Endless Love coos its sweet nothings on Blu-ray with an edition that presents this interminable movie in solid picture and sound but cannot get past the emptiness at its core. The film is aimed toward teenage girls, but one has to ponder if the intended audience will go for it. The story is a simple one about forbidden romance and disapproving parents, and the movie certainly has an attractive cast playing out the beats. But there just isn’t any “there” there. Fans of this material will probably do better to watch the earlier movie version with Brooke Shields or better yet, simply read the book.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/27/2014
Endless Love should be a foolproof teen romance, if you look at it on the surface. The movie features an attractive cast led by Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde as star-crossed young lovers whose affair tears a hole in both of their families. The movie features some beautiful location photography of Atlanta, and on a technical level, it’s solidly crafted. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the movie’s strong suits. What we’re lacking here is any substance below the surface – in the writing, directing and most of the acting. The two leads are pretty enough, but neither has anything going on under the hood. Playing the girl’s disapproving father is Bruce Greenwood, who gamely attempts to bring some layers to a woefully underwritten role. Playing the boy’s sympathetic father is Robert Patrick, here getting to play a bit of a good guy for a change. Playing the girl’s concerned mother is Joely Richardson, who really isn’t given anything to do but fret about the situation every few minutes. The movie’s plot drags on without much going on for nearly two hours, at which point the viewer truly knows the meaning of the title. And the really sad part here is that this did not have to be the case at all. What seems to have happened is that a fairly dark 1979 novel has now received its second sanitized film adaptation, and the new one is even farther away from the source material. I believe that an interesting and tragic story could easily be wrought from some of the elements here, albeit with some recasting. Certainly Romeo & Juliet proves that. But what we see here is completely lacking in the actual grist that would make a love story compelling. If anything, this movie has been wildly simplified to presumably attract a teenage female audience.
The Production Rating: 1.5/5
SPOILERS HERE: The original novel by Scott Spencer is actually not a true love story. The main character, David, is more of an obsessed stalker than a lover of the girl, Jade. The book unfolds mostly in flashback as we see David and Jade wind up in a relationship despite David’s dangerous actions, which include the burning down of Jade’s family home and the manslaughter of her father. For the 1981 movie with Brooke Shields, director Franco Zefferelli (who had directed the stellar 1968 Romeo & Juliet) fashioned a slightly more optimistic vision of the story. In that version, the characters are truly lovers, albeit young ones, and the plot includes multiple ideas designed to shock the viewer – such as Jade’s mother trying to seduce David, a graphic depiction of Jade’s father being hit by a car, and a prison ending for David. It’s hard to say that there was much of a happy resolution to the 1981 film, and it was already several leagues away from the source material. For the new 2014 movie, Shana Feste has taken things a few steps farther away from the source. David and Jade are now just a pair of beautiful young people who we can tell belong together from the opening frames of the movie. Sure, David has a troubled past, but nothing that really comes across as THAT bad. And Gabriella Wilde’s Jade is possibly the prettiest girl in the school – which makes it inexplicable that she somehow has no friends and can’t find anyone to sign her yearbook except David, with whom she’s never spoken before. Jade’s family is shown as a well-to-do attractive bunch who are a bit depressed about Jade’s brother having died of cancer years before. The dad’s a bit of a controlling guy, but he means well – until he meets David, who he hates on sight. So while David and Jade fall into their affair, the father seems to be there to register unmotivated disapproval. One thing leads to another, the father finds dirt in David’s past, David and Jade argue, Jade crashes her car, and everything builds to a confrontation between David, Jade and the angry dad. Of course, David doesn’t do anything to the father other than punch him once, and the movie makes clear that the father is in the wrong. And the big fire at Jade’s house isn’t due to David setting the blaze but instead the inadvertent result of an argument between Jade and the angry dad. Instead of actually showing any consequences to the affair, the movie instead shakes a finger at the dad and gives the happy couple a fairy tale ending. (There is such a thing as suspension of disbelief, but it depends on the viewer not being asked to go this far out on a limb…)
MORE SPOILERS: What we’re missing here is any sense of what is driving this relationship and what is going on other than attractive people looking good together. We get no sense of WHY these two want to be together – just that they do. We get no sense of any reality of a love affair – only the 1980s pop song version, punctuated with tense moments when angry dad tries to break it up. Given that the original book and the earlier movie exist, we must conclude that the lack of any dimensionality is a deliberate choice. The filmmakers are clearly presenting an idealized vision of a teen love affair – but there’s no substance to back it up. Watching the film is an experience akin to trying to spend two hours eating cotton candy rather than dinner. In the same way, the movie is an unfulfilling and ultimately stultifying experience. It’s clear that the filmmakers are hoping this approach will please a teenage audience of girls. And frankly, that’s not giving teenage girls the respect of being able to follow a real love story rather than a postcard.
Endless Love was released last month on Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray includes the movie in high definition picture and sound and a handful of special features, including an 18 minute featurette and over 30 minutes of deleted material. The Blu-ray also includes the DVD edition in the packaging, along with instructions for downloading a digital copy.
Endless Love is presented in a 2.35:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 34 mbps) that certainly shows off a wide variety of environments and flesh tones in a satisfying manner. The rural Georgian locations are quite beautiful as presented here.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Endless Love has an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (@ an average 3.2 mbps, going up to 4.9 mbps in the bigger moments), which mostly serves to present the dialogue clearly in the front channels, while presenting the music and occasional atmospherics in the surrounds. The big moments for this mix come during an early party scene where the subwoofer and all the speakers roar to life for the kids’ dance contest. The movie is also presented in a DTS 5.1 mix in French and Spanish. An English DVS track is
Audio Rating: 4/5
Endless Love comes with a few bonus features, including about 30 minutes of deleted material and an 18 minute featurette on the making of the movie.
Special Features Rating: 2/5
Extended Ending – (2:36, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – A slightly longer version of the movie’s ending is presented here. It doesn’t really change the destination as it were – it just adds a little more runway before you get there.
Deleted Scenes – (29:45 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – Nineteen deleted and alternate versions of scenes are presented here in high definition, some of them in multiple iterations. The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.
The Making of Endless Love (17:59, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette may actually hold the title of being the fluffiest behind-the-scenes piece I’ve ever seen. Feste and her designers and some of the cast engage in the usual mutual compliments, while talking about how the movie really captures young love. As with the movie itself, there’s simply no “there” there with this featurette.
DVD – The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition of the movie, presenting it in standard definition with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, Spanish and French (@448 kbps) and the English DVS track, and including The Making of Endless Love as its only special feature.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference.
Endless Love gets a solid technical presentation on Blu-ray, but there’s just not enough substance here to keep even romance fans engaged for nearly two hours. It’s beautiful to look at, but to quote the late, great Clara Peller: “Where’s the Beef?”
Overall Rating: 1.5/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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