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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Best of Me (Blu-ray)
The Best of Me (Blu-ray)
Fox // PG-13 // February 3, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kyle Mills | posted February 14, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Content:
Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, who is probably best known for the blockbuster love story, The Notebook, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, and two former high school sweethearts who were ripped from one another after an unfortunate twist of fate. The two must confront one another when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend, and find themselves reunited after 21 years apart. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they've never forgotten, but soon discover the forces that drove them apart twenty one years ago still live on.

The story starts out in present day on an oil rig where we meet Dawson (James Marsden), a middle aged man who doesn't seem to happy with his place in life. While reading a book on the job one day, a freak accident occurs where an oil drum explodes, blowing him into the sea, where he has a luminous vision of a beautiful young woman walking in a rose garden. He wakes up feeling fate has given him a second chance to right the wrongs of his past, only to quickly find out a dear friend and mentor of his, Tuck (Gerald McRaney) has passed away. Cut to a sizeable mansion and we meet depressed and miserably married house wife Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), whose husband won't give her the time of day, Amanda also gets the phone call regarding Tuck's passing. Both Dawson and Amanda return to the small town they grew up in to lay him to rest. As per Tuck's final request, Dawson and Amanda are named the joint executor of his cabin estate, where their love first blossomed.

Spliced throughout the film are flashback sequences that depict a younger Dawson and Amanda, played here by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato (who couldn't look further from their actor counterparts), respectively. It's here that we're given the meat of the story, we find out exactly what happened between these two, these two who are "destined" to be together forever, that lead to them being ripped apart from one another and not seeing each other for over 2 decades. Meanwhile back in the present, Dawson and Amanda's love for one another has reignited and they plan to spend the rest of their life with one another, but the same problems they had when they were teenagers still plague them, most notably that of Dawson's deadbeat father, who seems to have a vendetta against his son. Dawson and Amanda must go against the odds if there love is fated to survive.

The performances in the film are for the most part all decent across the board, their chemistry in the love scenes are another story... Now I typically love both Marsden and Monaghan as they're both excellent actors, but for some reason they just couldn't click here. They had spots here and there where chemistry shined through, but the script would revert back to having Dawson just stare awkwardly at Amanda and everything would be lost. for the most part it just wasn't there. are the easy standouts for me, as their chemistry, while not that good, stands above the rest. I'd say Liana Liberato gave the most heartfelt performance of the group, which is surprising because she's the only actor from the whole lot to whom I wasn't familiar with prior to seeing this For those who have read my review of The November Man, Once again, my one annoyance with the film is Luke Bracey. Is there something about this guy that everyone else sees that I'm missing entirely? He was stoic in The November Man which was made even more apparent by having to hold his own against charisma personified, Pierce Brosnan, and now here, he's called on to play a star crossed lover, which again, he's kind of stoic. On top of that, he looks nothing at all like James Marsden. By no means is he an outright terrible actor, he's ok, but he's not leading man material.

Going into this film, you should know exactly what you're getting because in all sincerity, if you've seen one Nicholas Sparks adapted film, then you've seen them all. It's a sappy, lovey-dovey star crossed romance with clichéd writing and a sad, yet hopeful ending. Studios have been trying for years to recapture the magic of The Notebook, but The Best of Me isn't it. This review can pretty much summed up into one sentence. Did you like Nicholas Sparks other adaptions? If you answered "yes" to this, then it's for you, If not, avoid it.

- Positives:

+ The structure of the story.

+ The cast give good performances unfortunately they just lack romantic chemistry with one another.

+ Aesthetically from a production standpoint, the film is gorgeous.

- Negatives:

- No definitive ending.

- Cliché and predictable throughout.

- These films hinge on the chemistry between the core cast and it lacked here. - Luke Bracey looks absolutely NOTHING like James Marsden, to the point that it's comically distracting.

Video and Audio:
The film's aspect ratio of 2.40:1 is delivered in a 1080p transfer that looks absolutely stunning. There are no signs of any type of artifacting or grain. The color palette used in the film is luxurious and vivid, especially in the scenes with Dawson and Amanda at the cabin, where the varied palette is on full display.

The Best of Me utilizes a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix where no signs of any kind of dropouts or distortions were apparent. The scoring is done well where the mix amplifies at the opportune moments, but never drowns out what's taking place on screen, along the same lines as the tender, quieter moments of the film as well.

Extras: - The "Tears of Joy" Edition - Not much is different here outside of the final 7-8 minutes or so, Though it's a radically different ending that should keep the sappy fans happy. This version of the film is actually about 3 minutes shorter than the theatrical version.

- Nicholas Sparks interviews with James Marsden, Michelle Monoghan, Luke Bracey, and Liana Liberato.

- Commentary with director Michael Hoffman.

- Lady Antebellum - "I Did" - music video.

- Deleted Scenes.

- "Along for the Ride.

- Trailers.

- Digital download.

Overall:
I probably liked The Best of Me a lot more than I should have. Most places I read about this film pan it for being cheesy and sappy, and it is, but I knew that going in and rolled with it, so I was able to enjoy it a bit more. I was quickly invested into these characters and finding out exactly what happened between Dawson and Amanda that lead to their 20 some odd year rift, though in the end, it's fairly predictable. The performances were all decent across the board, the only real problems I had with the film were the actors not resembling one another one iota and one of Dawson's big storylines, his father, was left unresolved by film's end, and I think that'd hurt its replay value. Because of that, I'd say Rent It.

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