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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Nights in Rodanthe



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#1 of 1 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted February 10 2009 - 07:38 PM

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 MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURESVideo1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:11080i or 1080p high definitionAudioDolby Digital: English 5.1, French 5.1 (dubbed in Quebec), Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1Dolby Digital: English 5.1 and 2.0SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish and Portuguese (movie and select bonus material)

The Feature: 2/5
After being separated for seven months, Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) gets a surprising announcement from her husband. He wants to get back together.

While it's clearly what their two children want, she's not so sure, so she takes the weekend to think it over, although it's a weekend that involves taking care of her friend's oceanside bed and breakfast, whose sole guest is handsome Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere).

But romance with a stranger is actually the furthest thing from their minds. They're both facing crucial life decisions - she with her marriage and he with his career and estranged relationship with his son Mark (James Franco) - though it quickly becomes clear that together they can help each other traverse the crossroads. While a mid-life romance is ultimately unexpected, it's also blessedly transformational, restoring both Paul and Adrienne's sense of self and hope in life.

Overlooking the fundamental problem (i.e. wisdom) of a single woman being stuck in an isolated location with a male stranger for the weekend, "Nights in Rodanthe" starts out fairly promising. There's no treacly meet-cute and there's an interesting subplot involving Paul's journey to the seaside. Their developing relationship is even plausible, growing out of a combination of immediate need and genuine attraction. But any subtlety or organic qualities are swept away by a literal storm that batters their existence. Starting from there, the film devolves into the thing I feared it would be - a manipulative tearjerker that doesn't earn the emotions it wants to elicit. One particular turn of events is so extreme that it winds up feeling cruel. And while I confess I got misty at the intended moments, I resented it the entire time, ultimately filling me with nothing but ill will for the movie itself.


Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Short of a little haloing along high contrast edges, the picture is uniformly excellent. Blacks are deep and inky, shadow detail and overall contrast look natural, colors have great depth and saturation (in particular the various shades of blue), and fine object detail is impressive, especially with skin texture and the numerous scenic shots of the ocean. Though grain structure is not obvious, neither is noise reduction, the only hint of anything "digital" being the previously mentioned haloing.


Audio Quality: 4/5
The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track shows an impressive depth and range during the pivotal storm sequence, which includes LFE-laden growls of thunder, discrete details of shattering glass, and immersive wraparound effects of rain and wind. The rest of the mix is the standard combination of center channel dialogue with surrounds providing soundtrack support and an occasional environmental effect. But it's presented effectively, sounding consistently balanced and clear. Some may be disappointed by the absence of a lossless track, though I imagine the lossy option will prove more than satisfying for the majority of listeners.


Special Features: 2/5
Though all the features are presented in high definition, there's not much of substance, the major pieces feeling overly promotional.

"The Nature of Love" (21m23s): Director George C. Wolfe, Emmylou Harris and the two lead actors talk about the film's major themes and ideas. Since there's not much in the film that is open to interpretation, there aren't a lot of insights to be had, though you can't fault their apparent enthusiasm for the material.

"In Rodanthe: An Intimate Look at Nights in Rodanthe with Singer/Songwriter Emmylou Harris" (12m15s): Wolfe interviews Harris about her background in music, how the script inspired the song she wrote for the film, and her songwriting process.

Alternate Scenes (7m20s): Five scenes, with commentary by Wolfe, include scenic shots from the area, a couple short sequences that were cut for pacing, a post-storm image that might have proved too jarring post-Katrina, and the entirety of the folk song performed on the pier.

"A Time for Love: Keeping Up with Nicholas Sparks" (11m20s): Sparks talks about his writing process, his other interests and activities and what inspires his stories.

"Love Remains the Same" Music Video by Gavin Rossdale (4m09s)

BD-Live: At the time of login, the only film-related feature was a trailer for the DVD and BD release.

Digital Copy: Download a digital copy for playback on computer or portable video device. Compatible with both Mac and Windows.


Recap

The Feature: 2/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Overall Score (not an average): 2.5/5

A manipulative tearjerker gets very good audio and video transfers and a mostly superficial set of special features.
Edited by Cameron Yee - 7/23/2009 at 02:34 am GMT
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com





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