I have to get one thing off my chest before I begin my review of “The Giver,” a movie inspired by Lois Lowry’s novel—I have not read the book. Yes, I am one of the handful of millennials who managed to avoid reading this staple of Gen Y literature in high school. It was however, a summer reading option, so I did however sit through several class discussions about the book. That counts for something, right? I like to think I went into the movie a blank slate, much like our protagonist, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites).
Jonas lives in a world void of color, literally and figuratively. It’s a future with no war, no disease, and no cruelty; all good things, except when paired with no questioning, no curiosity, and no imagination.
Jonas is a little different though, he sees things others don’t (quite literally). It’s this ability to see beyond that catches they eye of the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) and upon graduation, Jonas is chosen to become the next Receiver of Memories.
Along with the no war, cruelty, etc., there’s also no memory of the way the world was before the current “utopia.” There is one citizen chosen to know and consult based on their knowledge, but Jonas’ predecessor, referred to only as The Giver (Jeff Bridges), has bigger plans for Jonas.
What’s most apparent about “The Giver,” which is unfortunate, is that we’ve heard far too many similar stories in recent years. Jonas could easily Katniss in “The Hunger Games” or Tris in “Divergent.” Although the novel predates both popular series, and most likely inspired the mass interest in such series to begin with, this movie’s biggest fault is taking too long to make it to the big screen.
The premise for “The Giver” is fantastic, but familiar. “The Giver” has a lot of things going for it, a great cast, a great premise, and a fan-base 21 years in the making. Unfortunately it’s about two years too late.