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Nerdlocker Movie Review: The Giver


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The Giver

I have not read Lois Lowry’s Newbury award-winning children’s novel The Giver, and went into the movie blind.

Having not even seen the trailer, I didn’t know what to expect from Hollywood’s latest literary adaptation. All I had to go on were two images, neither of which gave much insight. One was the cover of the novel- a black-and-white picture of an old man with a long beard- and the other was the terrible poster above.

I was pleasantly surprised by the story, a science-fiction tale of a “utopian” society where everything is strictly monitored and controlled. Babies are assigned families, people are assigned jobs, and they don’t have the ability to feel or love. It is a cold, sterile world full of mandatory injections, false pleasantries, and Orwellian restriction, all for the sake of a peaceful society.

This world lacks music, color, and memory. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to be “Receiver of Memory”, the one person in society with access to the history of their culture and the knowledge of the way things used to be. Jeff Bridges plays “The Giver”, the previous “Receiver of Memory” that will pass on the wisdom to Jonas. I gotta say, I was expecting a better beard on Jeff Bridges. His facial follicles aren’t touching the guy on the book cover’s. Missed opportunity.

Brenton Thwaites does a fine job in the lead role and I like the scenes with him and Bridges in The Giver’s magnificent cliff-side library dwelling. Meryl Streep plays “The Chief Elder” and Katie Holmes is Jonas’ mother. Both make the most out of small parts though the script doesn’t give them much time or depth.

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I want to read the book. I like the world created, but once the story is underway, the movie has a rushed/compressed feeling like it’s trying to fit too much in. I think a lot of the detail and nuance was probably lost and it feels like much of the story was glazed over. The book probably goes into better detail, allowing for a more palatable ending, which in the film feels convenient and inevitable.

I think that had I read the book first, I would be more disappointed with the movie. I probably would be protective over the world created in my mind as special effects can rarely top a fertile imagination. Having seen the movie first, I found it mostly enjoyable, but awfully forgettable. I like the story, but it seems better suited for a novel.

2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls

Check out Seraph’s review for the perspective of somebody familiar with the source material.

The trailer:

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.