(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)
The Giver is an interesting story from the beginning, with director Phillip Noyce crafting a great picture as the book intended it to be, but thought the ending was not thrilling at all, and left me kind of blindsided and empty, not the kind of message the book intended it to be. Rating 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
I remember being introduced to the book, “The Giver, when I was in Middle School. We started reading and discussing it as a class, and a lot of us were interested in what this book have to offer. I wasn’t much of a reader, but was engaged with the discussions on the beginning of the story. Mind you that I was in a religious conservative private school. All of a sudden our teacher said we were not reading The Giver anymore, and we were reading a another book that was boring. Needless to say, my class was in shock and asked why? Our teacher wouldn’t really answer the question, and said we’re reading this book now and that’s that. A lot of my classmates at the time were disappointed. My gut feeling was someone’s parents complained to the teacher that that book wasn’t appropriate for their religious beliefs. Turns out I was right hearing through the grapevine. I remember talking to my brother who read the book in a public school, and he was outraged that parents found this book controversial. When he told me what the book was about and how it happened, I didn’t understand why these parents made such an issue out of it. Especially with children’s books now that are more intense than The Giver like The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series. Anyway, they finally made this book into a movie, and willing to see visually what this book is all about. I will start with what I liked, to the so so, to what I didn’t like.
What I liked, the book describes how in this society living with these special rules on how to live, and how people see what everybody else sees. A society with no emotion or feeling, just everybody doing what they are suppose to do. Director, Phillip Noyce, creates a great depiction of the setting of the story from beginning to end. Exactly how the book describes its society, Noyce created it beautifully. My favorite part is the protagonist named Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, who is chosen to be the memory receiver, and receiver all the memories of the past history. Before he did, what he saw was what the society saw which was all black and white. Eventually, he started to see color which was red, and as the movie progresses, the more color you see. I thought that was excellently executed to give us that visual look. It was probably what the author, Lois Lowry, intended it to be visualized and seen. Jeff Bridges was perfect as The Giver, you get the sense that he doesn’t like how the society is now, and wanted to get somebody that could change it cuz he can’t do it himself, and found it with Jonas. He was a good trainer as The Giver, and acted well. I liked how Thwaites acted as Jonas, he showed some true emotion in his part of the story, and you knew that he was different which made him nervous living in this type of society. He has two friends named Asher, played by Cameron Monaghan and Fiona, played by Odeya Rush. Asher was the goofy guy who likes to tread the line, but not break the society rules. Fiona plays a girl with a lot of compassion and pretty much played the love interest for Jonas. The deeper meaning that I got from the book is whether people should have free will or not? Some people believe people with free will will lead to evil and destruction. While other believes free will is a right for everybody and suffer the consequences of our choice. Luckily, I believe in a God that gives us that choice of free will, and make us as real humans, not robots which this movie shows.
The so so, the story pretty much reminds you of the typical stories being told in the past recent movies. It is practically the story like The Hunger Games and Divergent. A dystopian future where people have to follow by the rules of society, and it takes one person to make a difference. The Giver was no different which is probably why people might not have liked it. But understand that The Giver as a book was published way before The Hunger Games or Divergent. So what is the true original story? Probably one of the few movies where Meryl Streep didn’t stand out with her acting. She played The Chief Elder of the society, and the antagonist of the story. She wasn’t necessary evil, but fighting to keep the norm of the society and nothing else. To me, she acted plain which is not Meryl Streep like, but for the movie it makes sense, they could’ve gotten an unknown actress to play the same part. Instead they waste money in wasting Streep’s talent.
What I didn’t like, the final part of the movie was a bore to say the least. Usually the final part of any movie is the most thrilling. All this movie was Jonas running through the dessert trying to reach the border like an illegal immigrant (nothing against immigrants, all for jokes, my mom was an illegal immigrant before y’all judge). It wasn’t explained well, and when it was all over I was like that’s it? No more telling what happens with the society now that everyone can see and know what happened? It left me blindsided and empty. They kind if abruptly ended it to a point where I don’t even care what happens. I mean when movies are thrilling they keep you engaged with its intensity, but really the only intense scene was when they show Jonas, that the babies who don’t make their minimum weight gets euthanized. (That can be intense for most people, including myself.) At the end, no intensity, no thrills, no big point emphasis, just rolling if the credits. The book really had more emphasis in the end with better feeling, so that was disappointing from the book standards. Also, seeing Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard playing Jonas parents was laughable seeing them playing the stiffs that follow the rules of their society. Just blah with their acting, but whatever.
Overall, the vision of the book is was mostly there, except for the boring ending. It might follow the shadows of past dystopian future movies, but remember that this book was published before the other books were published. As for the parents of my classmates who didn’t want us to read the book, I believe you all were too paranoid for what the book gives, and it gives a deeper message which you all could’ve got if you have given it a chance. Next time don’t judge the book by its cover, cuz it will give you a negative connotation of what being a Christian is all about!!! (Ok, enough of me ranting.) Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
(Sidenote-Sabotage: This film features Arnold Shwarzenegger with a horrible haircut. Director David Ayer created a real bloody cop/DEA movie. It was an interesting movie at the beginning kind of like a drug case/heist movie, but once it got to the typical good guy turned villain type of movie, all it did was create a lot of confusion in what is going on and who is the real villain here. Once you find out it’s Arnold himself, and stole the money for revenge on The Cartel who killed his family, it took a turn a turn for the worst. If you into bloody shoot outs and what not, you will like this movie. For me, too much blood can get me squeamish. Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.