Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: The Giver

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 97 minutes

At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this movie or not, especially in theaters. I remember reading the book back in fourth grade, but I don't remember enough for comparison. Obviously, I did make a decision to take a trip to the theater.

In a seemingly perfect community where there is no war, pain, suffering, differences or choices, Jonas is chosen from a young age to his teenage years to become the receiver of the "real" world. He spends his days visiting an elderly man who we simply know as the Giver and he experiences emotions and special moments that the community has banished.

Among the slew of young adult and even children's novels, there have been an abundance of book adaptations lately. I wasn't expecting The Giver to receive as grand of a reception as recent young adult adaptations The Hunger Games and Divergent, but it was nice to hear that this book was part of some people's childhood. Also, I'm not expecting a number one spot for opening weekend with controversial turtles and a team of iconic action stars grabbing attention of the media and moviegoers. But I'm not saying this movie is bad in the least.

It seems like concepts of a post-apocalyptic world, a nation dependent on young sacrifices, a place where rules, privilege, and region are dictated by classism are very popular choices. With The Giver there is a focus of control of humanity. On paper, the ideas and intentions the elders have in mind for the community sound great. Who wouldn't want to eliminate war, murder, jealousy...simply all sources of conflict. On the other hand, you also take away joy, emotion, and growth. Living in a world of neutrality and sameness isn't that pleasant.

Not only does the movie convey the concept of "taking the good with the bad" with words and character, but in its visuals. Something I really want moviegoers to focus on when watching is color. The community is mostly seen through Jonas quite literally. The world is simply devoid of color until he continues to receive more and more memories from the past. Occasionally, the colorization is through the eyes of the other supporting characters. With such a simple detail, it explains so much of Jonas' growth and advantage he has over the other citizens in the community. Other things that I enjoyed from this movie were the characters and scripting. I believed these characters majority of the time and they really conveyed this idea of being ignorant to all the wonderful things the world used to offer as well as the pain that comes along with it. They accepted every word and idea the elders spoke of and never questioned or pursued their curiosities such as what's beyond the boundary or what is Elsewhere like. Once you learn these sorts of things, you feel hopeful and mortified. To quickly sum up why I want to praise the scripting is that these people, especially the elders, used very specific words to describe things in a lighter tone. Plus, there was a strict rule and even class over the precision of speech. Simply expressing your love for a family member is unheard of and unusual.

While the visuals, characters, pacing, and shortened time length were very good, I suppose The Giver's downfall is that it won't be as memorable as The Hunger Games franchise, Harry Potter, and so on. It is a very enjoyable movie, but once you see it and think about it a month later, there's nothing that makes it stand out, which is a little sad. Even Taylor Swift's small role doesn't make it memorable. I think I can safely lump it together with another young adaptation that came out this year, Vampire Academy. If you have the chance to check out or it was part of your childhood, I would give this movie a chance, because it is very good and easily enjoyable.

Rating: 4.5/5

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