A romantic thriller with echoes to Sleeping with the Enemy but with its central love story much more important than its overcooked dramatic elements, Lasse Hallstrom’s Safe Haven enjoys the secrets it keeps from the audience for long stretches of time, but withholding important information from the viewer isn’t always a certain way to endear a movie to an audience. Some might feel cheated or a bit manipulated when the secrets are revealed and leave Safe Haven with a kind of bitter aftertaste.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copykeepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/07/2013
Fleeing from Boston after a nasty altercation with a man and looking for a new life, Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough, no relation) arrives at the sleepy North Carolina seaport town of Southport and gets a job waitressing. Widowed grocery store owner Alex (Josh Duhamel) takes a shine to her and so does his young daughter (Mimi Kirkland) while his sullen son (Noah Lomax) is still grieving over the loss of his mother and is slower to take a shine to the new girl in town and in his father’s life. Meanwhile back in Boston, a driven Boston police detective Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) has made it a personal vendetta to find the fugitive Katie and begins his own search for clues to locate her.
The Production Rating: 3/5
Based on yet another romantic novel by Nicholas Sparks (who is also listed as a producer), the screenplay by Dana Stevens and Gage Lansky spends more than half of the movie (almost an hour and a quarter) slowly building up the tentative romance between the mistrustful Katie and the eager Alex before allowing most of the film’s last forty-five minutes to focus on Tierney’s slow stalking of Katie as his mania renders him more and more psychotic. Director Lasse Hallstrom as is often his manner takes his time working through the rather simplistic emotional baggage of the adults in the film resulting in a movie that feels somewhat longer than it actually is and definitely longer than it needs to be. There are the expected lyrical passages: a joyous day at the beach with the family getting to know Katie which contrasts in tone with the climactic attack scenes set against the backdrop of the village’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration. The “surprise” ending may have the tissues coming out (the idea actually seems lifted somewhat from P.S. I Love You), but wily viewers will likely have been way ahead of the filmmakers rendering their final “gotcha” a bit of a fizzle.
In this her third movie, Julianne Hough has yet to establish much of a cinematic personality of any depth or display any great resources as a dramatic actress. She’s adequate as the film’s heroine and an agreeable love interest to the more interesting but not fully explored character of Alex played by Josh Duhamel. By not giving much to the audience in the way of information about his former life with his wife before her death (and there’s a reason why, even down to robbing the house of pictures of them as a family), the character of Alex seems only a vague cipher that the actor can’t do much to flesh out. Little Mimi Kirkland is adorable as the daughter and is likely delivering the film’s best and most natural performance. Cobie Smulders pops in and out regularly as a neighbor concerned about Katie’s well being. David Lyons goes way overboard as the manic Kevin Tierney, so much so that his superiors in Boston who finally put him on suspension from the police force seem idiotic not to have seen the crazed crackpot that he actually is.
The film’s theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. This is a beautifully detailed transfer with excellent sharpness, gorgeous and consistently maintained color, and realistic and appealing flesh tones. Black levels are really superb with terrific shadow detail. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is rather subdued in its use of the entire soundstage. The dialogue (which is sometimes slightly muddy and undecipherable) has been placed in the center channel while sound effects and the music score of Deborah Lurie are spread nicely across the fronts but with little in the way of surround envelopment. Opportunities for the rears to have a greater presence are plentiful in a movie set near the ocean, but they are only rarely exploited here.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Five deleted/extended scenes (5:19, HD): may be watched separately or together using “Play All.”
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Alternate Ending (3:37, HD): not really that different from what it is the movie now but simply a different series of inserts.
Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven (9:15, HD): the EPK featurette for the film features director Lasse Hallstrom, novelist/producer Nicholas Sparks, and stars Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough, and David Lyons discussing the movie and their characters.
Josh Duhamel’s Lessons in Crabbing (3:05, HD): the actor attempts to catch crabs in a trap and is continually frustrated.
Set Tour (2:18, HD): narrated by novelist Nicholas Sparks and featuring stars Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, this offers a quick tour around the port town of Southport which plays itself in the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (2:16, HD)
Promo Trailer (HD): The Heat
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Safe Haven is an okay romantic suspense drama which doesn’t offer anything new to the genre but on its own provides enough entertainment to warrant a rental for those interested. The Blu-ray release offers superior picture and above average sound encodes.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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