The Giver casts Maleficent's Brenton Thwaites as Jonas. He lives in a "community." Everyone in the community strives for sameness. Its citizens remember none of the past before society became sterilized.
Anyone or anything more than sameness is dangerous and is done away with.
Jonas is chosen to be the next Receiver of Memories. Learning about what happened in the past before the sameness makes this person an adviser. The Receiver advises the elders if they encounter a problem with which they have no experience. The Receiver learns about past human events like love, hope and dreams. But negatives are there too. Like war, murder and death.
It blows young Jonas' mind. Though he isn't supposed to share what he learns, the temptation is irresistible. It leads to trouble with the elders, and then rebellion.
The film stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes. Bridges is so-so as the predictable Giver, and Holmes has nothing to do. Streep is always exceptional and seems to be the only cast member having some diabolical and nasty fun with her part.
The Giver is written by first-timer Michael Mitnick and Robert Weide, whose experience is mostly documentaries, and is directed by Patriot Games' Philip Noyce. The script is awful, though good -- but not great -- performances and decent effects dot the film's landscape.
Battling -- as The Giver calls it -- "sameness" is a popular sci-fi movie theme stretching back to the genesis of the genre. Movies battling that same sameness end up being almost -- and sadly -- the same.
This one suffers that fate.
Where their parents and grandparents saw a future in the stars, today's teens enjoy a bleaker future. The Giver comes from a 1993 novel and is depressingly interchangeable with Divergent, The Hunger Games and other fare that have today's teen audience loves.
The good news is that these stories -- unlike the popular 1984 of their parents and grandparents' youth -- have somewhat happy but boring endings.
The bottom-line: if Bridges and Streep can't save a movie, it can't be saved.
Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Odeya Rush
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
-- Help Mr. Movie overcome his sameness at www.tricityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.