Safe Haven Blu-ray Review
I have to say that Nicholas Sparks is a very important person in our house. My wife is an avid reader of his books and, when available, there is an autographed copy of his latest under the Christmas tree each year. That being said, I haven’t seen many of the films made from those books, including the latest just released on Blu-ray, SAFE HAVEN.
On a rainy night in Boston a young woman (Hough) runs out of a house, her hands covered in blood. She runs to a neighbor and begs for help. Soon she is on a bus heading for Atlanta. She decides to get off at a little town in North Carolina (the setting of many of Sparks’ stories) called Southport. Calling herself “Katie” she soon has a job and, apparently, buys a house (which in this post 9/11 era seems pretty amazing without having to show ID) and settles into her new life. She even gets friendly with the widowed owner of the local general store. But she’s still on the run and the law is getting closer than she knows.
Stretching believability more than the slingshot that used to propel Wiley E. Coyote, SAFE HAVEN is a formulaic story that seems to come from a class of Romance 101. The leads are attractive, the scenery beautiful (it only seems to rain when the leads are out in a canoe, making their day even more romantic) and the world a perfect place for love. The saving grace of the film is that the leads are giving their all to rise above the treacle. Dancer Hough has begun to carve a Hollywood career out of earnest performances in films like “Footloose” and “Rock of Ages” and doesn’t hurt herself here. She has to do a little more acting here then in the other films and she does a good job dealing with her different emotions. Duhamel is also well suited as Alex, “Katie’s” new love interest. He is a father who lost his wife to cancer and must not only deal with his emotions but those of his children. Duhamel has always been a likable performer and that works in his favor here. Also strong is David Lyons who portrays the cop on “Katie’s” trail with a secret of his own.
It also helps that the producers, including Sparks, hired the gifted Hallstrom to helm the project. A three-time Oscar nominee and director of such films as CHOCOLAT, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE and a personal favorite of mine, ONCE AROUND, Hallstrom does his best to keep the story interesting even at its most predictable. Hallstrom also directed the Sparks-inspired DEAR JOHN so his familiarity with the Nicholas Sparks formula is a plus here. On the production side, the North Carolina scenery is rendered as beautiful as a post card and the musical score, by another DEAR JOHN alum, Deborah Lurie, also carries the tone of the film. A twist at the end of the film gives it a little more weight than the usual Sparks story but unless you’re a fan of the author and his work this may not be your cup of tea.
Video: Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio the 1080p resolution captures all of the beautiful colors in North Carolina
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 the sound is clear and sharp. Several scenes showing the cast out among nature are well mixed, with the chirps of birds and insects blending clearly with the dialogue.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (5:19): Five very quick outtakes which really add nothing to the story.
Alternate Ending (3:37): Not true. This is exactly the same ending with a couple of editing cuts.
Igniting the Romance in “Safe Haven” (9:15): Pretty much a standard “making of” featurette featuring the cast, director Hallstrom and producer/author Sparks.
Josh Duhamel’s Lesson in Crabbing (3:05): A funny bit documenting Duhamel’s bad streak of luck trying to catch a crab.
Set Tour (2:18): Who better than Sparks to lead a tour of the various locations used in the film.