What to Watch prides itself on often offering a wide variety of material from TV seasons to On Demand exclusives to remasters of classic flicks. Not this week. All six of the New Releases that you may be drawn to in your favorite store or on your favorite service are movies, and all released in the last 18 months. But the variety within those movies is remarkable. A Best Picture winner, action flicks, a superhero, and two indie drams that waste talented casts. Pick your favorites. Here’s how we would rank ‘em.
CHICAGO – At its best, Lasse Hallstrom’s “Safe Haven,” based on the book by the insanely popular Nicholas Sparks, is merely safe, Lifetime Channel TV Movie junk. At its worst, it’s pretty offensive and exploitative of women actually stuck in abusive situations and men forced into single parenthood after losing a spouse. As he has done before, Sparks takes real-world issues and turns them into manipulative devices. Hallstrom (“Chocolat”) has enough filmmaking skill to keep it from getting too boring despite the attempts on the part of the two remarkably dull leads to put you to sleep.
CHICAGO – It’s Valentine’s Day, and along with the impossible to get dinner reservations, the decision of which movie to see has probably spoiled this holiday as much as Walgreen roses. But the romantic drama ‘Safe Haven’ is a well performed, well paced narrative that won’t make you gag, and that includes you wishing-to-see-Die-Hard dudes.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly anticipated “Safe Haven” starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel!
CHICAGO – The Blu-ray of Scott Hicks’ horrendous “The Lucky One” includes special features called “Zac Efron Becomes a Marine,” “Watch the Sparks Fly - The Romantic World of The Lucky One,” and “Zac and Taylor’s Amazing Chemistry.” This is false advertising. Because it implies that Mr. Efron believably becomes a Marine, the film is even slightly romantic, or that its two stars have an ounce of chemistry. This is the bottom of the Nicholas Sparks barrel, an inert romantic drama that fails on every level.
CHICAGO – I’m of two minds about the work of Nicholas Sparks. On one hand, I admire his sensitive portrayals of good-hearted people, particularly young lovers, which serve as comfort food for teenagers overwhelmed by peer pressure.
CHICAGO – The belief that most people are decent at heart may seem overly naive in a society that often favors cynicism over sincerity. Yet it is precisely this hopeful worldview that has made Nicholas Sparks one of the most successful authors of his time. His international bestsellers have captivated readers worldwide, and have inspired seven big screen adaptations.
CHICAGO – Nicholas Sparks is the Michael Bay of touchy-feely weepies. No matter how derivative or cynically calculating his stories prove to be, they never fail to rake in the dough. Several of his books have been turned into blockbusters, the best of which benefit greatly from the strength of their cast, as in “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook.”
CHICAGO – A romantic drama like “Dear John” relies SO much on the chemistry between the two leads that if it’s not there, the whole thing falls apart. No one wants to watch an ill-fated romance if they don’t believe the love story that drives it. Luckily, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried have instant, palpable chemistry and that mostly carries the relatively generic and extremely cliched “Dear John” over some serious rough spots.
CHICAGO – Love stories are as common at the movies as popcorn and sticky floors. Despite this, rising stars Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried add their own spin to the timeworn plot theme in “Dear John.”
CHICAGO – Hot young stars are always welcome on the playground of popular culture. Prime examples are Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, whose charming insights highlight their up-and-coming status in promoting their new film, “Dear John.”