Online forums are already raging about the differences between the book by Lois Lowry and the film adaptation distributed by The Weinstein Co.
Originally, I thought it would be similar to “The Host,” but actually it’s a gender flip of “Divergent,” which is a copycat of “The Hunger Games.”
All of these teen book adaptations have the same plot devices — they just call them something different.
“The Hunger Games” had a lottery, “Divergent” had factions and “The Giver” calls it the ceremony of advancement.
Unlike the other films, “The Giver” gives us little in hopes of making us want more; instead, it feels more like a pilot episode or a preface to a story that we have to wait for, and if the film flops, we may never see it continued (i.e. “The Golden Compass”).
After the Ruin, the elders have eliminated conflict in humans by insisting on daily injections that remove the understanding of color, love, war and anything else that makes us human.
The world now exists as a controlled substance where babies are assigned to parents, children educated then assigned to jobs and the elderly disposed of.
Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) was the last standing during the ceremony of advancement; he was unsure of himself already, but now the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) appears and tells him he has been chosen as the new receiver of memory.
Unlike his friends, he will study and learn from The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who will pass down knowledge of things most never knew existed.
Just like comparing “Divergent’s” similarities to “The Hunger Games” were unavoidable, so it is with “The Giver,” which really makes me question whether these female authors all know each other.
“The Giver” isn’t out to make a big splash; the special effects sequences are small in comparison, the scope of the series is only hinted at as much of the film is just dialogue and explanation — no action sequences here.
“The Giver” feels like a preface to a story that is just beginning to get its feet wet; however, there isn’t enough here to get an audience excited for the next chapter.
Phillip Noyce is a hit-or-miss director; his thrillers like “The Bone Collector” or Oscar-nominated “The Quiet American” delivered elements of originality but weren’t wholesomely fantastic pictures.
“Why would anyone want to get rid of this?” Jonas asks after “The Giver” shows him what dancing looks like. If Lowry (or the screenwriters who apparently butchered her book) are trying to say anything, it’s that the world isn’t so different in the future, that those in control of rules, laws and the way of life will always have their own agendas.
“It’s just murder under a different name,” Jonas says about what he witnesses.
Walden Media has had fair success with their “Chronicles of Narnia” series, and this could prove to be their next big moneymaker or audiences might be oversaturated with teenage futuristic utopian film series.
Final thought: The male version of “Hunger Games” or “Divergent.”
STARRING: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift