Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Giver (2014) * *

I wasn't very keen on watching this movie, but as is apparent from my previous reviews, I tend to keep an open mind. There were other movies I wasn't very excited about, and I liked them. The reason why I watched this movie? Alex Skarsgard. Yeah, he's beautiful, and I love his voice, so I decided to check this one out. I also saw that a lot of my online book friends loved the book version. Well, let me just say that I hope the book is better.

I can use one word to describe this movie. Simplistic. The book came out in 1993, before the hype of The Hunger Games, and other dystopian YA books, so in a way it's a forerunner of its time. However, while watching the movie it did remind me of a few things I saw or read that were made before 1993, so let's start the dystopian cliché list, that is now so familiar to us all.
City surrounded by some sort of a barrier that people can't cross. Two things come to mind, and remember, I haven't seen and read all dystopian novels, so this is just from my small pool of reference. Zamyatin's Us had a wall, the city in Logan's Run was built underground. It is a basic trope in dystopia to limit travel, to cut people off from the outside world in order to control them.
Getting rid of older people, celebrate it, and have the people not care that they are gone. This was actually a very basic part of Logan's Run.
Breed people, not have a traditional family structure. I'd need to write a list, this is so common. It was basically in every dystopian fiction I come across and was written before 1993.
People forget their history, no books. I will have to say Logan's Run again. Lois Lowry must adore the movie.
Main character realises there is something wrong, and escapes. Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, because in dystopia the most common plot is that someone tries to rebel against the establishment. It's sort of a requirement.
Main character escapes, and best friend comes after them. I hate to say this, but Logan's Run once more. I don't know how it is in the book, I don't suppose that it's a drone. Truth to be told, the friend turns out differently in Logan's Run.
Humanity taken away by a drug, people are conditioned to think one way. Brave New World. There is conditioning, though a bit more heavy-duty than here, and you have a drug which there acts more apparently like a drug, but the purpose is the same. To not notice how crazy everything is.
Cameras everywhere. Need I write a list here? When they put cameras all over London, people were saying Big Brother is watching.
There may have been a couple of more, but I won't bore you. The story was a simplistic mash of a lot of clichés in dystopia. Maybe there is more depth in the book, because so many people loved it. However, if I summarised the movie, it would sound like a lot of dystopias. At least it felt short.

The characters are simply not exciting, or surprising. They feel like cardboard cut-outs.
Jonas is the main protagonist. He is chosen to hold the memories of the past by taking them from the old Keeper of Memories, who becomes the Giver. This is done through some mind sharing, which isn't explained at all in the movie. Now in this world people don't seem to have too much of a personality, and that is sort of the point. He is more enthusiastic about things than the rest of the people even before he stops taking the drugs. Otherwise, I really don't know what to write about him. He's good with a baby. Let's also admit that he could have turned out to be a terrible person off the drugs, as could anyone. However, it's probably because of their simple upbringing, he is more like a small child than a young adult. He looks at everything with an innocence that was partly the point of keeping the memories of the past away from these people.
The Giver is your typical old man. Jaded, obviously has a history with the Chief Elder. He's the one who leads Jonas on his journey.
Fiona is the love interest. Rather, the cut-out of a love interest. I really don't have much to say about her either, since I learned very little of her other than she's pretty, and has a caring nature.

The thing that I find most unlike the rest of the dystopias is the YA aspect. I can't remember having read or seen anything that had such a young protagonist, but I probably haven't seen everything.
It left a lot of questions in my mind. I still don't know how the community came about, what the rest of the world is like, or how the barrier worked, or a lot of other things. I was hoping for some great reveal, but none came. The ending just raised even more questions.

Overall, watchable, but not all that great. It didn't excite me, or make me want to read the book. It just left me baffled how so many people can like the book. I sincerely hope it's a lot better. I can only recommend it if you have 100 minutes to kill, and there's nothing else.

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