The Giver (2014) Review

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The Giver (2014)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Based on The Giver by Lois Lowry

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Alexander Skarsgård
Odeya Rush
Katie Holmes
Taylor Swift

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Jonas is an 11 (soon to be 12) year old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

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My Opinion:

I’ve just read & reviewed this book HERE (and was lazy & used my same plot synopsis). As always, THE BOOK IS BETTER! I mean, sometimes the film adaptations are okay. However, I was really disappointed with this one so, seriously – please read the book if you have any interest in this story! It’s a quick read. They changed A LOT of details for the movie & made a fairly simple story too over complicated.

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As yet another teenage dystopian film, The Giver is okay. It will probably seem boring to teens, though, as it’s not exactly as exciting or action packed as The Hunger Games. I knew they’d do this but it still pissed me off – they added loads of action that wasn’t in the book and gave small characters WAY bigger and more important roles (Meryl Streep’s character has a small part at the start of the book then you never hear from her again plus the two friends aren’t all that significant). It annoyed me as it’s so obvious they’re trying to compete with Divergent, etc, but the book is a lot more subtle and I think the story works much better without all the movie’s added drama (and romance that every teen film seems to require).

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Okay – Focus! Just talk about the movie…

Let’s see – I did like the Pleasantville black & white thing with added bits of color as the story went on. Don’t think that’s a spoiler as it’s obvious from the trailers (yes, it’s that way in the book too). I was looking forward to that aspect (I did love that in Pleasantville) but I didn’t think the movie handled it quite right all the time. The boy isn’t at all what I pictured & they changed an important thing about his looks as described in the book. Jeff Bridges is okay but more “gruff” and bitter than I’d expected. I hated Katie Holmes’ character and hated how they turned it into a story more about Jonas & his two friends whereas in the book the focus is much more on his family unit & the child they’re taking care of (Gabriel). Dammit! This is impossible. I clearly can’t discuss this movie without constantly comparing it to the book. I give up. JUST READ THE BOOK! 🙂

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Summary:

The Giver has a simple yet powerful story that I felt got lost in all the extra scenes they somehow felt necessary to add into the movie to keep teenage audiences interested. Give teenagers a LITTLE credit & don’t just assume they can’t think for themselves. The movie takes the one main theme & shoves it down the viewers’ throats whereas the book presents things in a way that gives the reader the ability to make up their own mind about things. I feel that the movie leaves no room for discussion afterwards and the ending of the movie is a big disappointment compared to the excellent ending in the book. I really have no idea what to rate this movie as, if I’d NOT read the book, I think I’d have quite enjoyed it. However, knowing that the story is told in a much better way in the book does annoy me. Hmm. The movie is decent enough, I guess. Just do me a favor & read the book first? Please??

My Rating: 6/10

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Sorry – this was a rubbish post! I was actually planning on taking a short break from blogging & leaving My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies as my last post for a while. Go read that HERE instead – that was fun to put together! I’ll start up the reviews again through October with as many horror movies & scary films as I can manage. 🙂

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The Giver by Lois Lowry (Book Review)

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

What It’s About:

Jonas is an 11-year-old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

My Thoughts:

I’ll be honest and admit that I’d never even HEARD of this book before seeing that there would be a movie coming out but it appears that it was quite a famous (and somewhat controversial) one. Published in 1993, I was just too old for it. After spending my pre-teens reading Sweet Valley High then moving onto Christopher Pike, I discovered Stephen King around 12 or 13 and read nothing but him for years. The Giver is a good one, though – I wish there’d been more “dystopian future” YA books when I was young so I could have grown up with those instead of just things like Sweet Valley High (not that I’m dissing Sweet Valley High. It ruled! I even wrote to Francine Pascal & got a SVH audio book in return). 😉 I know the dystopian thing is WAY overdone when it comes to YA fiction these days but, believe me, there wasn’t much of it for us 80’s kids.

It’s a shame that The Giver will be seen as “just another dystopian YA book” now. I’ve only read some of the more current ones, such as The Hunger Games, but The Giver strikes me as being much more simple and aimed at a younger age than the current YA type of books (I’d say maybe ages 9 or 10 to early teens?). I don’t mean “simple” in a bad way, though. I think some of the current stuff can be a bit overblown and, as much as I loved the first two Hunger Games books, the final one was a bit over the top and I found it very disappointing. If I had a pre-teen kid, I’d start them off with The Giver as their introduction to these types of books and it’s one I’d be very happy to have them read as I think it teaches some basic yet important lessons in a way that’s easy for them to understand. It doesn’t overdo things – it actually leaves plenty of things up to the reader to decide and I’m sure makes for some very good discussion (I know it’s apparently read in a lot of schools). Basically, and I’ve said this before, The Giver is Brave New World plus a bit of Fahrenheit 451 for pre-teens and I don’t see that as a bad thing at all. I love things like Brave New World and 1984 and I think The Giver is a great introduction to books like those. I’d highly recommend it to kids of today (or to their parents to encourage their kids to read it) as I think it’s more suitable for them than a lot of current YA fiction seems to be. I can understand why it won the Newbery Medal and is seen as a bit of a modern classic.

Summary:

I realize I haven’t discussed the actual story or characters in this book at all. Jonas is by far the most developed character but, being a fairly short children’s book, we don’t get much character development with anyone. The story is what’s more important here and I found it a solid story that effectively gets its point across and also manages a “good ending” that stays with you (in my opinion – but I won’t go into that at all as I always try to avoid any spoilers). Some may be critical of it being over simplistic but I find that a bit ridiculous as it’s aimed at a pre-teen audience. I also JUST watched the movie a few hours ago, which I’ll try to review over the next few days. I know I’ve not gone into much detail but movie reviews are really more my thing – I’m sure I’ll be discussing things much more in the movie review. All I’ll say about it for now is: READ THE BOOK INSTEAD!!! I highly recommend this book to pre-teens, their parents, and people like me who still enjoy a decent story no matter what age it may be aimed at.

My Rating: 4/5