So this is how you finally make a movie of The Giver after more than 15 years of development hell: By aging up the characters, adding in awesome body-snatching spaceships, and setting the whole thing to a pounding score straight out of the Dystopian YA Handbook.
Lois Lowry’s classic story — one of the first modern dystopic tales written explicitly for a younger audience — takes place in a future where all of the unpleasant, messy aspects of life (war, pain, difference, feelings in general) have been wiped away. (In the book, even the concept of color has been erased… but perhaps because they feared scaring off today’s teens with black-and-white scenes, The Giver‘s team seems to have elected to ignore that part.)
Its main character is Jonas (newly turned 12 in the book, but here played by strapping 24-year-old Aussie Brenton Thwaites), a boy who is chosen to become the community’s new Receiver of Memory — the only person who can recall what life was like before Sameness descended. But as Jonas begins his training under the outgoing Receiver — a.k.a. The Giver (Jeff Bridges, who also produced the film) — he realizes everything his people lost when they elected to soften the world’s hard edges… and decides to take drastic action to change things for good.
The film also stars Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes as Jonas’s parents, Meryl Streep (in full-on Evil Mode) as his community’s Chief Elder, Odeya Rush as his love interest, Fiona, and Taylor Swift as Rosemary, who was chosen to become the new Receiver before Jonas. (If you can spot the trailer’s one brief glimpse at her, you get to skip your “daily injection.”)
The Giver opens Aug. 15.