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The Giver Reviewed! - From Someone Who Read The Book First

As we speak I have just returned from a private screening of The Giver. Well, I say private. Technically it was because we were the only ones in the whole theatre! But anyway, it was about a year and a half ago that I read the book. It was all because someone mentioned it briefly on #TableTalk over on the Youtube channel SourceFed Nerd. I thought it sounded like a book for me, and promptly purchased it on Amazon. 

I am a slow reader so I found the simple writing of Lois Lowry super easy to read and I got through the book in about 2/3 days. Most people could probably finish it in an evening. Simply; I loved the book. Even the ending; as dissatisfying as it is. (I know that's the whole point)

On to the film. I'm going to say now, this will have spoilers in it! Complete, juicy spoilers! So do not read on if you don't want the book or film spoiled for you. If you are like me and are not too bothered by spoilers then feel free to read on. I've formatted the review so it's a little easier to read through, if you want to skip bits it should be fine; just skip to certain headings. Oh and I purposefully didn't read any reviews prior to writing this!


LAST MODERATE SPOILER WARNING



Pre-Conceived Main Worries:
- Blockbuster hit: I was completely scared that this film was going to be turned into an epic , fast paced blockbuster, scifi 'type' film.

- Love Story: I really didn't want a 'love-story' to overpower the main message of the story. But at the same time I didn't want it to feel as if any 'love' story line added between Jonah and Fiona was just to please Hollywood's idea of a teenage audience.

- Taylor Swift: It's no secret that I am not a Miss. Swift fan. This is where I show up my judgemental side. I was worried again that the film producers were panning to the need of Hollywood. People will only see this film if someone popular is in it, type thing. I didn't want her part to be over-hyped and over written.

- SciFi: Once the trailer was released, I was as excited as I was worried. The introduction of Drones and an overall obvious futuristic setting made me feel uneasy.


Acting: I'm just going to comment on Jonah and The Giver otherwise I'll be here all day!

1. Jonah aka Brenton Thwaites - My initial thoughts were; great a new teenage heartthrob for the masses :/. Please don't turn The Giver into Twilight! I was so surprised by how good his acting was. I believe he is quite a fresh actor, I haven't seen him in anything before. He really carried the role well. He had a great chemistry with The Giver. Although I would liked to of seen him have more 'quality time' with The Giver. Just so I can really connect with them as a sort of 'father/son' relationship. 

2. The Giver aka Jeff Bridges - I'll admit I am not really knowledgeable about Jeff Bridges. I loved how he looked in the trailer and posters. He more or less looked exactly how I imagined him to. Maybe he is a little younger in the film than I thought he would be. To me The Giver was sort of a sympathetic 'grandad' character, I really became fond of him. He was sort of a lovable grump.
I felt this was after the film as well. Of course his acting was perfect, almost effortless in a good way! He seemed totally at ease with this role. I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal. I would really have liked to of seen him get more screen time. I know the film can't be 5 hours long (which is a shame) but just a little longer with him would have been fabulous.

Everyone else in the film carried their character well. I honestly haven't got anything bad to say about any of them. Even those that really didn't have too much of a role. When they were on screen they were, strong and relatable. Taylor Swift really wasn't in the film much at all, which I liked. Rosemary's (Taylor Swift's character) role really wasn't overwritten in anyway, it was perfectly balanced in line with the story.  Skarsgard and Holmes worked great together and amongst the rest of the cast. I personally think that Skarsgard is one of the best actors around, (but I might be bias there). Holmes was great, she really represented Mother in a way that I imagined her.
Let's not forget about little Lilly. Emma Tremblay who played her did a great job in a small role; "The hippo is actually an elephant" *Sass*. Fiona's character wasn't something I particularly enjoyed although Odeya Rush played her well. I wasn't particularly invested in her and Jonah's 'relationship'. I do think the strongest acting came from the older members of the cast, but then that might be obvious and expected.


Plot Changes:
- Drones: Where did those blasted drones come from? Well I agree it did add a little bit of excitement, which I can see was needed in parts. They didn't in anyway take over the film. They were there for affect and when they were needed. So if you are worried about them, don't be.

- Age: It is pretty obvious that Jonas in this film isn't as young as he is in the book. It works well in the book, but I can understand why it was changed for the big screen. I thought it would bother me, but honestly I didn't think about it whilst watching the film.

- Where's the Apple?: I must admit a little peeve of mine is that they didn't include the iconic apple scene. An apple does appear in glorious red, but it isn't as great as in the book. That's okay, but I feel that moment is important.

