The Giver (Blu-ray Review)

The GiverThe Giver centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment.  Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most.  At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. The Giver is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal.

The Giver


I was just about done with high school when The Giver was released to world acclaim. Of course it would be cherished my most teens and young adults for some time and it became a very popular book in its own right. 20 years later The Giver has finally made it to the big screen and now to this shiny Blu-ray disc.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is an idealistic young man, no, wait, there are no ideals here. You’re born, you go to school, and then you are designated a career path best fit to your attributes for the remainder of your days – and you like it. Jonas is fine with this but when he is chosen to study with The Giver – the person in charge of memories, he’ll be exposed to more than he ever bargained for.

Yes, The Giver treads on some familiar territory – that of the grand utopia where everyone lives in eternal bliss not burdened by crime, destruction, etc. Honestly, I was waiting for some one to whip out the three seashells. No, that’s not a knock on the film itself. The film is fine as a standalone feature, because I never did read the book. I do know that Jeff Bridges had acquired the rights many years ago with the intention of having made all those years ago. Of course with this being Hollywood and all it went into development hell and turnaround that it would be almost 20 years before the stars lined up in order to get it made. I’m thinking it has something to do with all the YA getting made into films nowadays.

Meryl Streep also makes an appearance as the Chief Elder who no one questions. She says it and it gets done whatever that is. Streep and Bridges give the film a certain gravitas, because without them to anchor the piece it would definitely just be another YA romp that we’ve seen before. Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes as Jonas’ parents also do well in their respective roles. I like that some of the characters are so naïve and conditioned in a way that they never know that they may be committing a crime, because it’s a clearly out of sight, out of mind society. Wrong is wrong and murder is technically not murder in the context of things.

The Giver is one of the better YA adaptations out there and that may have something to do with the source material bing strong from the get-go. People forget that YA material back in the day was not as sweet or cookie-cutter-ish as it is now. In any event The Giver on Blu-ray is a good enough film that should be judged on its own merit. Give it a go.


The Giver


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: The Giver on Blu-ray looks fantastic. Contrast levels are on point and sharpness levels don’t look to have been messed with – and this is a film with a ton of post-production and it’s great to see that it has retained a very natural looking image for the most part.

Depth: The level of depth in this Blu-ray will grab you and shake the crap out of you. Whatever you may think about the final product of the film you will really believe that you’re in this bleak and ordered world. The Blu-ray format can really surprise a person sometimes.

Black Levels: The majority of the film is in black and white and those scenes are deep and inky when it comes to darkly lit interiors and nighttime exteriors.

Color Reproduction: The Giver is presented in black and white and color. We really can’t comment on the monochrome version as it has no color depth but when rainbow gates open up the colors do shine through the obvious oppression of the black and white canvas.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look nice and healthy on the colorized counterparts in addition to the vibrant stock footage used throughout the film.

Noise/Artifacts: The Giver is noise and artifact free – both versions (color and black and white).


The Giver


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The lossless soundtrack for The Giver is reference quality all the way. I remember when I got up to get something from another room the sound quality remained top notch while I went to get what I needed to get. It’s not loud for the sake of being loud and I like that.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is very active and enhances the onscreen action. There are quite a few action set pieces that benefit from the added low-end rumble.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels keep their cool and never interfere with the front speakers. Ambience and scenes of crowds are nicely blended to together without going overboard and leaking to the front.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is rich and clear and I did not detect any instances of distortion, clipping, or echoing up in the front.


The Giver


I do wish this Blu-ray had an audio commentary by director Phillip Noyce but oh well. The special features we do get are slightly above average but the really cool table reading presented by Jeff Bridges of the Bridges family is very cool. It really does show you how committed he was back then to get the film to the big screen. And 20 years later…here we are.

  • Jeff Bridges Presents The Original Script Reading Featuring Lloyd Bridges (SD, 40:00) – Here’s a very cool table reading of the original script back when it was originally going to be made in the mid-90’s. This is obviously from Jeff Bridges’ personal collection, which is why it’s in SD. This is a very cool time capsule moment and I am glad it was included on this Blu-ray.
  • Making The Giver: From Page To Script (HD, 21:00) – This isn’t necessarily a fluff piece on what a wonderful experience it was to make the film. This featurette talks about why it took so long for the book to get made into a film since the rights were already in place for many years.

  • Jonas’ Harrowing Journey – Extended Scene (HD, 9:00) – Here’s an extended scene that was obviously cut for pacing purposes as it runs long at over 9-minutes long.
  • Press Conference With Filmmakers & Cast (HD, 35:00) – This is the press conference where the principals involved basically try and sell the film to the media. I don’t mind press junkets but this one came off a little too “fluffy” if you get my meaning.
  • “Ordinary Human” Featurette With OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (HD, 3:00) – The singer of some band I don’t know of talks about the song used in the film’s closing credits. This song is really long! The final running time of the film is given as 97 minutes and I think 7-8 minutes are this song alone.
  • Author Lois Lowry On The Giver (HD, 3:00) – This should have been longer but Lowry talks about the book and its legacy 20 years later.
  • Bonus: Study Guide – Here’s an interactive study guide of the book.


The Giver


The Giver was a pretty good film on its own – it’s kind of odd how I really liked it in theaters and liked it a bit less on Blu-ray. The Blu-ray is pretty spectacular – it has near reference video and reference sound and some really neat extras, which is why the final score is averaged out so high. It was good to see Phillip Noyce back in the director’s chair. If you’re a fan of all things Giver then you will probably enjoy this adaptation, which Lois Lowry has endorsed.

Order The Giver on Blu-ray!

The Giver


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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