The film struggles to have any ‘originality’ despite being an influence
The Giver Blu-ray Review
Jonas lives in a perfect society where there is no prejudice, bad language, discrimination and everyone lives in peace and friendship – something must be wrong, right?And that is perhaps the fundamental flaw in The Giver. The original novel was written twenty years ago, and during the 90’s it would have made a terrific film; but sadly time has not been that kind to the ideas as presented, because they no longer seem that original.
Jonas is a youth and like all his peers is assigned a job based on his qualifications and temperament.In this case he is tasked with ‘Receiver of Memories’ and as such learns the true past of the ideal community in which he lives from the Giver. The Giver (the previous ‘Receiver’) is an older, somewhat bitter man, who is tasked with holding the secrets and finds it a chore due to personal tragedy. When Jonas comes along he finds a kindred spirit and trains him to overthrow the society by becoming a Giver himself.
The ideas are laudable, the acting is excellent, the effects are top notch and the story is perfectly serviceable; it’s just that there is always that sense of inevitability – you simply know where the story is headed; the background characters are very predictable, so whilst the characters are quite well defined their actions are never in any doubt and the outcome is thus obvious. It is a shame as there is much to admire and there is a deal of being swept along with the story; if only this had been made years ago …
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is region locked to B.
Shot digitally the detail is extremely good, skin has very good texture, clothing has visible weave, foliage holds edgesin both close up and distance. Some of the landscape shots in the latter end of the film are picture postcard in their clarity. Check out the snow or the cloud formations in the memory transfers.
Colours are well represented with all the primaries coming off as bold and strong, the sun set scene is particularly vivid, and I know it is meant to be, but the depth of colour on show is awesome. Particularly pleasing is the pastel colouring of the commune’s clothing, the beige, brown and blue and how it contrasts with the vivid landscape.
the sun set scene is particularly vivid, the depth of colour on show is awesome
Contrast and brightness are set to give an exceptional grey scale, of particular use for the majority of the run time, where blacks add a strong punch and depth to the picture whilst retaining shadow detail when required. Blacks never crush and likewise, whites never clip.
Digitally there are no compression problems or any edge enhancement, there are no banding or posterization issues nor is there any judder. Being digitally shot there are no original print issues and even the stock film used for the memories contains no issues or damage. The whole thing is excellent but lacks that certain sparkle to maintain reference.
Blu-ray Sound QualityJust the one track to choose from: English dts-HD MA 5.1 surround. What starts off as quite a sedate track very soon livens up into a wonderful surround experience, the memories contain the best use of the surround speakers for their respective effects, whether that is the war scene with its myriad of explosive effects, or something as simple as sledding down a hill, with the whoosh of the snow, leaves and breathing to place you in the centre of the sled. The score too makes good use of the six speakers giving its own left/right, front/back separation. Bass reproduction is well realised grounding everything, and whilst it never plumbs subterranean depths, the LFE is very effective. Dialogue is set to the frontal array and sounds very natural, while the surrounds pick up on the ambience, be it commune life, leaves in the breeze or drone aircraft flying by. Again an excellent surround track but lacking the extra something to make it reference.
Blu-ray ExtrasJeff Bridges Presents The Original Script Reading Featuring Lloyd Bridges – Runs for about forty minutes and is introduced by Jeff explaining exactly what we are going to see – a re-enactment of the book written as a screen play, by the Bridges family on home video.
Making The Giver: From Page To Screen – Roughly twenty minutes but mostly filler from the finished film, briefly touches on how the film came about and its twenty year journey to the screen; with brief sound bites from some of those involved in its making.
Press Conference With Cast – Actually quite interesting, runs for about thirty minutes and is exactly what it states, an off screen interviewer asked the cast and crew questions upon which they answer, quite candid in a ‘sell the picture’ kind of way.
Jonas’ Harrowing Journey (Extended Scene) – About nine minutes and shows much more of Jonas and Gab as they journey alone in the wilderness. Actually answers one of the questions that brought me out of the picture (how the landscape went from desert to snowy mountains in one cut) and whilst it is slightly too long a few segments of this would have been welcome to show the developing bond and hardship the pair went through.
“Ordinary Human” Featurette With OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder – The singer and writer from OneRepulic explains his motivations behind the theme song and how he feels it fits in with the film.
Author Lois Lowry On The Giver – The author herself explains a little about the book, her motivation for writing it and her feelings on the finished film.
Blu-ray VerdictThe Giver was a novel written by author Lois Lowry that has gained huge popularity, so much so that it is on the required reading syllabus in certain US states. When Jeff Bridges first read it he wanted to bring it to the big screen as a vehicle for his father, but that never happened. It has taken some twenty years, but the Giver has finally made it.
The story is that of Jonas, a youth who lives in an ideal society formed in the aftermath of an unnamed catastrophe where there is no prejudice, bad language or discrimination and everyone lives in peace and friendship. However, when he is chosen to be the ‘Receiver of memories’ he finds out the truth about where he lives and the terrible cost that entails; he vows to do something about it. Twenty years ago, this would have been a terrific story, but unfortunately time has not been too kind, the ideas as presented seem somewhat stale and contrived, everything from Logan’s Run to Demolition Man can be seen in it, and as such the film fails to have any ‘originality’ despite being such an influence. Having said that it is very well made and contains enough pathos, characterisation and energy to make an enjoyable if not totally satisfying watch.
As a Blu-ray EiV has released a reasonable package. The picture is extremely good being bright, bold and well detailed, while the sound is equally as effective in terms of the surround environment and bass reproduction. The extras are quite plentiful even if some are more like filler, of particular delight is the original script read though.
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