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The Giver

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The Giver
220px-The Giver poster.jpg
A good book that sadly got adapted into a subpar movie.
Genre: Drama
Dystopian
Directed By: Philip Noyce
Produced By: Nikki Silver
Jeff Bridges
Neil Koenigsberg
Written By: Michael Mitnick
Robert B. Weide
Based On: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Starring: Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Alexander Skarsgård
Katie Holmes
Taylor Swift
Cameron Monaghan
Odeya Rush
Emma Tremblay
Photography: Black and White
Color
Cinematography: Ross Emery
Distributed By: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: August 11, 2014 (Ziegfeld Theatre)
August 15th, 2014 (United States)
Runtime: 97 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $25 million
Box Office: $67 million


The Giver is a 2014 American social science fiction film directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Cameron Monaghan, Emma Tremblay, Taylor Swift, Thabo Rametsi, and Alexander/James Jillings. The film is based on the 1993 novel The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Plot

Jonas lives in a seemingly idyllic world of conformity and contentment. When he begins to spend time with The Giver, an old man who is the sole keeper of the community's memories, Jonas discovers the dangerous truths of his community's secret past. Armed with the power of knowledge, Jonas realizes that he must escape from their world to protect himself and those he loves -- a challenge no one has ever completed successfully.

Bad Qualities

  1. False Advertising: In the poster, it's supposed to show that Fiona is with Jonas throughout much of the movie, but in reality, Fiona rarely gets screen time.
  2. Laughable and poor acting.
  3. It can get too dark for a PG-13 movie when The Giver accidentally transfers a war memory to him looking like a R-rated bootleg of Saving Private Ryan, and in one scene where hunters shoot elephants and the elephants fall down and dies on-screen.
  4. Cartoony and ugly CGI.
  5. The idea of civilization's freedom being limited is cliched and has been overused many times.
  6. Very poor grasp of the source material:
    • Ceremony of Twelves is renamed to Ceremony of the Grown, which makes some form of sense here as one of the jobs given to women involves being a birthmother.
    • Jonas is now 17 while in the book he was 12. It's possible that this was done to make teenage girls see a new Edward Cullen/Peeta.
    • Asher was given a job called "drone pilot" when in the book he was given a job from the recreation center.
    • Gabriel became part of family unit after Jonas was selected but in the book he came right before the ceremony.
    • Jonas never got a dance memory in the book but in the movie, he did.
    • When Jonas leaves, his best friend, Asher, tries to stop him from breaking the rules, but instead gets into a fight and Jonas punches him, but that's not what he did in the book, because Asher is Jonas' best friend, and best friends don't punch each other. Plus, Asher didn't try to stop him in the book and and this scene is not only pointless, but also leaves a plothole. How can he be awake in the middle of the night?
    • Fiona is planned to get released in the movie but in the book, she was never planned nor even released.
    • In the book, the bicycles are not explicitly described, but in the movie, they are made to look futuristic by 2014 Hollywood standards, which makes the movie dated.
  7. The ending, while strong, is still much less ambiguous than in the novel. As it has Jonas and Gabe actively sledding toward the faint sounds of music. But here, it's much more heavily alluded that they survived than in the novel, and, as a result, it isn't quite as interesting as in the book. Although author Lois Lowry has made it clear that the two did survive by later installments in the series.

Good Qualities

  1. The happy moments are pretty good.
  2. Some tolerable characters such as Asher and Lily.
  3. Good acting performances by Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush. Jeff Bridges as The Giver was actually a decent casting choice.
  4. Strong ending, even if it wasn't as interesting as in the book.
  5. It gets the main points of the novel right.
  6. Fiona is given a much larger role here than in the book. There, she didn't have a huge amount of impact on the overall story. But here, she has more chemistry with Jonas and a much larger role in terms of the story.
  7. One would think that the movie would go out of its way to give Taylor Swift as much screen time as possible, but thankfully it doesn't.

Reception

Critical reception is mixed-to-negative. It currently holds a 35% Rotten Tomatoes rating. The site's critical consensus reads, "Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas." The score on Metacritic is 47 out of 100. However, it did win Truly Moving Picture Award from Heartland Film 2014.

Trivia

  • The film was released twenty-one years after its source novel's debut.
  • Dianna Agron reportedly auditioned for this film.

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