I hope I don’t have to spell this out for you, but this is going to be spoilery if you haven’t seen the film yet (or read the book). So go do those things before you read this. Then come back!
Ready? Here comes the spoilers!
Ender realizes that he’s just committed genocide, stumbles out of the command center, wanders into a Formic cave, discovers an egg, has a telepathic conversation with a dying Formic queen who WIPES HIS TEARS AWAY WITH HER GIANT ANT FOOT, and then sets off to colonize a new Formic world with his egg. At this point I had three main thoughts, in roughly this order: 1. Wha. 2. Tha? 3. F$%#.
To be fair, the book’s ending is pretty out-there too, since it packs one huge revelation after another and spins the story in an entirely new direction. And editing was necessary to keep the movie under, I don’t know, seventeen-and-a-half hours long. (It actually clocked in at a brisk 114 minutes.) But there was a huge amount happening here — our first real glimpse of a Formic, Ender’s change of heart, the whole craziness with the game being a conduit for telepathic communication with the alien ant people (honestly just reread that phrase a couple times). It all hit so hard and fast that I felt like I had accidentally fallen asleep and missed the 30 minutes of solid exposition we’d need to get to that point. I still say kudos to the filmmakers for wrangling such an unwieldy story into a workable movie — it’s a huge achievement. But as far as endings go, Ender’s left me more than a little puzzled.
I too, was somewhat annoyed by the ending. I know I’m not usually the champion for longer movies, but I thought that the movie could have been a little longer to bring this film more in step with the book. The book’s ending is indeed a little bit out there, but the way it was adapted for the film was just downright confusing. If I had not read the book I would be so confused. I can’t imagine how anyone not having read the book would be able to make sense out of what happened.
I have not read any of the other books in the series yet — it was all I could do to get Ender’s Game read before the film came out — but it’s obvious there’s more to come, and it’s obvious they want more films to come as well. So it seems like they should have spent just a little more time to do the ending properly.