The success of The Hunger Games spurred Hollywood’s desire for Young Adult Dystopian novels, a case evident with this year’s Divergent and this month’s The Giver. Ironically, The Giver, based on a book published decades before Games and Divergent, not only arrives late to the YA Dyst-nov’s gold rush, but fails to translate to an epic summer blockbuster. Long story short, The Giver is a special treat for fans of the book, especially fans who were forced to read it for their school’s summer reading assignment. However, for the objective viewer lured into the theater by, I don’t know, their girlfriend (or someone else), this movie doesn’t do much to compel the viewer to want more; it comes and goes; it’s fleeting; it’s just, okay. The Giver gives just enough.
Warning: the following review contains spoilers (unless you read the book already).
First things first, I read The Giver for my 7th grade summer reading assignment. I read the book in about two days, and sure, I could say I’m a quick reader, or I was really into the book, but I’ll be truly honest, I had like a week before school started and I still hadn’t written a report. Fortunately, I found the book entertaining, and as cliché as it sounds, I couldn’t put the book down. This film took its sweet time making its big screen debut, but I was ready to be first in line to watch the movie, that is, until I watched the trailer. I became apprehensive at first, but I still welcomed The Giver with open arms, especially after I managed to sit through TMNT last week.
Fans of Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel, The Giver, will absolutely enjoy watching this film, because the movie not only gives a vast array of visuals, but also takes liberties in expanding much of the literature. The film’s first 30 minutes are spent on introducing a sterile and colorless world–one rebuilt upon the ashes of complete and utter destruction. The main character, Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaite, is coming-of-age, and is chosen by grand ceremony to become The Receiver of memory. The only problem is, because he lives in a world void of emotions and suffering, he isn’t considerably prepared for the duties involved in receiving memories–one of which, is the memory of pain. After some time spent receiving memories, Jonas begins to question society and see past its seemingly safe establishment. Kind of like growing up, right?
The Giver seems to have a solid grasp on the core story and the visuals, but what it lacks are the things that made the novel truly powerful. I believe the movie was so caught up on providing the beauty of life that it failed to balance that out with the things that made it ugly. Jonas learned that the people of the community were blissfully unaware of the shackles imposed on their society, the apparent lack (and knowledge) of free will (or even privacy), and he knew they have no idea what it meant to truly live life. The internal struggle he had with himself in the novel was lacking in the film, and it truly trims down the depth of his character. However, none of this takes away from the fact that the movie is visually appealing. If you’re a fan of The Giver, quit waiting and head out to the nearest theater. It’s worth the wait.
The Giver Review: Photo courtesy of thegiverfilm.com