The latest from Nicholas Sparks' long line of overly sentimental turkeys is 'The Lucky One.' One wonders if we'll finally get to a point where Sparks' ridiculously ham-fisted tales of long lost love and forlorn romance will no longer be made into movies. It doesn't seem like that time is coming any time soon though.
Just like the many Sparks stories that have come along over the years 'The Lucky One' fits in just about every romance novel cliché it can. When those clichés clash with the overbearing, stereotypical characters, the movie collapses under its own absurdity.
Logan (Zac Efron) is a Marine fighting in the Middle East (and if you really must know, yes I did chuckle at the beginning when Efron was holding a gun trying to act like an action hero). One day, Logan and his group are ambushed, few Marines make it out alive. The only reason Logan makes it home while most of his buddies died in the line of duty is because of a picture. Logan finds a picture lying on the ground and walks over to pick it up. The very place he had been standing is struck by a mortar shell. The picture is of a young, attractive girl. When Logan gets home and decides he doesn't fit in, he goes searching for the girl in the photograph.
Zac Efron exudes the very worst type of romantic charisma here. Similar to whenever Channing Tatum is given a lead role in a schmaltzy romantic movie. When quotes like, "You should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute, " roll off his tongue it's hard not to groan a little. Logan is a troubled Marine so director Scott Hicks tells him to act as stoic as he possibly can. This advice results in scenes where Efron stares blankly off into space. Yeah, he's deep, right? Who else would have a tattoo of the saying "All glory is fleeting," on his back? A well of deep insight Logan most certainly is not.
Contrary to what Hollywood casting directors might think, this is not Efron's forte. Yes he's an attractive young man who makes teens and lonely housewives collectively swoon, but they've got it all wrong. Like Tatum, I'm convinced Efron's true talent lies in comedic films. He was just fine in the surprisingly funny '17 Again,' and recently played a hilarious unwashed hippie in Josh Radnor's 'Liberal Arts.' His looks might convey romantic lead, but his talents certainly skew towards the funnier side of cinema.
With little research, because of a strategically placed lighthouse in the picture, Logan is able to easily find the girl he's been searching for. Only in romance movies no one acts like a normal person. So, instead of telling the girl, Beth (Taylor Schilling) why he's there he waits for her to interrupt him then he chickens out and takes a meaningless job at her pet sanctuary. Why it's so hard for him to say: "Hey I found your picture at war and I went to pick it up and then a bomb exploded right where I was standing. Your picture saved my life. Crazy, right?" I'll never know. Rational thought is thrown out the window when you're talking about a cheesy love story like this.
Soon Logan falls for Beth, but Beth has her own demons, chiefly an ex-husband who acts exactly how an ex-husband would act in a movie like this. He's a town sheriff with an anger problem. He storms in and out of Beth's life threatening to take their son away. He sneers, abuses her, and then does an about-face announcing he wishes they were still together. He's a giant douchebag. He even drives a perfect over-compensating sports car. Like everything in this movie, the screenplay lays it on real thick. Just in case you weren't sure that, yes, he's the bad guy.
'The Lucky One' then follows Logan and Beth around this idyllic rural house as Logan stares into space and Beth stares at Logan staring into space. It's all very enthralling if corny love stories are your thing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Warner Bros. release. It comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack complete with an UltraViolet Digital Copy. Both discs are packaged in a standard keepcase which also comes with a slipcover bearing the same artwork as the case. The code for the UV Digital Copy can be found inside. The movie is pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc.
Filmed on 35mm 'The Lucky One' is given a very sharp looking 1080p video presentation. Detail is crisp, shadows are nicely delineated, and Zac Efron's hero-stubble is well defined. Say what you will about the movie (which really stinks), but it looks good in high definition.
The movie opens on a wide shot of a slow-moving river in Louisiana as a small boat moves through the water. The water and surrounding foliage look every bit as good as anything that has been presented in the 'Planet Earth' series. I'm not just saying that either. The opening scene looks pretty spectacular. Even in this long-shot details are perfectly crisp. Hundreds of trees and their outlines are nicely defined. Sun glints off the water in the river. It's a great looking shot that sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
I thought this movie was full of pretty great visuals even though it did display that all-too-familiar slightly warmer color palette that is reserved for romantic movies. Close-ups feature a lot of detail. I already commented on Efron's stubble where individual hairs can be seen growing awkwardly on the underside of his chin. Darker scenes feature nice inky blacks and clearly defined shadows that never impede the visual understanding of the scene. Edges are always pleasantly defined. Colors, like the rich greenery surrounding the house, or the sun-drenched oranges and yellows of Louisiana at dusk look great. I didn't really see any anomalies that caused me to be distracted while viewing the movie. Aliasing and banding are nowhere to be seen. Some light shimmering can be seen on trees during long-shots and clothing with tightly packed patterns. Fans and videophiles alike will most likely be impressed.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is pretty standard for a film of this ilk. The beginning of the film, that features all the military action has some decent sounding sound effects. Staccato gunfire bursts from the front and center speakers. The mortar shell that almost kills Logan can be heard entering the left side of the frame and exploding in the middle with a nice LFE-powered oomph, even though it's purposefully been toned down a bit for dramatic effect.
After the opening scenes the sound mix settles into the same-old-same-old when talking about dramatic romantic movies. Lots of talking, a blatantly obvious swelling music score whenever something dramatic happens, and some ambient sound of chirping birds and barking dogs.
The beginning of the movie sounds a little more impressive than you might think a Nicholas Sparks' movie would sound. Voices sound natural and are delivered cleanly through the center speaker. I did think that whispers sounded a bit too soft compared to everything else. There were a few whispered lines that were hard to hear. It's a soundtrack that will get you through the movie without any major bumps, but it'll never really wow you.
I find it hard to believe that people really like these kind of manipulative tales of love. It's like 'Twilight ' without the vampires. It's just so silly. 'The Lucky One' lacks any true conviction. It lacks a humanistic side to the story it's telling. Instead it relies on broadly written stereotypes to drag its narrative across the finish line. The worst part is that it can't even fall back on the chemistry the two leads have together much like 'The Notebook' could with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. After that is no longer an option you find yourself focusing on the absurdity of the whole story, realizing that it isn't even fit for Lifetime movie of the week. The video looks good, the audio is slightly above average, and the special features are simply throwaway puff pieces. Do I really need to tell you to skip this one? You're the lucky one if you do.