The Giver


The Giver

Critics Consensus

Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas.



Total Count: 163


Audience Score

User Ratings: 56,110
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Movie Info

The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community's memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all - a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. THE GIVER is based on Lois Lowry's beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. (C) Weinstein

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Critic Reviews for The Giver

All Critics (163) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (57) | Rotten (106)

  • Noyce tries to thread the needle by hewing close to his source material while peppering in some grander-scale sci-fi business to keep things moving. It doesn't remotely work.

    Sep 22, 2016 | Full Review…
  • It makes for one of this overcrowded field's stronger entries, refusing to redact entirely the baby-slaying weirdness that permits Lois Lowry's source novel its multiplicity of grown-up readings ...

    Sep 18, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Mike McCahill

    Top Critic
  • The allegorical framework starts to look contrived, and things feel far too rushed and glib after an involving start.

    Sep 12, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The problems show up during the climactic action sequences. Logic is jettisoned and once that happens, the basic flaws in the whole scenario become all too obvious.

    Sep 10, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • This might be an anti-pharmaceutical, anti-cult, anti-plot, anti-suspense allegory. It could also just be Thanksgiving at your robot-zombie in-laws.

    Aug 21, 2014 | Full Review…
  • For much of the movie, viewers will be asking themselves where the conflict is. And, by extension, the drama.

    Aug 18, 2014

Audience Reviews for The Giver

  • Jun 14, 2017
    It was the Nebula award winning novel that took the science fiction world by storm. Almost immediately after it's release, talk of turning The Giver into a feature film began, but turning a complex science fiction story into something general audiences could enjoy was a big issue. Studio, cast delays, and re-writes held the film up for more than a decade, but in 2014 it was released and it is spectacular! In the not so distant future, on top of a mountain, lays a futurist society in which pain, war, and disease has been eliminated at a huge cost. With all that society has gained, it has lost the ability to exercise individuality and free thought, this effects everyone except for one, The Giver. The Giver is the historian, who keeps the memory of what life used to be like, so that society never forgets that what it's gained far outweighs the cost. The Giver however is old and must train a replacement. At the choosing ceremony, a young teenager named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen. Once Jonas learns the truth, he must decide to do the job of The Giver or reveal the truth, in the hopes of bringing back individuality, but at what cost? Originally producers wanted Lloyd Bridges to play the Giver, when he passed, his son took on the role, and while he doesn't fit the mold of an elder statesman, he was still amazing. Meryl Streep also partakes in this magical film, playing the settlements leader, and she is every bit as chilling and suspenseful as the character in the book. At this point, I'm really convinced that there isn't a role she can't play successfully. Even with all the star power, far an away the best performance in this film is given by Brenton Thwaites, a British actor I'd never seen before. Aside from his tremendous good looks, Thwaites portrayal of a teenager with the fate of the world on his shoulders is better than even that of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. The passion and charisma he portrays was absolutely infectious and helped carry the film through even the slowest parts. The Bottom Line, the book is a Sci-Fi lovers dream, while the movie is a lot different in order to attract a more mainstream audience, the power and genius of the story remains, and for that The Giver joins our list of must see movies!
    Todd S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2016
    The Giver A great concept with poor execution and inconsistent acting, The Giver is a frustrating film. It's a film that's both hard to watch and yet hard not to like, at least on some levels. Based on the novel of the same name, the film finds a futuristic society which can either be seen as a utopia, for the less imagined, or rightly a dystopia-where emotions are surprised, conformity rules, and memories lost. One person, the Receiver, is allowed to remember. He is tasked to train his successor, who proves to be vastly changed by what he learns. While I appreciate the themes of the film, and thought some of the world building was adequate-the overall feel of The Giver is stilted and a bit cheesy. I blame this on lackluster direction, there's no real suspense or sense of stakes, and bad acting. There are two main heavy-hitters in The Giver, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. Bridges is solid, and Streep is okay. Outside of that, the acting is shallow, devoid of emotion, and uninspired. This is especially true of Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, whose performance is more akin to that of a Disney movie than a major Hollywood production. The film also fails to deliver on what would otherwise be really interesting developments. It just doesn't feel like it got what it could out of good material. By the end it succumbs to profoundly silly plot devices. The sequence involving Jonas and a child and their exploits crossing mountains, snow, and desert, is laughable and indicative of the film's larger failings. Lackluster. 2.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2015
    Not my usual type of thing, but it was a free rental and I was interested to see Taylor Swift act, so... As it happens, Taylor's scene is about 2 minutes long, so I don't know why her name is on the cover. This movie is okay. It's pretty standard of a YA novel made into a movie. If you liked The Host, The Hunger games etc, this will be right up your alley. I sat through it so it was watchable, but it's not overly memorable. Acting was so so.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 05, 2015
    Based on the bestselling children's book, The Giver is a provocative, life-affirming sci-fi thriller. Set in a dystopian future where society has regressed to a uniform collective, a young man named Jonas is chosen to be the new Receiver of Memory of a past long forgotten; and as he's given the memories from the previous Receiver, Jonas begins to realize that the community's humanity has been lost. Starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, and Katie Holmes, the film has a solid cast that gives some good performances. Additionally, the set designs and special effects are quite impressive; especially the use of cinematography. However, the memory scenes are rather lackluster, and don't carry the emotional resonance that they're make out to. Yet in spite of a few problems, the spirit of the material comes through, making The Giver an impassioned and compelling exploration of humanity.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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