Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book-to-Movie Review: The Giver, and How it Kind of Surprised Me

Some of you may remember my post last week on 6 Reasons Why I'm Terrified to See the Giver Movie. You may also remember my crazy ranty-ness throughout the post and through other social media avenues the past few weeks as I re-read and reviewed The Giver and had a lot of time to think about everything. I was thoroughly convinced that I would hate every single aspect of the movie and that we'd have a repeat of Beautiful Creatures (I really should write a review on that one for reference, huh?).

I went to see the movie last Friday night with my cousin who grew up on The Giver as I did and had crazy high expectations, and my sister who recently read The Giver for the first time and didn't hold the crazy love in her heart for it like I do, and had little to no expectations. Basically, here's what happened.

THE BEGINNING: My first impressions

As I expected, the beginning started off a lot like Divergent, talking about times of great unrest or something like that. They showed this weird map of the community which I of course scoffed at. The map showed many communities, not just one, and it was this whole strange set up. It looked a bit like a floating island in the sky. That then reminded me of a book by Lauren DeStefano, Perfect Ruin, which indeed was about a floating island in the sky - and the government constantly referring to people as being "lost to the edge" or something to that effect. It was weird - out of place. They could've done anything else to reinforce the fact that the community was isolated and that once you got past the border, memories would go back to the people living there. There was no need for the floating island look with fog around the border. At all.

I was annoyed already, but it was hard to stay mad when I started getting choked up at Jonas' "graduation" ceremony (aka Ceremony of Twelve - because Jonas is like 18 in the movie). It was modern and weird and aged up, but I still couldn't stop the chills skating up my spine at hearing the community chant his name when he was selected.

THE ROMANCE: Did it really affect the story?

I will admit it distracted the crap out of me. I think the movie would have stood just fine if they had played up Jonas lusting after Fiona, developing feelings of "love" as described in the book, but I think the mistake came from making her have feelings back, making her skip her injections, making her rebel, too. Like I mentioned in my post last week, in reality, Jonas would've only had someone else's memory to go off of, and Fiona would have had nothing. Hormones maybe, but don't we think that after living life the way they did, they wouldn't just jump into a romance with ease? I mean, Fiona was freaked out, but I don't think she was freaked out enough considering how things ended up.

I stand by what I said - the actual romance should've been out. Let Jonas feel how he feels, but watching him try to make out with this chick because he had someone else's memories of love and people kissing was just too much.

ASHER WAS A PILOT?: Of all the WTF-ery!

When the kids were assigned their jobs, Fiona was assigned Nurturer. Oh, wait, you noticed something wrong with that, too? Yeah, she was not a Nurturer in the book, she was a Caretaker of the Old. This didn't bother me all that much just because the Nurturing Center played somewhat of a part in story. But Asher, our dear Asher was assigned as a Pilot who flew out of the community limits, probably to deliver things to other communities, but not outside of the real boundaries. Our irresponsible friend almost instantly turns serious, abiding by the rules that Jonas is developing a distaste for. This adds for some extra drama when - gasp - Asher has to hunt down his own friend when Jonas tries to escape. It was wayyyy overdone and not necessary. I think the near-capture scenes would've been just fine if they altered things a little and left that tidbit out. Does it effect anything all that much? No, but like I said, way overdone and it was another thing that made me roll my eyes.

WHAT I LOVED: Yes, there were actual things I enjoyed!

Even with the things I didn't enjoy, e.g., the romance and the overly modern nonsense that you can see right from the trailer, a good portion of the movie stayed marginally close to the book. Surprise, surprise.

I loved Jonas' passion for the memories, the world as he's never seen before, his passion for love and happiness and doing what is right. Brenton Thwaites really pulled this off well. In the book, Jonas' passion doesn't develop until later on, whereas in the movie it's almost instantaneous after Jonas becomes the Receiver, but it was wonderful to watch his thought process play out (even if it was on fast forward).

The acting was on par. In fact, it was above par. Brenton Thwaites did a lovely job as Jonas. I especially loved Odeya Rush as Fiona. Yes, I thought Fiona has too much of a part, but Rush was fantastic playing what was given to her. She got me all worked up at the end. Katie Holmes, Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd, they were fantastic. TayTay (Swift), however, whom I adore because she's so adorable, was just alright playing Rosemary, a character that had no real part in the book.

I did struggle a bit with Meryl Streep. Not because of the acting - obviously Meryl Streep is a goddess and is amazing. I just struggled because she was another character who has a significantly smaller part that was played way up. It added to the drama and excitement but she was not a likeable character, so that was hard for me.

JEFF BRIDGES. Oh my heart, Jeff Bridges. He played the Giver and he was amazing. He made the movie for me. He was absolutely brilliant. He was exactly what I imagined, though maybe a tad younger and a tad more groomed than the book-Giver. He is one of the main reasons I didn't hate this movie, or why I actually kind of enjoyed it. Jeff Bridges brought the Giver's character to a new level but not like all the other characters, by adding in things about them that aren't true. He was just... perfect. He was another character who brought me to tears.

