Monday, March 21, 2016

Quick Movie Reviews: Nicholas Sparks Edition

A Walk to Remember (2002, USA) | Rating: 3/5
Mandy Moore transformed her cute poptart status into being a saccharine actress. She embodies Jaime with an endearing strength and charm. Shane West does a fine job as the bad boy with a heart of gold. There were some differences from the source material to the film version. Most prominent was the change in time period, updating the original 1950s setting to the 1990s. Filmmakers kept the Christian values from the book without shoving them down the viewers throat. 

The Longest Ride (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5
Sophia is an art student going to a university in rural North Carolina. While there, she meets a bull rider named Luke. Romance seems unlikely since she'll be going to New York for an internship. Luke's charm is too hard to resist and the pair decide to give it a try. Like The Notebook, The Longest Ride follows dual plotlines through a character telling a story. It's through Sophia reading elderly Ira's letters to his wife that we see our past story unfolding. The story of Ira and his wife, Ruth, was much more interesting to me than Sophia and Luke. I would have liked to see their story more fleshed out.

The Notebook (2004, UK) | Rating: 3.5/5
This story begins with an elderly man named Duke reading a fading notebook to a female patient in a nursing home. He's telling her the story of two teenagers named Noah and Allie. The teenagers are completely different as they often are in this stories. Noah is a blue collar boy while Allie is a pampered heiress. These two weren't likely to meet, but, in a small town, these things happen. Allie and Noah make choices based in emotion which lead them to several passionate exchanges. Their story unfolds between the present and the flashbacks of the past. It's a sad and often infuriating story.

The Best of Me (2014, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5
This is probably one of the worst Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Rather than stick with the usual romance tropes, this time he adds murder and a prison sentence. Dawson and Amanda are high school sweethearts. He's the abused son of a local criminal. Regardless, this seems like the usual Sparks setup until Dawson is convicted of accidentally murdering a friend. The pair part ways and come back together as adults through a different death. Once again, the story is told through flashbacks. The ending compounds the depressing nature of this film leaving little to look forward to. It's quite clear that Sparks would rather have his characters suffer than grow through their flawed relationships.

The Last Song (2010, USA) | Rating: 1/5
This one is the hands down worst of the bunch. Whoever thought that Miley Cyrus was the right actress for this part was sorely mistaken. Even Kristen Stewart would give a better performance than Ms Cyrus did. Liam Helmsworth has certainly grown since the Last Song if his performance in the Hunger Games is any measure of talent. The plot itself revolves around a teenager (Cyrus) so rebellious over her parents' divorce that she puts her own future on the line to continue being a brat. Her mother sends Veronica and her younger brother to spend the summer with their estranged father. Veronica, a former child prodigy with a chance at Juilliard that she refused, spends the time being more of a brat and meeting a boy. The majority of the plot rotates between the romance and trying to mend her relationship with her father. Sadly, nothing really works due to the unconvincing portrayal of the characters.

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