Film reviews and movie news



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Double feature: Sparks flying

Double feature of Dear John and The Last Song, both adapted form Nicholas Sparks books.

Dear John (directed by Lasse Hallström)

IMDB page

Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas

He said:
This film hit a bit close to home for me as Helen mentions below, but much like all of Nicholas Spark's novels adapted for film this film hit the nail on the head. There are a lot of authors that have little to say to the production team after they sell their novel. I really think that Nicholas Sparks is there as much as he can get away with.

Though not all of his films follow the narrative of the novels on which they are based they keep the heart and over all feel of the story that inspired them. Fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz can bare witness to how rare and usually hit and miss a film treatment can be. Ken Kessey has never seen the film of his 1973 novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" as they changed nearly everything but the title.

The actors all did a fantastic job, though I did have a little laugh when I remembered that Channing Tatum has played a soldier numerous times in his recent films (including Stop Loss and the less credible, GI JOE) he has come along way since his little dancing films. Richard Jenkins as Tatum's Autistic father is superb as well.

Amanda Seyfried has become a bankable name in a relatively short amount of time as well. the last three years have seen her in numerous films each of them a bigger and more challenging roll than the one previous. She doesn't disappoint here at all, her character really sacrifices the most and sees the most amount of growth over the course of the film.

I really enjoyed this film and feel it is very much inline with Sparks' previous film adaptions definitely worth watching. I give this film [[[4 out of 5]]]

She said:

I have admit that I wasn't sure about this. Not because I think it was going to be bad but because it is close to home in several ways. James used to be in the U.S. Army, and we also came from 5000 miles apart to be together. So the hardships of maintaining long distance relationships and the thought of what I would do if James were in the Army now were at the forefront of my mind. But, as I expected, this movie was well made and highly enjoyable (and yes... there was a tear or two).

The story was linear with subplots being very much still in the main storyline. In my opinion it takes a good director to pull off a linear film in a time when audiences have come to expect complex and diverse plots. I enjoyed watching a film that was different in this way; something refreshing.

The thing this film really had going for it was the acting. Dealing with subjects such as war and terrorism, loss and understanding, the actors could have easily slipped into cliched representations of their charcaters. However I felt that Seyfried and Tatum were believable and accurate with the passion and longing they conveyed. However I was most impressed by Richard Jenkins who played Tatum's dad, a man with some form of undiagnosed autistic spectrum disorder. The face avoidance and routine he portrayed was believable and sympathetic.

I give it {{{4 out of 5}}}

They said:

If you do see this film, whatever you do don't see it with a class of screaming school girls. We speak from experience. Despite this hindrance we still loved this movie. We give it {{{8 out of 10}}}

The Last Song (directed by Julie Anne Robinson)

Starring: Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston

IMDB page

He said:

This is one of the few Nicholas Sparks books I haven't yet had the chance to read, and I think that I am going to search it out to see just how different it is from the film. This film is the first time that Nicholas Sparks has adapted one of his own novels. I am very curious as to why he chose to go in that specific direction.

According to the other reviews I have read on the novel the character of Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) is strong and independent and over all a fantastic role model. Unfortunately Miley's portrayal of the Ronnie comes off as a bit of an annoying attitude driven extrovert. I don't want to give the impression that this is a bad film. It just wasn't as good as it should have been.

Miley Cyrus has accomplished the monumental task of proving she can act (as opposed to the Hannah Montana/Miley where she is just playing Miley in a wig). Unfortunately for her she isn't very good at it. To be fair she is just 17 and might learn some skills that others are born with. I don't know about anyone else but her teeth are incredibly distracting to me, they never seem to fit correctly into her mouth, which quite frankly took me out of the film more than once.

Greg Kinnear's portrayal of Ronnie's father, Steve was very well played and with out giving anything away I thought his character was handled very well and with the grace of only an actor of his caliber could achieve. Some of the most touching moments of the film are of Steve and Jonah (the younger brother) and have very little dialogue.

This film isn't the best film we have seen this year but it is far from the worst. I give it [[[3 out of 5]]]

She said:

In short this film is decidedly average. It wasn't terrible... it just wasn't great. I felt that the direction, as James said, was a little misplaced. I wanted more focus on Ronnie's relationship with her dad but it seemed to be primarily about her boyfriend (who was in Neighbours, an Australian soap that I love!). Maybe they were trying to win over younger fans with this direction?

Cyrus was also average in her acting. I also was highly distracted by her mouth and teeth, although I can't blame bad acting on her genetic makeup. She was often wooden and her New York accent had definately drifted 1500 hundred miles south-west. The chracater of Ronnie you could tell was complex; she was messed up about her parents seperation. I got it... but I didn't feel it.

If you are a Miley fan you will probably enjoy this film but don't go into it expecting a masterpiece. It often edges on tacky but maintains interest and investment nevertheless. I give this film an average {{{3 out of 5}}}

They said:
While we wouldn't suggest running out to see this film in theaters, it would be fine for a night in. We give it {{{6 out of 10}}}


  1. It's a rainy, miserable Sunday and I was considering going to see this film with Steve so I thought I'd read your review first. I'm glad I did as it doesn't sound anything special. I think I'd rather mooch around here and save my money for something better.

  2. I'm SO GLAD you both reviewed these films. I honestly want to see both, but now I know that I may just want to see "Dear John" first. :) Though Karissa and I have both decided we really want to see "The Last Song." I think it's pretty explanatory why. ;)