Book-to-movie adaptations of dystopian teen thrillers are all the rage these days — so it seems — from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth’s Divergent to, most recently, Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
The premise: In a world full of “Sameness” and void of war, pain, sadness and any sort of emotional depth, a young boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is appointed the Receiver of Memories. He begins training with a man called the Giver (Jeff Bridges), who gifts him with memories of the past, when emotions and unfortunate realities ran freely. As Jonas learns more and more, he struggles with the disparity between what was and what is and becomes desperate for change.
It sounds interesting enough, and the book certainly was. Yet the movie is slow. Very slow. So slow that viewers are sometimes left to wonder if there’s even any sort of conflict at all.
Plus, those who have read the book will leave the theater asking questions: “Wait, wasn’t Jonas supposed to be 11 years old?” and “Did the book really end like that?” Both are valid questions as Thwaites is 25, and the book left readers to decide on their own what was to become of Jonas and his community rather than tie up loose ends in a neat little bow.
The acting isn’t completely terrible (Meryl Streep does play the role of Chief Elder after all), and the movie does bear some sort of resemblance to the book. And as Jonas receives more and more memories of a bright and emotional past, the colors on the screen brighten, which is fun to watch — but also somewhat obvious and uncreative.
In the end, reading the book might be the best bet. And for those craving a book-to-movie adaptation of a dystopian teen thriller — have no fear. The Maze Runner is out Sept. 19.