Recommended for: Ages 10 to Adult
I'm not sure why it was PG-13. There wasn't any adult content, just a few short kisses, even the brief mention of "the Stirrings" was way less detailed than in the book, and the war memory wasn't even that graphic...my friend speculated that it's because they think kids can't think deeply enough to understand it, and cited Common Core math as proof of the attempt to dumb down Americans. :)
In a seemingly perfect Community, 18-year-old Jonas is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. But as he receives memories of how things used to be, Jonas begins to realize that all he has ever known may not be as perfect as he once believed.
Pay no attention to the trailer for The Giver. I still think the trailer for The Giver makes it look like all the other dystopians out there. So did my friend. That was what made me not want to see it. It made it look like a completely different story. But my friends at church made me curious about it, and when another friend expressed interest in going to see it, we did. Fortunately, not only was the trailer a misrepresentation of the story from the book, it misrepresented the movie. Yes, they changed a lot. No, even as a book purist it didn't ruin it at all. I liked the movie quite a bit, and am hoping the DVD comes out in time for Christmas because I want it. Ignore the trailer. Watch the movie. Don't expect it to be just like the book, because it can't be. Do read the book first, of course. The book is better, duh, but the movie is really good.
The technical aspects of the film were extremely well done. The memories were pretty neat. For the longer ones they actually put Jonas in them, and for shorter ones, there were clips and pictures that just sort of made you think. The biggest cool part of the technical aspect I will put in a spoiler, because, well, it's not as big of a spoiler in the movie, it can't be, but it is big for the book.
SPOILER Color. We don't appreciate color like we should. The way they handled color was brilliant. I expected no less, after the conversation I had about it after church, and I wasn't disappointed. It starts off fully in black and white, and gradually brings in bits of color as Jonas discovers it. The reds are first, of course, and come in muted. It really was pretty amazing how the community ever so gradually gained its color until it was fully vibrant. And then the later scenes without Jonas being in black and white made such a stark contrast. Driving home at sunset, I was really struck by how colorful everything was, and how much I take it for granted. END SPOILER
The Community. A place where everything is perfectly organized, no one ever has to make choices, or worry about where their next meal is coming from, or worry if you'll lose your job because it has been assigned to you by the Council of Elders and they rarely if ever make mistakes, everyone's personal space is respected, you have a safe dwelling to go home to each night...all you have to do is follow the rules and nothing bad will ever happen to you. Or will it? Is it really the paradise it seems? Very little about the setting was changed from Lois Lowry's book, and it was brilliantly done. The Community is portrayed just as it should be. Everything seems clean and perfect, but is it really? Can utopia really exist?
Jonas is nervous about Graduation. He has no idea what Assignment he will be given. So when he is chosen as the next Receiver of Memory, it is quite unexpected. There is only one, and being the Receiver of Memory is nothing like anything he could ever dream of.
The plot followed the book fairly well. They made the ending more exciting, but the basics were all there. To be honest, the plot isn't really all that complicated, and they didn't add complication to a simple but very powerful storyline. I didn't see any plot holes, and the slight inconsistencies in the book were either resolved or made irrelevant. It's a tale of discovery, but if I say too much about what that discovery is, it would be a spoiler, and I mustn't give spoilers about this story. I'm very adamant about that, strangely enough. Though that makes it difficult to say much. It was excellently done, and the running time was perfect for it. It didn't seem rushed, nor did it seem dragged out. The changes didn't bother me too much either, but I wasn't entirely without mental, "It didn't happen like that in the book." After watching it a few more times, I may be able to drop any quibbles and give it a full rating for plot.
Character Development: 4.5/5
I thought Jonas was perfect. Aside from making him older and giving him some sort of birthmark on his wrist instead of light eyes, he was almost exactly like the Jonas I know from the book. He was just a great character, a flawed human, but still a good person. I really liked Fiona too, despite them giving her a larger, more prominent role. Actually, I kind of liked her role in the movie. It wasn't so different that it made me cringe, so it was good. And yes, there were a couple of kisses between Jonas and Fiona, but it made an opportunity for a funny but at the same time horrible line, an elder saying "What are they doing?" The Giver was awesome, you could really tell he was weighed down with the memories, and he was just a great character. My biggest quibble is with Asher. He was a great character in the movie, and he fulfilled the role given him, but he just wasn't as funny. He wasn't as clumsy with words. Still, he was a well developed character, so it's only a book fan quibble that makes me have a slight problem with him. Only slight, because I strangely didn't mind the changes that much. I have to also mention the baby Gabriel. He's a baby, so there's not much character development involved, but he was so super cute. And I loved the part when Jonas was trying to make him laugh.
The Giver was a very good movie that translated the source material into a movie as effectively as was possible. I do highly recommend it, just read the book first.