'The Giver' Review Roundup: Critics Mixed On Latest Young Adult Novel Adaptation
Adapted from Lois Lowry’s Newbury Medal-winning novel, The Giver tries to recreate an ignorantly utopian society’s potential deliverance from Sameness by a young man named Jonah.
Australian actor Brenton Thwaites stars as Jonah, the citizen of the community who is entrusted with becoming their next Receiver of Memory, which makes him the only one aside from The Giver (Jeff Bridges) who knows anything about the world pre-Sameness. Disregarding the rules outlined by the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep), Jonas endeavors to find a way to give back to the people – namely his crush Fiona (Odeya Rush) – a full life of emotions and color, and save a sickly baby named Gabe.
The Giver Reviews
The Giver is hitting theaters at a time when they’ve been crowded with young adult novel adaptations based in an unknown future with unfamiliar, authoritarian societies. For that reason, many critics found the Philip Noyce-directed The Giver adaptation dull. While it was the first of its kind in book form, it's late to the part on the big screen. Others, however, found the picture a refreshing change from the other adaptations of its kind. Furthermore, newcomers Thwaites and Rush were praised for their performances.
“The Giver is more simple and raw than the rest of today's teen dystopias that try to cram in unnecessary backstory and love triangles. What's Jonas going to do about his hermetically uncool community? You can probably guess, despite the town elder's (Meryl Streep) caution that "when people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong every single time." But teens and preteens who choose to buy tickets to The Giver, an imperfect but straightforward charmer that respects their intelligence, could choose much, much worse.” – Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly
“With so many Y.A. books and films walking the same dystopian terrain, the story of The Giver doesn't feel as fresh as it once did. But Noyce, working from an adaptation by screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide, finds a compelling through-line, as Jonas begins to experience sensations of love, and loss, and, well, everything. "If you can't feel, then what's the point?" the protégé asks his master, defiantly. Bridges' Giver is reluctant to answer directly. He knows a whole can of worms is about to be opened.” Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Giver was ahead of its time as a book. But as a movie, it’s too late.Published in 1993, Lois Lowry’s young-adult novel was a deeply felt, kid-centered dystopian fantasy. Its world of children learning what their “perfect” society had lost was both archetypal yet new. But on screen, 21 years later, The Giver will feel too familiar after two editions of The Hunger Games, as well as Ender’s Game and Divergent — plus The Maze Runner and the third Hunger Games coming later this year. As a result, The Giver is a bland also-ran in a world it helped create.” – Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
“It's not a lousy experience. Taylor Swift shows up in a glorified cameo. Thwaites has promise; Rush has more than that. But for a movie decrying the concept of societal "sameness," The Giver is a hypocritical movie indeed. The Giver gives off an air of wearying familiarity, without much in the way of design wiles or cinematic wonder beyond the spectacle of Streep competing for her share of the movie against her own hair.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
The Giver, rated PG-13, is currently in wide release.