Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Giver – review

The Giver, an adaptation of a young-adult book of the same name, gives a glimpse into a dystopian science-fiction world of 2048. After a large war a “community” has eliminated human emotions, colors, and anything else deemed different that would cause strife or conflict.  All memories of the past have also been blocked.  There are changes in the translation from book to film, but the film works on it’s own.

Jonas has recently reached the age of graduation and is preparing to receive his occupation, an annual right of passage in his community. He was chosen to be the receiver of memories. He begins to meet regularly with an elderly man he affectionately calls “the Giver.” The Giver is able to give him the memories and emotions of the past through physical contact. As Jonas learns more about the past, he comes to discover more about human cruelty and suffering as well.

The actors of the movie give great performances. The Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, and Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, have great chemistry and work really well together. Jonas’s parents, played by Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes, seem like they are characters taken directly from the novel. The choice to make Meryl Streep the Chief Elder was an interesting one since the character was inflated in the film to be a villain.

The overall look of the film is really impressive. Much like the movie Pleasantville, the movie begins as black and white.  As Jonas begins to gain emotions and memories, he begins to see muted colors that become incredibly vibrant. The story is entertaining and the changes between the novel and the movie are at least well meaning. The addition of a love subplot and the changing of Asher’s occupation just to make him an adversary, are odd choices. The changes don’t interrupt the flow of the story so it’s difficult to be overly upset by them.

The Giver is a good adaptation. If you were a fan of the book or wanting to see a new sci-fi movie, I’d recommend catching it as a matinee or as a rental. The movie feels shallow compared to the book but it is more exciting to watch. While not a perfect movie, it is at least entertaining. You will likely have an enjoyable time.

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