Sorry Bookworms, The Giver Offers Little

Critics aren't impressed with this 'same old' story
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2014 11:51 AM CDT

Excited to head back to your school reading days with the new flick The Giver? You may not be after reading what the critics have to say. Despite big names like Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, the film adaptation of Lois Lowry's classic 1993 novel has just a 29% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's why:

  • "Another week, another movie about a special adolescent who saves society from the forces of darkness," writes Liam Lacey at the Globe and Mail. The Giver is too much of "the same old, same old" in which "Lowry’s serious but simplified ideas get reduced to a barrage of visual kitsch."
  • "The Giver was ahead of its time as a book. But as a movie, it’s too late," writes Joe Neumaier at the New York Daily News. He's one of several critics to note the similarity to recent flicks like The Hunger Games and Divergent. He acknowledges, however, "young audiences may become aware of touchstones" like Nelson Mandela or Tiananmen Square "that they might normally have tuned out." Oh, and Taylor Swift appears in "an unnecessary cameo."
  • "The cast is good" and there are strong scenes when the Giver, played by Bridges, passes his knowledge on to Receiver Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites. But the movie "just falls flat, in almost every way. It exists and not much else," writes Bill Goodykoontz at the Arizona Republic. "It's all too predictable, and way too heavy-handed."
  • Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post apparently didn't get the memo. Lowry's novel "comes to life," she writes. It's "handsomely directed" with "an appealing, sure-footed cast," including strong performances from Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes, who play Jonas' parents. Overall, it "perceptively caters to its teenaged fans' own cardinal desires and anxieties," she writes.
(More movie review stories.)

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