Lois Lowry may have reassured E! News that The Giver is not another teen romance flick, but critics still feel this is something they've seen before—and seen done better.
The author of the 1993 dystopian young adult novel admitted she was nervous when she learned that they cast 17-year-old Odeya Rush for Fiona and 24-year-old Brenton Thwaites to play Jonas, the teenage characters who explore their feelings for each other, because the characters in the book are actually only 11 years old. And this didn't go unnoticed by reviewers.
But it wasn't the casting that left them disappointed—after all, the lineup includes Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård.
The Phillip Noyce-helmed film hits theaters on Friday, but before you snag your tickets, take a look at what some critics had to say about the movie:
•"Sameness, the conformist plague that afflicts the futuristic citizens of Lois Lowry's celebrated and scorned YA novel, The Giver, might also be the name given to what ails the movie adaptation—the latest in a seemingly endless line of teen-centric dystopian fantasies that have become all but indistinguishable from one another. A longtime passion project for producer/star Jeff Bridges, The Giver reaches the screen in a version that captures the essence of Lowry's affecting allegory but little of its mythic pull—a recipe likely to disappoint fans while leaving others to wonder what all the fuss was about."—Variety
•"The changes, which include making the book's 12 year-old hero old enough to make tween viewers swoon (he's played by 25 year-old Aussie Brenton Thwaites), surely enhance marketability, even if they sand some edges off a tale that has won many hearts over the years. The presence of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in supporting roles will help draw some attention from grown-ups who don't know the book, but while the film may see enough success to justify follow-ups (Lowry has written three sequels), this franchise won't come close to competing with The Hunger Games and other more epic series."—The Hollywood Reporter
•"In its own way, the movie version—handsomely directed by Phillip Noyce and featuring an appealing, sure-footed cast of emerging and veteran actors—aptly reflects The Giver's pride of place as the one that started it all, or at least the latest wave. Ironically, it wasn't until its imitators became box office bonanzas that The Giver was seen potentially profitable enough to produce for the big screen. Far less noisy and graphically violent than those films, this mournful coming-of-age tale feels like their more subdued and introspective older sibling, even as it trafficks in the self-dramatizing emotionalism and simplistic philosophizing that are so recognizably symptomatic of the YA genre."—Washington Post
•"If the film aces its depiction of the dawning horror and social alienation that comes with studying yesteryear, the rest is largely a failure. The Giver is an anti-totalitarian allegory so farcically hyperbolic it feels like only a teenager could have come up with it... [It] feels pinned and tucked into place, evincing a too-smooth surface with all the standard narrative folds and corners. The picture is more human than the people it depicts, but it merely goes and ends where you'd expect it to, save for a gruesomely stupid final two minutes that surprises only with its laziness."—The Wrap