For the film: not the worst adaptation, but...
After I read the book as a teenager, what left the strongest impression on me was the fact that NOTHING is revealed about how the process of transferring the memories works. Is it magic? Is it science? We don't know — it's never explained. So, for me, one line, if nothing else, made seeing this movie worth it: when Jonas gets his first memory and asks in shock how that happened, the Giver scoffs at the question — it doesn't matter how it happened, "It happened." It just happens, and if the audience wants to know how, they'll have to ask Ms. Lowry, moving on...
Not that there isn't some other good stuff in the film. The portrayal of life in the Community is spot on; they got all the details about their rules and lifestyle completely right. Brenton Thwaites' and Jeff Bridges' performances are excellent. The use of black-and-white versus color to portray "seeing beyond" was fun to watch. I wasn't sure whether or not they would show the "release" of the twin; when they did, I didn't expect it to disturb me nearly
as much as it did. Why was watching it so much more chilling than reading it?
But even though it has some good moments, I wouldn't feel comfortable calling it a "good" film. They tried to turn it from a Coming of Age Story
into an epic rebel-against-the-tyrannical-government story like its imitator Divergent
, but the result is kind of messy; the pieces of the plot aren't linked together very well (the narration is particularly stupid). They made the Chief Elder into a President Snow-esque villain, but the story never needed that. The plot is radically
different from the book's, which die-hard fans would hate even if it was put together better. They also tried to emphasize the romance by making Fiona a more major ally, but the result looks like they hesitated between keeping to her role in the book and changing it and ultimately failed from both angles. Jonas' side of the climax works just fine, but the Giver's Kirk Summation
on his side? Ridiculous! In the end, it leaves you wondering, as usual, why they thought the book would make a good movie if they thought they had to change so much to make it work... and how, if they liked the book enough to make it a movie, they couldn't see that their changes weren't as good as the original material. I enjoyed watching it, but I wasn't very impressed.