Book to Screen: Why THE GIVER Movie Is Nothing Like Lois Lowry’s Novel

by     Posted 119 days ago

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I’ve covered a lot of young adult book-to-film adaptations over the years, and I’ve always made a point of assessing the film as a standalone entity when writing a formal review – but this is not a formal review.  Initially, this piece was intended to be a rather straightforward book/film comparison, but considering Phillip Noyce’s The Giver bears almost no resemblance to Lois Lowry’s award-winning and beloved source material and suffers severely for it, all there is to discuss are differences and the problems they cause.

Hit the jump to read about what the film version of The Giver did different – or rather, did wrong.  [This article contains spoilers for both the book and the movie.] 

Director Phillip Noyce and Author Lois Lowry Discuss THE GIVER, the Adaptation Process and Unused Screenplays

by     Posted 122 days ago

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We live in an age of constant YA Film Adaptations. Chances are if there’s a book series aimed at the tweens, then there’s a corresponding film either made or being made. There’s a strange irony to the fact that The Giver (one of the first dystopian YA book series) struggled for over eighteen-years to make it to the big screen, its film adaptation only coming to fruition after a number of its imitators found huge financial dividends in theaters. This Friday, Lois Lowry’s award winning book finally hits the big-screen. Some of the details may be different – a couple characters have been aged up & a number of roles expanded upon – but tonally it feels of one with Lowry’s introspective and rather downbeat sci-fi tale.

In the following interview with Lowry and director Phillip Noyce, the duo discuss the feature’s fidelity to the source material, the adaptation process and the different screenplays that never came to be. Hit the jump, for the full interview.

Weekend Box Office: NINJA TURTLES Rule for Second Week; EXPENDABLES 3 Overtaken by LET’S BE COPS

by     Posted 123 days ago

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The top two spots on the box office chart remained unchanged for a second weekend, as audiences favored Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy over a handful of new releases.  But in something of a surprise, the strongest of those new films turned out to be Let’s Be Cops.  The R-rated comedy has moved ahead of The Expendables 3 since Friday, which might say more about the weakness of the latter rather than the strength of the former.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $28,400,000 $117.6
2.  Guardians of the Galaxy $24,735,000 $222.2
3.  Let’s Be Cops $17,700,000 $26.1
4.  The Expendables 3 $16,200,000 $16.2
5.  The Giver $12,760,000 $12.7
6.  Into the Storm $7,720,000 $31.3
7.  The Hundred-Foot Journey $7,109,000 $23.6
8.  Lucy $5,317,000 $107.5
9.  Step Up All In $2,700,000 $11.8
10.  Boyhood $2,150,000 $13.8

 

Full story after the jump.

TOP 5: THE EXPENDABLES 3, The Problem with Superhero Sagas, Guillermo del Toro Involved in New SILENT HILL Game, THE GIVER, THE BABADOOK

by     Posted 124 days ago

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There’s nothing I can write in the space allotted here that will do justice to the life and career of Robin Williams. His talent was enormous and just as we’re all the better for the work he did, his loss robs us of the things he might still have done. When I was a kid, Williams and Francis Ford Coppola‘s Jack was the first film that ever made me cry. I can remember being 10-years-old and dumbfounded by his ability to make me smile and sob within the context of a single scene. In spite of knowing that it would break my heart, I couldn’t wait to rewatch it as soon as it ended so I could laugh and cry all over again. In the grand scheme of things, his turn in Jack isn’t anywhere near his most beloved work. Given the film’s 17% RT score, I seem to be among the few who have any endearing memories of the film. We should all be so gifted that even our misses leave a lifelong impression on others.

In an impossible segue, this week’s Top 5 features interviews for and Matt’s review of The Expendables 3, Adam’s editorial on why he believes that treating movies like television is a bad idea, the news that Guillermo del Toro is involved in the next Silent Hill game, interviews for and Adam’s review of The Giver, and the new trailer for writer/director Jennifer Kent‘s horror pic The Babadook. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.

