Ender’s Game has had a long and troubled path to the big screen. Despite the acclaim and popularity surrounding Orson Scott Card’s novel, the author refused to part with the film rights for years. When he did relent, multiple screenwriters — including Game of Thrones’ D.B. Weiss and David Benioff — took passes at an adaptation, but the movie never materialized. When things finally moved forward with writer-director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Ender’s found its pre-release buzz overwhelmed by boycott talks thanks to Card’s own strident anti-gay views, an issue that Harrison Ford himself eventually had to address.

With Ender’s Game arriving in theaters, the conversation can now shift to the merits of the movie itself, for better and worse. It’s a polished sci-fi epic with the kind of sheen and stunning visual effects that should appeal to mainstream audiences, and while it doesn’t reach the lofty thematic heights it aspires to — nor carry the moral complexity of the novel — it’s nevertheless an entertaining ride with some unique and timely issues on its mind.