Friday, April 10, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Safe Haven" (2013)

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Movie"Safe Haven"
Director: Lass Hallstrom
Year: 2013
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

A young woman who calls herself Katie (Julianne Hough) is on the run. She is being pursued by a Boston police officer named Tierney (David Lyons). Katie hops onto a bus headed for Atlanta and hops off in a small North Carolina town where she plans to hide out and start over. She meets a widower named Alex (Josh Duhamel) and starts a relationship with him, but when her past starts to get revealed, she has to decide to face it or flee again.

Despite this being an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book, "Safe Haven" starts out promisingly enough for a dramatic love story. Knowing what we know about Sparks as a writer, he can't just leave it at that. This time, a young girl with a mysterious past is on the run from the police and finds herself hiding out in a small town in an effort to rebuild her life. This is an interesting start to what could have potentially been an intriguing thriller interwoven with a blooming, relatively tolerable romance. Filmmakers then add the aspect of Detective Tierney closing in on Katie as soon as she gets comfortable in her new town, which makes it more compelling. Could we actually be enjoying a Nicholas Sparks book adaptation?! Of course, being a story adapted from a Nicholas Sparks "book," romance and believability are never enough for him. No, he always feels like he has to go to the nth degree with a 20-packets of Splenda, overly sappy and melodramatic romance aspect, which not only makes this and all of his movies feel a little slow and boring at times since it's all relationship build-up, but it also makes them so damn predictable! To an extent, we can handle the saccharine-infested love story as a subject matter alone. In fact, we love a good romance movie every now and then, but it's when Sparks feels the need to separate himself from the realm of reality that we become tired of the bull he's peddling and become so disengaged as viewers that we find it hard to drag ourselves to watching the movie adaptations of his books in general.

In many ways, we know what will happen from the get-go in that Katie's past will eventually be revealed as the movie moves along its very twisty path. As with all romance flicks, her past will be a point of contention and will cause a rift in her new-found romance with Alex, which will lead to an ultimate showdown of sorts. Unfortunately, this is all we can say for 'fear' of spoilers, but what we can say is, if a character's real name and purpose isn't immediately revealed in a film, chances are, they are involved in the plot in a big way, and this movie is no exception. Like we said, predictability at its best. Even after the initial reveal of Katie's past, there is still a surprising amount of steam left in the story, though it took long enough to get there time wise. Even at the very final climactic scene, there is still a good enough amount of excitement, at least enough for us to remain engaged and entertained.

Just when we think we're safe and as the movie comes to an overly cheesy close, BAM!! Sparks rears his ugly, delusional head once again, and even all the unnecessary twists and red herrings weren't enough to save this film from its certain doom. "Safe Haven" ends on a ridiculously stupid note with a twist that was unnecessary and not at all related to anything we had just witnessed. It is one of the most contrived, out of left field twists we have ever seen, and not only that, but the amount of eye-rolling it caused gave us headaches. We're still angry about it days later. Be prepared to groan and moan and face-palm your way to angrily removing this film from your Netflix instant queue because in a matter of seconds, POOF! All of your feelings of contentment and positivity about what you've just watched will dissipate. Beyond this utterly stupid ending, everything else about the movie is just okay. The chemistry between Julianne Hough, who is a dancer, not an actress, and Josh Duhamel was fine enough, but nothing will top the believability of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in "The Notebook." There really isn't much else to mention because the ending is so seriously pointless it ruined anything good that could have possibly been added to our review.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 12%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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