Friday Box Office: NINJA TURTLES Leads; EXPENDABLES 3 Bleeds

by     Posted 124 days ago

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It looks like it’s going to be a tough weekend for new titles at the box office.  All three major releases came in lower than projected on Friday, which allowed holdovers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy to hold on to their first and second place rankings.  The Expendables 3, the most notable newbie, earned an estimated $6.9 million on its first day in theatres.  That suggests an opening weekend of about $16 million, or less than half what the first Expendables earned from its debut back in August 2010.  Fox’s Let’s Be Cops came in fourth on Friday with $5.6 million.  The R-rated comedy opened early, on Wednesday, with $5.2 million and should end its first weekend with just under $15 million.  The Giver earned an estimated $4.7 million from 3,003 locations yesterday.  The adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel, The Giver should bring in $13 million in its first three days.  That tops recent young adult adaptations including Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments, but that’s not saying much.

Details and Friday’s top five chart after the jump.

Brenton Thwaites & Odeya Rush Talk THE GIVER, THE SIGNAL & Ambiguous Endings

by     Posted 125 days ago

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Set in an undisclosed-future, a utopian society has found peace and stability through a systematic removal of everything that makes them individuals. The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal winning book, details what the costs of such a ‘Hegelian’ vision of the future entails – sure there’s no war or violence or despair; but also no love or joy or emotion of any kind.  Like most YA novels/films, there’s, of course, a number of teens who rise up against their totalitarian elders, daring to challenge the status quo; but it’s a testament to Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush that they’re able to imbue these prototypical characters with surprising depth, an undercurrent of futile despair hanging off their every line.

In the following interview with Rush and Thwaites, the two young actors discuss the ‘daunting’ task of playing characters from such a beloved series, the differences in the film from their book counter-parts and using the script vs. the novel as a reference. In addition — Brenton Thwaites talked about the ambiguous ending of The Signal and the potential for a sequel. Hit the jump, for the full interview.

THE GIVER Review

by     Posted 126 days ago

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Trends come and go in Hollywood with varying degrees of success, and one of the genres that appears to be “in” at the moment is the YA adaptation—specifically films with a dystopian bent.  The Hunger Games and Divergent both dealt with young protagonists rebelling against oppressive, authoritarian governments, and while at first glance The Giver may look like a simple cash-in on the trend, the source material predates the current dystopian craze by over a decade.  The road to a feature film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel has been long, but it now finally makes it to the screen with producer Jeff Bridges taking on the titular role.  However, though the film is surprisingly deft at handling some of the deeper questions raised by the book and boasts a pair of strong lead performances, the adaptation fails to flesh out other aspects of the story, resulting in a rather mixed bag.

Cameron Monaghan Talks THE GIVER and the Upcoming AMITYVILLE Sequel/Reboot

by     Posted 126 days ago

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Cameron Monaghan is slowly becoming the go-to utility player for YA film adaptations. Just earlier this year, he co-starred in Vampire Academy as the poor put-upon best friend of the two leads and this Friday in The Giver, he once again co-stars as… the poor put-upon best friend of the two leads. As Ash, he’s the wildcard to the more straight-laced Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) & Fiona (Odeya Rush). As his two friends grow to distrust their surrounding utopian community, Ash finds himself brought into the fold. It’s not long before he is pitted against his former ‘besties’, forced to decide between his personal relationship to them and the will of the community. It’s a difficult role – in that most screen-time is given to Thwaites and Rush, leaving Monaghan’s transformation largely off screen; yet somehow the actor is able still to convey the shift in Ash’s demeanor from rebel to follower in a few relatively brief moments.

