SXSW Review: This is Your Death

This is Your Death poster art

When I went into This is Your Death while at SXSW I was excited by the talent behind it, but admittedly I wasn’t so sure on the story. Some of you may know this old story of watching a trailer and guessing the plot. All things considered I feel that may not be the case for everyone going in but either way it still left me excited to see Giancarlo Esposito’s direction as this was the first time I’d seen him do so, even if it was his second outing. But that is enough rambling, without further ado lets get into it

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Reel Review: Safe Haven

image  Written by: Ben

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Don’t say I won’t see anything to review for you guys, because here I am reviewing a Nicholas Sparks movie, Safe Haven. My manhood was brought into question just for having seen one of these Lifetime movie wannabe romance movies. Alright, so I’m showing my expectations for this film being low, but when every one of these movies follows the exact same general plot…but I’m not gonna bore you with that until we get to the plot.

Katie (Julianne Hough) starts on the run after something terrible happened and she had to escape from the cops, until she gets to some North Carolina beach town. There, she meets the friendly, handsome and single Alex (Josh Duhamel) who is widowed and has two kids and immediately falls for Katie. Katie becomes close with his youngest child, his daughter Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) which leads to a relationship growing between Katie and Alex. Even is his son Josh (Noah Lomax) is kind of a douche overall, but either way, generally their relationship eventually works out and it goes well as a pretty good romantic comedy. We even have the best friend, Jo (Cobie Smulder) who encourages the relationship and I always love. However, like all Nicholas Sparks movies, Katie has a secret that isn’t as big as it seems which has to do with those cops after her. We constantly go back to the highly ineffective detective Tierney (David Lyons) who seems to be at very least a dirty cop, obsessed with finding her.

The problem is that this movie follows that Sparks plot to a tee. Namely 1) girl has a problem or a history she escapes, 2) escapes to a beach town that is just to idealic, 3) meets a sweet single guy with a sad backstory, 4) they get together and are happy until her dark secret is revealed in a huge misunderstanding that quickly gets resolved and they get backed together. That is seriously all that happens here, but as I said the romantic comedy elements worked enough for me so until we get to that last quarter with the secret revealed, it dies. Honestly, that last quarter where there is the misunderstanding, the climax of her past and then a final twist which was just retarded…I lost all good will I had for this movie. Especially with this movie being 1 hour and 55 minutes long, what is that?

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However, its worth noting that a fair amount of the performances aren’t that terrible, for most of the movie. Hough is generally likeable, being very cute and sweet and its very easy to like her for most of the movie…except when she has her moments of overreacting to any cop or act of kindness. Its really depressing when it does that, but I accept it as not being the worst I’ve seen, and not to appeal to me. Duhamel is an actor I’ve liked since Las Vegas, even if he is just Timothy Olyphant light really with half the acting talent. He is charismatic and you appreciate him as a warm presence in the stupidly dark scenes for Hough, but overall I have to admit that when he needs to seriously act, there’s nothing there. One of the best is Kirkland as his daughter who is just adorable, though I just hate Lomax as his asshole son. Lastly Smulder as her friend Jo is seriously enjoyable, just because she is charismatic and all that, but how they wrap up her character, well for lack of a better word its wasted on a character and actor I really liked.

I’ve covered how contrived the writing really is, but we’ll get to the directing as that’s all that is left. Lasse Hallstrom isn’t really an unknown director; he did Salmon Fishing in Yemen and Chocolat but also the other Nicholas Sparks movie Dear John. Overall this movie is essentially what happens when a director doesn’t really do anything but keeps his cast following the script. There’s nothing amazing here at all and I think that largely falls on Hallstrom for not pushing his cast or the crew to be better than Sparks’ mediocre writing. As I said, for most of this I didn’t have a major problem with this movie, but by the end I was just mad at it and its stupid twist, that I even called because I was bored enough to read into it.

Rating: 1.5/5

Reelization:

Basically, if you are a man and you have a lick of sense, this movie isn’t for you and you’d probably only see it with a girlfriend. But there are better things out there for that and for Valentine’s Day (when this movie released) like Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures. If you get dragged to this and you’re open minded like I tried to be, the first half won’t bug you, but by the end of that almost two hour run time, you’ll be mad that you spent the time on this, even if it makes your girl happy. Honestly, you’d be better off spending two hours at a spa day for 4 times the money, just because you’ll leave that relaxed with your significant other just as happy with you if not more so.