The Giver – 3 out of 5
So, it seems The Giver is based on a book of the same name by Lois Lowry that came out in 1993. It was one of those tween dystopian novels that are all the rage now but came out before they were the rage (so, can I say it is the grandfather of the subgenre?). The book is quite acclaimed and loved by a lot of people and it has been fought to get adapted into a film for nearly two decades—by a man in the film, no less. It’s not really surprising that since Twilight and The Hunger Games proved that adapting young adult novels into films—especially when they are about future worlds that are suppose to be perfect but are covering up all kinds of corruption and suppressing people’s desire to be free—basically results in the studio drowning in money, it’s no wonder it was easier to get The Giver made today than it was years ago.
|Sure it's a screencap from the film but it also looks like it was taken from a Goo Goo|
|Everything Bridges does just looks cool.|
|Hopefully they don't get the memory back of that "Because I'm Happy" song.|
|Well, hologram Streep is way less creepy than that|
CGI Jeff Bridges from the Tron film.
|One of her memories that her character had returned to her was being married|
to a guy who was the poster boy to a religion made up by a bad science fiction author.
Visually, The Giver looks fantastic. The stark grayscale that we see while Jonas is living a life under a metaphoric umbrella compared to the vivid color he sees once The Giver opens up his mind to the past may draw parallels to the film Pleasantville but it still worked incredibly well for the story that the film has. Not to mention the designs used for this utopian society are pretty neat to look at, as well. The designs made the world come to life and made it feel legitimate and authentic. It’s also nice to see a dystopian society that comes under the guise of a utopia. It’s a refreshing change from the usual broken down buildings and junk that we see in the likes of Divergent and The Hunger Games (not that I’m calling those movies “junk,” fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games, I'm just talking about the sets and the dilapidated style of future they show).
|This looks like an album cover to a Christian rock band...add in a cross on the horizon|
Additionally, the performances in the film were great. Naturally, Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges were amazing—but I knew that going into the film. You could see the weight of each characters' responsibility in both actors and it added to the level of authenticity the film was putting off. Both Streep and Bridges were playing opposite sides of the same coin and each were pulling in the direction of what they felt was good for the community and the people, and they performed this part amazingly well.
|He just realized how the rug really tied the room together.|
Even some of the smaller parts were done well and made the fictional world the film exists in seem real. For example, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård play Jonas’ parents and both played their parts exceptionally great—especially Holmes…whose time around Scientology might have helped with the emotionless zombie she was playing. I also really enjoyed Odeya Rush as Fiona and seeing her journey of self-discovery as Jonas opens her eyes to all the things their utopia denies them was very interesting. And I really enjoyed Shameless’ Cameron Monoghan as Jonas’ friend Asher who is forced to hunt Jonas down while he is passed the borders of their community. Finally, I was a little taken back by how decent Taylor Swift was in her short role.
|I'm not going to say anything mean about Swift because I don't want to be a hater|
that hates, hates, hates, hates, hates.
In order to make this film work, you needed the right actor for Jonas and, for the most part, I think the production made the correct bet on the right horse with Brenton Thwaites. Despite having a short career, I’ve dug Thwaites performances in both good movies he’s been in and bad ones. Overall, I think Thwaites really hit the right marks with Jonas and really showcased the confusion, fear, and hope he experienced as the Receiver of Memory and watching him try to come to grips with the reality behind the sterilized paradise he lives in and discovering all that his people lost in order to get it was performed wonderfully from him. In fact, the visuals and the performances aren’t the issues this film had and what kept me from really getting into it the way I wanted.
|I'm pretty certain that Meryl Streep wins awards for eating cereal now.|
The only real problem I had with the film was the story just didn’t pack the emotional and dramatic punch it should have had. With the story the way it is, the realization of the reality they live in when characters like Jonas and Fiona learn the truth should have come out of the TV screen like a fist and knock my teeth out with emotion and, as the internet says, hit me right in the feels. But due to what feels like Jonas learning the truth too quickly and characters like Fiona and Asher coming to terms with Jonas’ actions and forgotten memories returned and them being too quick to accept these revelations, the unveiling of what the utopia is really about doesn’t have the weight and gravity it should. Not to mention that the ending is pretty lackluster and, according to what I’ve read on the internet, lacks the ambiguity that the book has.
|Don't give me that look...I still liked the movie.|
In all honesty, this is the only complaint I have about the film. Besides that, I actually enjoyed The Giver. Had the running time been slightly longer and many elements of Jonas’ journey or the doomed first Receiver of Memory been feathered out slightly more, the film might have been a lot stronger and infinitely more dramatic. As it stands, it’s a decent film that tells an interesting story but it just doesn’t do much to stand out.