In the following interview with Monaghan, he discusses expanding on the book for his character, the tragedy of Ash’s transformation and shooting the upcoming Amityville sequel/reboot. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Jeff Bridges Talks THE GIVER, Its Long Road Into Theaters and the Legacy of THE BIG LEBOWSKI

by     Posted 127 days ago

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There’s a deep well of sadness at the center of The Giver, loss and regret circling from within. Most YA adaptations (e.g. The Hunger Games & Divergent) have the veneer of grittiness, but underneath their dystopian features lies a fairly upbeat ‘rah-rah’ tale of the little men rising up against their fascist over-bearers. The Giver may seem like another notch on this belt (despite predating the lot of these books); but underneath there’s a far more subversive agenda at work: what if overthrowing the fascists wasn’t all it was made up to be?  What if the only way to preserve humanity was to curb its very self?  Anchoring such dispiriting notions is the welcome sternly presence of Jeff Bridges, his shrunken eyes and ragged face instantly conveying the deep emotional turmoil of such a compromising vision.  He’s the beating, withering heart of the picture, adding an immediate sense of gravitas without even having to utter a line.

In the following interview with the actor, he discusses why it took eighteen-years to bring The Giver to the big screen, his penchant for playing melancholic characters and the enduring popularity of ‘The Dude’ from The Big Lebowski.  For the full interview, hit the jump.

THE GIVER Clip: Hologram Taylor Swift Plays Piano

by     Posted 131 days ago

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The Weinstein Company has released a new The Giver clip from director Philip Noyce’s adaptation of the Lois Lowry novel, this time featuring Taylor Swift.  I’m still not sure what to make of the film as a whole.  I read the book as a kid and enjoyed it immensely, but it’s been marketed heavily as a kind of Hunger Games riff.  I’m not sure if this is simply a case of getting audiences into the theater or if the trailers are really indicative of the film, but I’m hoping it’s a more introspective piece in line with Lowry’s novel.  For those unfamiliar, the story takes place in a utopian society where all memories of the past reside with a sage figure known as “The Giver”.  This new clip shows Jeff Bridges’ Giver character talking about the previous recipient of his memories (Swift), revealing a musical hologram of the two.

Hit the jump to watch the new The Giver clip, and if you missed our Comic-Con panel recap click here.  The film also stars Brenton Thwaites, Meryl StreepAlexander SkarsgardKatie Holmes, Cameron Monaghan, and Odeya Rush.  The Giver opens in theaters on August 15th.

THE GIVER Comic-Con Panel Recap: Jeff Bridges and Lois Lowry Discuss the 20-Year Journey of Bringing the Sci-Fi Adaptation to Life

by     Posted 147 days ago

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I had never read The Giver until a few days ago even though I was the target audience when the book came out in 1993; it had just fallen through the cracks for me.  Feeling that I had to read the novel as due diligence, I blew through the book in a matter of hours (I read at a 1st grade level!) I was intrigued by the dystopian story, but it also made me aware that the trailers for the film adaptation were trying to squeeze it into the mold of The Hunger Games.  A sensible marketing decision, but one that may shortchange a solemn story about a young man who realizes his sterile world has wiped away memories of not only pain but also love.  I hoped that the panel would make it clear if the Hunger Games angle was more of a marketing approach or if the book had undergone some dramatic changes.

Hit the jump for my The Giver Comic-Con panel recap.  The film opens in theaters on August 15th.

Comic-Con 2014 Schedule for Wednesday’s Preview Night and Thursday, July 24th Includes CONSTANTINE, HANNIBAL, BATMAN ’66, and More

