First of all, I just want to say, I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, without even having watched the official trailer, only the very first 1 and a half minutes of the film, which caught my attention so I decided to go ahead and watch it.
Also, this is my very first review on IMDB, I do not normally do this, but this movie is....special (not in a good way).
Now that this is out of the way, let me begin: The movie starts well, with a good premise, that looks remarkably similar to that of Equilibrium (which is an amazing film and vastly superior to this one) which precedes this movie. One can wonder (I certainly asked myself that) if The Giver simply copy pasted Equilibrium's premise, but anyway, I digress. So far so good, I thought. However, the movie quickly becomes more and more nonsensical, to the point where I genuinely felt that my intelligence is downright insulted. It kept getting worse and worse, to the point where I wanted to stop watching and start cursing at the film's screenwriters. How did this script got approved and went into production is just beyond me. But what do I mean exaclty? Well allow me to be specific:
- (This is where the spoilers begin, reader beware) -
Basically, the premise of the film is that in the future, in a sort of post-modern era, people have decided to create a hyper peaceful society where there is no war, conflict, cruelty, suffering, etc for everyone. So the way to achieve this, is to make everyone not be able to feel, so that they dont get angry, sad, or in anyway malicious. With good emotions come the bad ones, so they decide to eliminate emotion altogether. They achieve this, by injecting themselves with some substance that has this effect, and they need to take their daily dose, otherwise they will start feeling. As I've already said, this is pretty much a carbon copy of Equilibrium's premise, but I was willing to let that slide. After all, not all movies need to be unique in their premise. And this is really where the madness begins: Apparently, along with taking away all emotions, these shots also take away color, and they make everyone see in black and white. Not colorblind, but just see in black and white, as if it were an old colorless movie. Colorblind people can still see some color. No explanation is given for this, and we are meant to believe that this drug is able to make people see in black and white. Fine, I can accept that, as a stretch.
The giver, somehow is able to hold memories in his head, of things that he never experienced. Those memories were likely experiences of other people, now long dead, but somehow he has those memories because other givers before him, transmitted those memories to him. That is what he is trying to do now: Transmit those memories to the protagonist, Jonas. The way to transmit those memories to him, is through.....well magic. I am not kidding here. Even though there is no concept of magic in this movie's world, we are left to assume whatever we want, because no explanation is given for this transmittance of memories from one person to another. The giver simply grabs Jonas' hands, and then Jonas sort of experiences a memory that wasnt his own. When he experiences that memory, Jonas also gains knowledge and starts feeling as well. How does he magically gain that knowledge? Well the memories are transmitted via magic, so why not knowledge such as words he has never spoken/pronounced. What the hell, if we are gonna make stuff up and offer no explanation, then WHY NOT?? Right?
Now, a whole bunch of stuff happens, and I dont want to spoil the movie, but basically Jonas ends up trying to rescue a baby from execution, in order to run away with that baby. While running away, he goes through a lot of different areas. That baby sure is superhuman, able to withstand conditions even I, a grown man probably couldnt survive in, but somehow the baby does it!
By the end of the movie, that baby will have survived:
1. Being carried inside a baby basket while the basket is sitting on the front of a motorcycle, doing maneuvers and being driven fast
2. Motorcycle doing an insane stunt jump from like 100 meters and then landing, as if it were an expert moto cross bike, and the baby inside the basket being perfectly fine, no harm done.
3. Being carried by Jonas while he walks in the desert for endless hours.
4. Sleeping in the desert and Jonas feeding it milk one time (that we saw at least)
5. Being dropped (again!) from a flying jet, into the water of a river which is a result of a waterfall! A grown man could die/drown from that. Not this baby!
6. Being carried (again) to the top of a mountain, with extreme cold and snow everywhere. Seriously, just turn off your brain here, dont think. Its just utterly absurd.
7. Being dropped onto the snow in the mountains, laying there for a while, and
8. Finally being on a crazy sled ride while the sled along with Jonas carrying the baby descends the top of the mountain reaching pretty high speeds.
And what is the explanation given for the superhuman baby?? Well, Jonas is having his memory powers transmitted to the baby, and those memory powers also make you tougher. Because thinking happy thoughts about being strong and tough makes one tough! It makes babies survive extreme conditions, somehow their baby bodies become that of an experienced mountain climber.
Sheer, utter nonsense.
Also, the giver keeps repeating a whole bunch of nonsense about love, hope and of course Faith. Faith is placed alongside the other things, as if it is something great. He tells Jonas to question and not to believe what someone tells him just because he respects them, but then he tells him that faith is a wonderful thing. So....being gullible and believing things without evidence, even though it goes against logic and reason, just because it just feels so damn good....is a great thing. But I get it. In a movie where very little makes sense, where little to no explanation is given for things, we are supposed to have faith and just believe whatever feels good to us.
And how is Jonas supposed to heroically save the day and make everyone feel and experience love and all that other stuff? Well, he has to cross the border, and that border is portrayed as some magical shield of some sort (again, no explanation given). But why does crossing that border make everyone magically feel? Well, dont question it, its just magic! Or, its a miracle! Nobody knows, I'm not even sure the screenwriters know, because they didnt bother with such trivial details!
Lastly, the giver knows what is out there, he wants everyone to receive the gift of feeling and be free, he knows how to do that exactly, even knows where the sled is, but damnit he has to wait for the right guy, because....well Jonas just looks cool. No seriously, the giver could have done everything that Jonas did, even better actually, because he'd do it in secret and even prepare for the short journey so there wouldnt be any risk, especially since no one would find out because they had no reason to be suspicious of him and because they have no cameras in his house. So....Jonas was completely useless and in fact put his friends and family at risk for no good reason. Well done Jonas!
Or should I say.....well done film producers/writers/director?
The mindless drivel that is this film is just staggering. I found myself looking for an explanation, even going back and rewatching scenes, just in case I missed something....but alas it is really that bad. I could go on and on about the sheer irrationality and absurd nonsense that is depicted in this film, but I wont.
At the end of the day, the only reason I do not give this movie a 1/10 and award it just one star above the lowest score, is because the graphics is pretty good, the sound score is above average, and the actors carry out their roles pretty well, especially Jeff Bridges. Brendon Thwaites (Jonas) is also excellent, at least within the limitations of his role in this movie.
Overall, this movie is a big disappointment, even though I had no expectations at all before watching it. I wanted to like the movie, I really did. Towards the end, I found myself unable to keep making excuses for it, and genuinely felt that my intelligence is insulted, by this utter nonsense.
If you want to just feel things and not think anything, watch this movie, it will appeal to your emotional side, but nothing more. If you even bother to think even slightly, not only you will be disappointed, but you will often find yourself predicting nearly everything that happens, especially in the extremely predictable ending which is basically shown to the viewer about halfway through the film, so you can avoid any surprises in the film's, terribly predictable ending.