The Giver Review

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The Giver is a film that I definitely heard a lot as I frequented the world. The poster was just about everywhere, but it was not very informative so I never had any idea on what the plot was. Eventually, I finally saw the film and it’s certainly a pretty good one. I think that the plot works better as a TV show or a movie series, but if it had been the former I may not have seen it anyway…so it’s a mixed bag. Nonetheless, it’s good to see a film with an original plot like this one since that’s pretty rare nowadays.

It is the year 20XX and….well, I guess you can just pick a year. Humanity has erected a…would this count as a spoiler? Hmmmm……all right folks, watch out for spoilers! This probably counts, but it needs to be mentioned…anyway, back to where I started. Humanity has erected a large barricade that stands at the edge of their territory and nobody is allowed to go anywhere near it. It is what keeps them safe by eliminating all emotions and creative thinking. Humanity lives with their assigned roles right now and they don’t know what happiness and sadness are. It’s a world without fault, but without positives as well. That’s where Jonas comes in. He has been selected to be the Taker and the government may have taken too much of a risk here. Jonas’ job is to inherit the memories of humanity, but with these memories comes emotion, color….life! Will he really be content with keeping things at the status quo or will he decide to revolt…like so many figures in history?

This is definitely a very fascinating concept and it’s one that’s fun to think about. The lines aren’t so clearly divided into good and evil here as you can make a decent case for both. The case for why humans should have free will and emotions is a little more obvious so I will be brief on that. Living without free will is like not living at all and emotionlessly just accepting your fate is terrible. You are essentially told that you will be a mother at home or you will work in nursery for the women and the guys are thrown into a random job with no prior preparation or experience. They won’t like the job either, but at least they won’t dislike it right? No matter how you look at it, this existence wouldn’t be great and it’s also logically impossible. Of course, we’re ignoring that tidbit, but it’s unimaginable to not be able to see in color and not understand universals and emotion.

Scientifically speaking, I’m sure that it’s possible to remove the part of the eye rather painlessly that lets us see color on everyone. Removing emotions through a serum injection is certainly more sketchy. Also, you have to have the shot every day for it to actually work. Would the “rebels” really not “slip up” once or twice and then realize that something was amiss? Of course, this is ultimately still science fiction so trying to rationalize everything may not be very rational if you really think about it. I’ll just take this at face value for now.

Now, why would this be a good thing? Well, let’s start off with two of the big obstacles in the real. (“In the Real is a term used in Accel World to distinguish the real world from cool cyber worlds and I rather like the term so I may use it once in a while…for style!) World Hunger and Murder. These two things have been eliminated from the Earth entirely.* (*Unfortunately, babies are murdered every day in this world to keep the population stable, but they are simply “released” as far as the people know. They don’t know what death is and just believe that the person is gone…interesting. These guys better have perfect health tech or there will be unexpected releases sometimes…) Nobody wants to harm other people and billions of tragedies would simply never happen. If you’ve ever turned on the news you’ll know that millions suffer with every passing second. There is none of that here so that is an overwhelming positive that you simply cannot afford to ignore.

I think the fact that they were essentially murdering their own citizens at the end was where the film clearly starts to point to why you should be rooting for Jonas. It’s a painless death and typically it is willing since they cannot feel emotions. This was a one time exception because of what Jonas has done, but it definitely makes the others look more like villains. I’m still on the free will side for many reasons with the main one being that it is really what makes us who we are. It’s certainly a fun debate to tackle with in your head.

Jonas is not a great main character though. I just don’t like him and I felt like the writers were trying to make him a little too…over reactive. He was sort of showing us how we should be reacting to every scene and he didn’t seem to have any actual personality. He has a good excuse at first of course, but I still didn’t like him by the end. I felt like he really pushed his emotions onto Fiona. She didn’t know what romance is so she really couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Jonas had liked her from the start so it was different. It was just a romance that I really couldn’t get into and think that it was very unnecessary. It’s a sub plot that I definitely could have done without and it cost the film a star.

Fiona is actually a pretty good character as she stands by her friends (Unlike Asher) from start to finish. She is always looking out for Jonas and she risks her career and future to help him when the main hero is in a pinch. I do think that the romance was unnecessary, but this is one time where at least 90% of the blame should go to Jonas. Learning emotions for the first time can be a rather confusing experience after all. I imagine that it’s like trying to play a video game for the first time without a manual and holding the controller upside down. Now that would be confusing!

Is it just me or did the film try to make Jonas’ mother extremely antagonistic from the start? She would literally correct him every time he spoke and she seemed to almost despise him. Keep in mind that none of these characters actually have emotions. They demonstrate them a lot, but I guess that just shows that no serum can be 100% effective. The dad is more tempered and he seems to know more than he lets on, but that sub plot vanishes when he decides to go through with the releasing ceremony. He definitely didn’t know what that meant so maybe he just acted smarter than he was.

Asher is Jonas’ other friend and he definitely wasn’t good. Of course, he’s made to be unlikable since he represents the average person who quickly loses sight of all his aspirations and goals as he just follows what the government does without any questions. He has his big moment where he gets to try and stop Jonas, but let’s just say that he’s outmatched. None of the character even know what a fight is so they definitely can’t comprehend that the best way to stop an incoming punch is to parry or punch back.

The Chief Justice is another intriguing character since she has clearly been through a lot, but that isn’t really explained. We are left to guess and we are given pieces to the puzzle. We know that her heir suffered an untimely fate and it helped her to despise emotions, but then we have to wonder just how long ago the barrier was put up. I would guess that it was only recently from that (Last 20 years maybe) but other parts of the film hint that it’s been like this for many decades. It also makes sense since a big change like that could definitely not occur in such a short amount of time. She definitely has a lot of determination to help her keep things the way that they have been while her counterpart…The Giver has other ideas.

The Giver is the original keeper of the memories, but he doesn’t do a whole lot with his position. He could give everyone back their memories if he makes it past the barricade, but he’s old and he worries about what will happen to the town now if he should be away from it. Unfortunately, he’s a little sloppy and memories that he didn’t want to be shared are given pretty soon. He makes this mistake twice, which isn’t great for him. He’s ot a bad character, but I guess he’s not that good. He could have certainly done a better job during the memory transfers with Jonas and with his former pupil as well.

Now, I have mentioned that I think this plot would work better as a whole show or series. The reason why is mainly illustrated in the ending. After the barricade is breached…the film just ends. You can imagine that the world will quickly be plunged into chaos and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Will they go back to creating wars and become corrupt like the Chief Justice believes or will they unite and stand as one? The former is more likely, but it’s still an interesting situation to watch. Alternately, they also could have shown this emotionless world more so that we can really contrast it to natural life. Achieving all of this in about 90 minutes is a tough feat to be sure. I suppose that the concept itself is what’s important though and we can just put together the unseen pieces.

Overall, The Giver is a very interesting movie. As I mentioned, my main problem with it is the romance. I just found it distasteful and it certainly does impact how much you will enjoy the film. Beyond that, I definitely enjoyed it and the concept is certainly a winner. There isn’t really any action to be found besides a short scuffle and chase scene, but the writing is strong enough to hold the film together. I definitely recommend checking the film out since it will pose some nice philosophical questions for you to answer. I do think that the concept is a little too broad for a film, but I suppose that it did the best that it could. My stance on the ending is that most of the survivors were thrown inside of the barricade, but a few rebels managed to hide out in the outside world where they kept their memories and got to continue the human race as it used to be. That’s just my 2 cents on the ending so you’re free to speculate on it.

Overall 6/10