Despite a cast headed by veterans Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges and bringing Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush in the leads, “The Giver” is more than a little late on the sci-fi dystopian futuristic tales. “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” have pretty told of a grim future. “The Giver” is late and not as good as the earlier two.
It’s loaded with all the cliches Hollywood serves up, from budding love where love is impossible, and oddly staffed by guards out to keep the peace when that’s all there is in this gated city.
Streep is Chief Elder , who seems to have borrowed her odd gray wig from Holly Hunter. Streep doesn’t have a lot to do but as as always what she does is good, if more than a trifle wooden.
Bridges is the bearded Giver, the holder of all the memories of the city, and he is charged with passing them on to Jonas (Brenton) and does so in a mental collage of the bad old days when war and chaos were common scenes.
Jonas is selected as the next memory vault in a ceremony where he’s the last to be given a job, which bewilders him as he meets The Giver (Bridges), and receives the bad memories of past life before the city walled itself off from the rest of the world and almost all that makes mankind human --- love, art, dance and all the good things that makes us all different. Adapted from Lois Lowry’s book for young readers, the story portrays a life where no smiles, or dancing, in a monochromatic environs and nebulous communitarianism, seem modeled on a Scandinavian country or an old Mentos commercial.
It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Jonas wises up to the good things in life, along with his love interest Fiona (Rush).
Not as gripping as the earlier bad society films, Bridges and Streep are consummate professionals and the rest of the cast serves well. Tahoe skiers and boarders will get a laugh out of Jonas with baby in arms riding an old Fear;less Flyer sled down deep powder. So much for reality, but that old devil computer generated images are here as usual, weakening the story with their usual excesses.
Not a good outing, but if you don’t have air conditioning it might be worth the admission costs. No in 3D, so you get off cheap.
Jeff Bridges as The Giver
Meryl Streep as The Chief Elder
Brenton Thwaites as Jonas
Alexander Skarsgård as Jonas’s father
Odeya Rush as Fiona
Katie Holmes as Jonas’s mother
Taylor Swift as Rosemary
Cameron Monaghan as Asher
Emma Tremblay as Lily
Irina Miccoli as Fiona’s mother
Jordan Nicholas Smal as Gabriel (3 months old)
Saige Fernandes as Gabriel (6 months old)
Alexander and James Jillings as Gabriel (12 months old)
Robert B. Weide
Barry Alexander Brown
94 minutes, rated PG-13
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.