Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Giver

Books to Movies is a feature where I review movies based off books! These reviews are for people who have read the book, so spoilers are definitely within.

Rated: PG-13

Is it worth watching?

Yes, but probably not in theaters; wait until it's out in the Redbox or Netflix. It's a pretty slow movie with a plot that isn't necessarily massively interesting for people who have never read the book. It's a movie that can easily be enjoyed on a smaller screen.

Is it clean?

Yes. Aside from some violence, there isn't anything graphic and no profanity.

How is the cast?

They did an excellent job with the cast. For someone who has never read the book, the acting may seem very flat. But as I have read the book, I appreciated the actors' being able to portray the characters' lack of emotion and almost childlike innocence. Yes, they upped the ages of the main characters: Jonas, Fiona, Asher. Surprisingly, I was all right with it. Brenton Thwaites was a very good Jonas, and I liked how we actually got to know Fiona and Asher a lot more in the movie. I wasn't sure how I was going to like Jeff Bridges as The Giver, but he actually worked quite well. And Meryl Streep was, of course, excellent in her role as well.

Did the story stay close to the book?

In spirit, it did. There was still the same message, the same themes were explored. In terms of the actual events, the movie was very different. And dare I say it - the movie was better. I really like the book The Giver, but my main complaint with it is that it doesn't really go anywhere and it ends extremely abruptly. The concept is awesome, there's the beginnings of really good characters, but. . . .it just kind of. . . .doesn't go. . . .anywhere. The movie had a more definite plot, more sinister goings on - while still maintaining the important things that happened in the book that create the storyline.
Did they even get the little things right?

They also changed the little things. Fiona doesn't work with the old people; she becomes a Nurturer. They, in fact, totally leave out the old folks' home, but it's briefly mentioned. Asher is assigned the position of pilot rather than being put in charge of recreation. This gives his character a much bigger role in the overall story, and I liked it. Jonas's defining difference that marks him as The Receiver isn't the color of his eyes; it's a small birthmark on his wrist. I understood this change; it's a little harder to show eye color in a black-and-white movie than in a book. The movie also didn't explore some of the other concepts of the Community that the book did. Movies rarely do, and it was those parts that I liked better in the book than the movie.

But the ending is good, right?

The ending is much more exciting and a lot less abrupt. The Community Elders put forth much more of an effort in trying to capture Jonas and Gabriel - and then doing away with him. Fiona gets involved in Jonas's escape, which in turn makes her a traitor to the Elders and they deal with her accordingly. But we also get to see the effect of the Community getting back their memories and emotions in the end.

So if I absolutely adore the book, will I like the movie?

It depends. If you really like the book, like me, but acknowledge its flaws, you'll like the movie a whole lot more than the book. The things they add make the plot much more interesting. If, however, you looooove the book and don't want to ever see it changed - even if it's for the better - you won't like the movie at all. Because it is different. I liked the differences, but I also didn't grow up with this book.


  1. I saw the movie this weekend, and I definitely understand all the changes they made. That said, while they did a decent job portraying the memories and the impact thereof, I think the newness and shock and learning was much more effective in writing. And their choices for the memory shots were interesting.

    1. Yeah, the choices for memory shots were rather interesting. No Spanish Inquisition or Holocaust.


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