Which leads me to the main reason I actually kind of enjoyed the movie: THE MEMORIES. The most perfect parts of this movie were the parts that were actually adapted directly from the book. Watching Jonas receive memories was so fun (like his first memory of the sled, or of being on a boat in the ocean at sunset), but then the movie did this thing: it showed a montage memories, of what the world is. We see everything, people dancing, laughing, crying, praying, going to concerts and parties, having babies, dealing with heartbreak, fighting a war, EVERYTHING. Everything that makes this world beautiful and horrible all at once. Let me also point out how beautiful and appropriate it was for them to end of the montages on a picture of Nelson Mandela. Freaking brilliant. It was the one of the most moving things I've ever seen and every time they showed it, I was tearing up like a fool.

OVERALL: It got the point across

All I could think of when we left besides "I don't know what to think" (which is what a ton of people were saying when it was over) was that Lowry was right. Before I went to see the movie, the production company tweeted me a link to a video of Lois Lowry talking about the adaptation:

She mentions how true the movie stays to the book. I remember watching this clip last week before the movie and thinking, psht, how could you call that staying true to the book? Like, was she even watching the same clips that I was?

But after watching I know exactly what she meant. They changed a lot, they really did, and in my opinion some of it was so simple and it didn't even need to be changed (like the weird birthmarks in place of light-colored eyes on the ones who could see/hear Beyond). But still, she was right. I could plainly see that the movie still delivered its message: making people think about what is important, making people appreciate the world in all of its beauty and glory, realizing that we can't forget our history no matter what horrible things have happened, we need to learn from it in order to grow and be better people. If we forget the bad, we lose the good, too. We lose what makes life worth living. I may not have loved the execution but it stayed so true to Lowry's core values and message in the book that I couldn't be mad.


Well... that's for you to decide. Like I said, they've changed a lot. If random little changes, the romance and overly-modern work and rebellion are going to bother you that much then honestly, no. I'm not saying you should pass it up entirely, I'm just saying wait for red box, rather than spending 10 bucks to go see it.

If you're more generous like me and you can see past Hollywood's need to make everything more sexy and exciting and focus on the amazing beautiful scenes between Jonas and the Giver which really made the movie for me, then I say yes. It's only 10 bucks right? And if you're as big of a fan as I am, even though some things will down right piss you off, you'll still find that it did its job. Oh and, FYI, for any changes or stupid things I didn't mention specifically, you can just assume that it wasn't important enough to make any kind of impression on me, and if you see this adaptation at all like I do, then those things won't really matter to you either.

And finally, for those of you who haven't read the book and don't plan to, GO SEE THIS MOVIE (even though I'd really love it if you read the book, too). If you have nothing to base it off of, I promise you, you will love it. The things that annoyed me will seem like nothing if you don't have anything to compare to. It's action packed, meaningful, well done as far as production and acting go, and its overall a good movie when it's totally separated from the book.

If I had a chance to re-do the movie, of course there are things I'd change - lots of things. But there are also things I'd leave exactly the same (the memories, mainly, and the wonderfulness that is Jeff Bridges). The Giver movie really, really surprised me by not being the complete disaster I was expecting. I honestly think I'll be going to see it again, to analyze a bit more.

Did you go see the Giver movie yet? What did you think - and were you a fan of the book first? If you haven't seen it, what do think about the trailers and other reviews? Do you think you will go see it or are you staunchly against this adaptation? I can't wait to hear what you thought!



  1. Yes!! I've been so excited to see what you thought of this! It sounds like this won't be a complete write off for me - but it will also definitely be a redbox movie for me. (This is also somewhat due to the fact that I moved from my $5 theater to a $14 one. Which SUCKS. I'm going to miss that cheap theater so much!) I can forgive a lot if the acting is good (which it unsurprisingly sounds like it is), but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get over the romance easily haha. BUT I'll give it a go once it goes to dvd :)

  2. I loved everything about the book, except for the open ending. I'm really looking forward to watch the movie and was also surprised about the main character's age difference. I do hope however that this one does have an ending worth viewieng.

  3. Ouch $14 for a movie ticket? Mine are $9.50 and even that makes me cringe every time I buy one. Redbox is definitely the way to go on this one - the romance really, really annoyed me, and I rolled my eyes at quite a few things, but JEFF BRIDGES. You need nothing but Jeff Bridges and his interactions with Thwaites when they transmit memories. The single. best. parts of the movie. The. Best.

  4. The lead-up to the ending is quite different and the actual ending is a little better than the book, but thankfully not that different. I think you'll like it though if the book ending was a dud for you.


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