Jeff Bridges (left) and Brenton Thwaites go through the YA motions.
THE GIVER (Phillip Noyce). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (August 15). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The YA dystopian fiction craze has sent Hollywood back to revisit 1993's The Giver, a forerunner of the lucrative literary genre. Too bad the movie adaptation feels like it was made by suits only concerned with the bottom line.
How else to explain Taylor Swift's presence? Her performance is laughable, but she's worth more at the box office than co-stars Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.
Director for hire Phillip Noyce and his screenwriters stick to Lois Lowry's book in a workmanlike manner. They refuse to grapple with the material in any way that might be identifiably creative, content to shape the movie into a snack between Hunger Games.
Lowry's text comes with its own visual gimmick familiar to anyone who remembers Pleasantville. In a futuristic brave new world, everything is nice, sterile and the same, and anything that might inspire passion or fury has been filtered out, including colour.
The early scenes are shot in the monochromatic palette described in the book. As our pubescent hero, Jonas (a bland Brenton Thwaites), learns the truth from the titular wise old man (Bridges, in fine form), he cracks open the RGB chart and becomes a public enemy on the run.
There are several nifty ideas at play here, some with a troubling Christian slant. The movie zips through them, which might satisfy genre fans, but everyone else will wonder why terrific actors like Bridges and Streep (as a villainous dictator) are going through the YA motions.