by     Posted 161 days ago

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The Comic-Con 2014 scheduled for Wednesday’s July 23rd’s Preview Night and Thursday, July 24th has been announced.  As they’ve done in previous years, Preview Night will offer fans a first look at the pilots for upcoming shows.  This year’s lineup is for The Flash, Constantine, and iZombie plus a brand new episode Teen Titans Go!.  On Thursday, you’ll get a much stronger Hall H lineup than last year with presentations from DreamWorks Animation, The Giver, Paramount Pictures, Entertainment Weekly’s: The Visionaries (the “visionaries” haven’t been announced yet, but usually this is a fascinating panel), and a look at the upcoming Batman ’66 Blu-ray set.  Folks in Ballroom 20, which hosts plenty of TV panels, will get to see presentations for 24, Teen Wolf, Hannibal, and Penny Dreadful.  Then there’s an outlier with Sony Pictures doing a presentation in the Indigo Ballroom over the in Hilton Bayfront Hotel.  That’s how packed Comic-Con is this year: there’s no room for a major studio that’s bringing Goosebumps and Pixels.

Hit the jump for Comic-Con 2014 schedule highlights from Wednesday’s July 23rd’s Preview Night and Thursday, July 24th.  The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con will run from July 23rd to July 27th.

Brenton Thwaites Talks THE SIGNAL, What Distinguishes It from Other Sci-Fi Thrillers, THE GIVER, GODS OF EGYPT, SON OF A GUN, and More

by     Posted 188 days ago

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Brenton Thwaites plays an MIT computer whiz in The Signal who gets more adventure than he bargained for on a cross-country road trip with his college friends when they take an unexpected detour into the desert in search of a mysterious hacker.  The journey turns dark and disconcerting when Nic (Thwaites) realizes he’s been abducted and is being held in an isolated, underground facility where he’s subjected to a series of bizarre interrogations by an enigmatic doctor (Laurence Fishburne).  Opening June 13th, the stylish sci-fi thriller shot on location in New Mexico is directed by William Eubank and also stars Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with Thwaites who took time from his busy schedule to talk to me by phone from the set in Sydney, Australia where he’s currently shooting Gods of Egypt.  He revealed how The Signal first came to his attention, what drew him to the script, why he loved the emotional arc of his character, how he enjoyed collaborating with his director, what he learned from working with Fishburne, what he feels distinguishes The Signal from other sci-fi films, and his upcoming projects that he’s excited for audiences to see including The Giver, Son of a Gun, Ride and Gods of Egypt.  Check out the interview after the jump.

New THE GIVER Trailer: Meryl Streep Rules in Black and White

by     Posted 197 days ago

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The Weinstein Company has released a new The Giver trailer for director Philip Noyce’s (Salt) adaptation of the beloved Lois Lowry book.  The sci-fi thriller takes place in a utopian society where all memories of the past reside with a sage figure known as “The Giver”.  Jeff Bridges plays the titular character and Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent) plays a young boy who has been selected to be the new Giver.  This is the first trailer to actually make the film stand out from the similarly themed Hunger Games and Divergent franchises (which is ironic, since Lowry’s source material predates both), as it appears that Noyce is keeping the black and white aesthetic from the book—at least at the beginning of the film.  The clip also gets a boost from Clint Mansell’s Requiem for a Dream score, but overall I’m now a bit more interested in seeing what Noyce has put together.

Hit the jump to watch the new The Giver trailer.  The film also stars Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, and Odeya RushThe Giver opens in theaters on August 15th.

THE GIVER Character Posters and Images Featuring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Taylor Swift

by     Posted 209 days ago

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The Weinstein Company has released a slew of The Giver posters and images from director Philip Noyce’s adaptation of the Lois Lowry novel.  The story takes place in a utopian society where all memories of the past reside with a sage figure known as “The Giver”.  Jeff Bridges plays the titular character and Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent) plays a young boy who has been selected to be the new Giver.  These character posters introduce the main cast, which also includes Meryl Streep, Alexander SkarsgardKatie Holmes, and a brunette Taylor Swift.  I still don’t have a solid hold on what Noyce’s take on the material entails, but I imagine the film will become more clear as we approach the release date.

Hit the jump to check out the The Giver posters and images.  The film also stars Cameron Monaghan and Odeya RushThe Giver opens in theaters on August 15th.

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