If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I'm tired of Nicholas Sparks. It's not the monotonous formulaic writing or even his inability to tell a good romanticized story. No, the reason I'm distressed and over my limit is his complete and utter lack of substance. Sparks can't write fleshed out characters if he wanted to. He makes the ending of Stephen King's books look original. Now with all respect he did not write this film, but rather the book this film is based off and let me say, this doesn't make me want to revisit the story anymore than I want to be suffocated and resuscitated repeatedly. All I wanted was a story, which I got, and characters I cared about, which I didn't. What makes this film so frustrating is how beautiful it is and how little you get from it. Had there been a half-way decent writer on this project it could have been good, even great. But instead we get the same old Nicholas Sparks cliched melodrama we all are tired of.
The film opens with a marine named Logan (Zac Efron), who is caught in an ambush in Iraq. The day after the attack he finds a picture of a beautiful girl whose name we find out is, Beth (Taylor Schilling). We flash-forward eight months later to another attack on Logan who is then sent home. After experiencing a small case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) he leaves his sister's house and walks with his dog to Colorado, to find Beth who he believes is his guardian angel. What he finds is a broken and divorced family who he feels he needs to take care of. Beth is divorced with the antagonist police officer, Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), who manipulates her with taking custody of their son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Beth lives with her mother (Blythe Danner) who runs a dog training facility. And let me say, Blythe Danner is one of the only saving graces for this film.
With Sparks not writing the screenplay, we have a guy named, Will Fetters. He is responsible for the atrocity that is Remember Me (2010) and a TV movie Georgetown (2011). What makes this humorous to me is that that is exactly what this film's writing reminds me of. A Hallmark TV movie. You have the the modern war scenario, where the soldier comes home and everything is so mediocre with the cliches and formula that you can't help but shake your head and laugh at some of the dialogue. One line had me laughing for a good couple minutes because the writing was so terrible. Beth shows Logan a boat on a lake and Efron has a reaction of a mentally handicapped person replying, "Wow, what a nice boat," to where Schilling replies "Thanks, my dad was a vet." Even with adding "He fished a lot" after that, feels so sloppy and quite the missed opportunity for both of these actors.
The cinematography for this film was done by Alar Kivilo who has picked some bad films like, Year One (2009) and the not too terrible The Blind Side (2009). However, this is his best filmed movie yet. Shots are absolutely gorgeous that they actually can take your breathe away, but you continue breathing because the rest of the film is so bland and formulaic, that you can't take all of it into consideration. This doesn't have substance. It's like a jelly filled donut without the jelly. It looks good and delicious, but inside it's has nothing. The film has style and I give it props for that, but it still has a minute sense of texture that takes everything away from the characters and the plot. Efron gives one of the worst performances I have seen, which I can't wrap my head around if it's the writing or his acting. While, Schilling might be cute she still has a lack of grasp around this character. Efron's character has a tattoo on his back that says "All glory is fleeting." What it sounds like to me, is an allusion to Efron's career.
Besides the cinematography and the very small scenes with Blythe Danner, I have nothing positive to say about this film. I honestly feel I could have written a better script with a more PTSD aspect to the character and not make the disorder disappear with a plot-hole the size of the sun. With The Vow (2012) previously out this year, I cannot fathom a worse opening for romantic comedies this year. Will this make money? You better believe it. With the demographic toward elderly women and teenagers looking for Zac Efron to take his shirt off (which he doesn't), this will be, without a doubt, Nicholas Spark's next big film hit. However, it shouldn't be. But hey, I loved The Notebook (2004). This is a Some Ole Bullshit! Not as bad as The Last Song (2010) but so, so close.
See ya all on the other side,
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