction movie on Amazon Prime.  Set in a futuristic earth, Matt Damon plays Max De Costa, a career criminal attempting to reform who works in a robot production facility, that supplies robots used to maintain the society overseen by the elites who live on Elysium.  A space based, paradise orbiting Earth where elite levels of technology exist to keep the wealthy healthy and comfortable.  De Costa is accidentally poisoned with high levels of radiation and is given only days to live.  The technology required to fix him exists on Elysium and so in an effort to save himself, he agrees to help criminal overlord Spider steal a program that they think can be ransomed.  Instead it turns out the program they steal could reprogram Elysium and literally help save everyone on Earth from disease and injury.  Suddenly the mission to save himself becomes an opportunity to right the world and Max embraces his shot at something bigger.  With awesome turns from Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley and set in an amazing world created by Neil Blomkamp, Elysium was an awesome movie.  Only the second feature film written and directed by Neil Blomkamp, the film while not as well received as District 9, his debut, but was still well received and grossed $286 million against a budget of roughly $100 million dollars.  With some great action sequences and fun futuristic technologies, Elysium is an interesting story that takes its time and develops a world worth enjoying and watching.  The character of Kruger is gleefully sadistic and the ultimate action bad guy making him the perfect foil for Damon’s Max, who is trying to be a good guy in a hard world.  Ultimately the message of inequality and elitism is worthy of satire and great storytellers can apply those elements successfully to an interesting story and Blomkamp captures that spirit and tells a great story.

 

In the wide-open field of science fiction there are certain themes and elements that are easier to apply to the genre.  A lot of those themes are evident in movies like Ender’s Game, the themes of destiny and war and hard choices and those themes turn up again and again in many science fiction movies.  Films like Edge of Tomorrow, The Martian, Valerian, Jupiter Ascending and various others touch on several of those parallel concepts and are available for viewing on Amazon Prime’s streaming service right now.  The films are comprised of several successful box office hits with tons of high profile actors in great films with wonderful special effects telling incredible stories.  Stories that are similar to Ender’s Game and available for watching on Amazon Prime.

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