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In its own way, the movie version — handsomely directed by Phillip Noyce and featuring an appealing, sure-footed cast of emerging and veteran actors — aptly reflects The Giver’s pride of place as the one that started it all, or at least the latest wave.
In spite of grand, world-building special effects and a stellar cast, the film falters under giant leaps of faith that land it just outside of the typical audience's threshold of suspension of disbelief.
The film begins to get a bit lost as the story develops and pushes toward a wobbly climax and conclusion. And what to make of that sled, which is the first bit of knowledge Jonas receives. Rosebud, anyone?
New York Post
The Giver is at its best when Bridges expounds on civilization’s lost beauty and savagery; at other times, it’s strewn with implausibility: For a totalitarian society in which everyone is monitored constantly, our hero is able to sneak around an awful lot.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
While The Giver scores points for being smarter and deeper than “The Hunger Games” or its inferior photo-copy (“Divergent”), coming after all those other versions of this plot does neither it, nor us, any favors. The Giver has nothing new to offer.
The Hollywood Reporter
A lazy ending mars this fine, if generic, take on a much-loved YA novel.
The A.V. Club
The ironic side effect is that this major influence on today’s new class of dystopian YA smashes now looks like just another greedy knockoff on-screen—a monochromatic "Divergent," or something similar.
The Giver reaches the screen in a version that captures the essence of Lowry’s affecting allegory but little of its mythic pull.
The Giver is an anti-totalitarian allegory so farcically hyperbolic it feels like only a teenager could have come up with it.
Mostly the problem is that every aspect of The Giver feels both painfully familiar and like an awkward, unsupportable stretch. For a film about the deep, hidden dangers of enforced sameness, that’s almost hilariously ironic.
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