It's unfortunate that the latest young adult book-to-screen adaptation The Giver is following in the wake of Divergent and The Hunger Games. Although Lois Lowry's 1993 book pre-dates those other stories, it shares startling similarities. After an unspecified world-changing event known only as The Ruin, humans live together in an enclosed, safe, sterile, literally black and white world. The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep, at her most imperious) makes sure that order is maintained and that everyone fills out their specified roles in society once they come of age. Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned the rare and privileged task of becoming a receiver of past memories from The Giver (Jeff Bridges). The past is all but forgotten in this world, but The Giver is guardian to all the wonder, joy and hope of being human, but also its darkest memories of murder, war and suffering. Jonas becomes so absorbed by these new feelings, even love, that he rebels against his society... Besides the aforementioned films, The Giver is also a bit like Logan's Run and even Pleasantville. Too many cinematic similarities make it sound less original though. Dead Calm director Phillip Noyce makes liberal use of black and white, washed-out colour and full colour to illustrate the range of emotions that Jonas is going through. The colour changes can be a little disconcerting at times, but they're mostly used appropriately. Unfortunately, the film is a bit wishy-washy in its world-building. We're told that even a basic human emotion like love doesn't exist in this world, yet hate seems to exist just fine. It doesn't really ring true. Noyce seems more concerned about getting the plot rolling as quickly as possible, rather than giving the audience time to adapt to this strange, not-so-brave new world. Old reliables Streep and Bridges are good value, but spare a thought for Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard, who barely register as Jonas' parents. When a film like The Giver opens with no visible publicity or press screenings, it's usually not a good sign. If the distributor can't be bothered about it, why should audiences? Lukewarm stuff, best avoided.