- It's a love story: Honestly the relationship between Jonas and Fiona didn't cause an issue with me at all. It added a little relief at times, although I feel it wasn't really needed for most audience members. But I do understand that unless you haven't read the book you're probably going to need the added extras.

- No Old People Stirrings: I know it's a slightly awkward moment in the book but I was disappointed that they left it out. In the book Jonas does 'work experience' with the elderly (who haven't been released yet!) When Jonas gives one of the ladies a bath he gets 'stirrings'. This is talked around the table with the family, I remember having a little snigger at the time. Oh well!

- Ending: The ending does match the book, but there is a 'little' difference. I won't say exactly what happens, but I'll just describe it as 'a little added satisfaction'.


Favourite Aspects:
- Perfect Pace: I have heard others say that they found that the receiving of memories part of the film was rushed. I do agree that it felt rushed, but either way we wouldn't be happy. The film would have to be 5 hours long to have everything we want in it. I felt that overall the film was perfectly paced. It didn't feel like a fast paced blockbuster at all (good thing!). I've always said that I would have preferred for it to have been an independent film. And as far as cinematic releases can go this felt (somewhat) like an independent film. I know a lot of people will think it's boring, slow and not strong narrative-wise. But then that is some people, who are probably used to Transformers or something. I think it's great to mix things up sometimes, but I'm just bias towards independent films. I actually found the film quite refreshing.

- Baby Killing: This is going to sound strange, but I'm glad they included the baby release scene with Father. They could have easily changed it and sensitised it, but they left it in how it should be. It's so relevant to the story and Jonas' way of thinking. I'm just glad they didn't replace it with something more child friendly.

- Black and White: Yes they actually made it black and white! Well black and white for the moments that needed it. They really couldn't have done it any other way, could they?!

- The Giver: As I've mentioned, Bridges did a fantastic job. From the time we had with him I really connected to this new Giver we were shown. They show the receiving of memory ever so slightly different from the book, but honestly it works well; maybe even better on screen. You can emotionally connect with the onscreen Giver.

- Baby Gabriel: Well he really stole the show. What a cutie. I was surprised how much they actually used the baby in the film. He was so cute and that's all I really need to say about the matter. It was also unbelievably heart warming to see Skarsgard caring for a little baby. Let's not talk about the other baby incident...

- Pain: I love that they tackled the pain aspect of receiving memories. I felt quite emotional when memories were shown. Especially at the end. It made me think on a more philosophical level, which is exactly how I was thinking when reading the book. I felt proud and ashamed at humanity which is exactly what being a human is like.

- Ending: I'm not going to say what the ending was, as I said earlier. Just know it was one of my favourite parts of the movie. It was satisfying in a new way, but I was happy that they didn't deviate from the book narrative too much. Again, perfectly balanced.


Last Thoughts: 
Before the release I was so worried about how they'd represent this amazing story. When it comes to book adaptations on the big screen you always have to allow for changes. The fact is narrative in a book doesn't always translate well on screen. Of course there are differences in The Giver film, but I honestly feel these changes do not deviate from the main philosophical themes of the story. It didn't feel Hollywood at all, it felt humble, balanced and philosophical; everything I could have wished for. 

If you haven't read the book:
Honestly, if you want to truly get the most of this film, and link with it in the way it should be; I would recommend reading the book first. The fact it's such a short book really helps, it  won't take long to read it at all.

If you have read the book:
Yay! I think you'll love the film, just be open to slight change. If you've already seen the film I really, really want to know what you thought of it. Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you enjoyed this review. I always try and not ramble on but then I always love a ramble. For UK readers I think that a lot of people won't have heard of The Giver before, so that explains how unpopular it was in the cinema today! I'm sure it will be more popular in the US, as many children have to read it in school. I wish we got to do the same. Let's face it the film could have been A LOT worse. Thank you for taking the time to read the review, and well done if you managed to get through it all! Till next time lovely readers.

So far IMDB has given it a 6.8 out of 10. (not bad)
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics give it 35% (WHAT!) and Audience give it 64% (Not too bad.)

Most reviews on Rotten Tomatoes by 'Top Critics' made me angry, here is one that I agreed with 100%:

"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."- Amy Nicholson
 
And can I just say that this comment from 'ericthewrestler' just shows the hollowness of some youth today: "I thought it was ok, but not as good as The Hunger Games or Divergent. It lacked the action and thrills that those 2 scifi films had." - He COMPLETELY missed the point, yet again I'm not sure it's worth him knowing the point. *bangs head on wall*


xxx

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