The Longest Ride
Fox // PG-13 // $39.99 // July 14, 2015
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted July 26, 2015
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Longest Ride Blu-ray Review

The Longest Ride is the latest film based upon the work of acclaimed writer Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Safe Haven, The Best of Me). It is based on Sparks bestselling novel. With direction by George Tillman Jr. (Faster). Starring Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Oona Chaplin, and Alan Alda, The Longest Ride was produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Theresa Park, and Nicholas Sparks.

The story focuses on two couples journeys as they fall in love: one told in the present and one through flashbacks. The first couple of the story is that of Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood). Sophia is a college student trying to get into a prestigious art job: she is a massive lover of the arts and wants to pursue her dreams in the field. Luke is a cowboy bull rider, who is trying to make a big comeback after a injury.

Luke and Sophia start to see each other and become romantically intertwined. During the story, they meet a man named Ira (Alan Alda) who they help rescue from a car crash. Over the course of the time spent talking with their new friend Ira, Sophia learns of his romance with the love of his life Ruth (Oona Chaplin) and the journey they took together: through both the happy and sad moments.

Via flashbacks, Young Ira (Jack Huston) falls in love with Ruth, who is like Sophia in that she is also a big fan of art, and they become an inseparable couple for a long time. Over The Longest Ride, the story of the romance and journey of Ira and Ruth is told as the story of Sophia and Luke is also explored. Will Sophia find her dream art job? Will Luke be able to mount a big comeback or will he have to give up his bull riding dreams?

The performances in the film helped to carry the story in an exceptional way. This is a highly romantic film and the chemistry between the actors was really impressive. Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, Under the Dome) does a great job as the central lead and carries the film through the present-story with a lot of charm. Scott Eastwood (son of Clint Eastwood) is impressive in his role and really reminds one of his father. He has good screen presence.

Surprisingly, the supporting performances delivered by Oona Chaplin, Jack Huston and Alan Alda managed to be a huge part of the overall storyline and all three actors do a great job in expanding the story and telling this wonderful romance of Ira and Ruth. This is as much a significant part of the film as the story told for Sophia and Luke. I loved Alda, especially. Certainly, Alda always has a certain charm that carries well into the role.

Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Faster, Notorious), The Longest Ride is an impressively mounted production. The locations selected are beautiful and cinematic and the film is a wonderful achievement visually and on a storytelling level. Tillman Jr. brings forth good performances from all of the leads. The style of filmmaking is deeply emotional and quite exceptional at telling the two romantic storylines.

The story for the film was written by Nicholas Sparks as  it is based on his published book (which became a bestseller). Sparks is one of the great modern masters of romantic stories. Through his career he has crafted a number of smart and deeply moving romances and this achievement is another fine work based on his story.  Like The Notebook, The Longest Ride succeeds at telling a deeply emotional and richly romantic story of soul mates and their long journey. The screenplay by Craig Bolotin  (Straight Talk, Black Rain) is impressive and there certainly is good character development throughout the film. The romance works all the better because of it.

The music score is composed by Mark Isham (Once Upon a Time). Isham has crafted a quietly moving and effective score that perfectly complements the filmmaking. The score is also one which takes the audience on a journey established by Sparks and director George Tillman Jr. There is a great romantic side to the score and it is lush during some moments and sad during others.

The cinematography by David Tattersall (The Green Mile, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy) is an amazing accomplishment. This is a visually stunning effort. The visuals of the film impress throughout with great natural backdrops: the beautiful country roads and grassy environment.  Tattersall has given the film a elegant style of photography that is truly beautiful and befitting.

The costumes designed by Mary Claire Hannan (The Fault in Our Stars, Jackie Brown) feel so authentic and impressive in The Longest Ride. The cowboy attire seemed really well designed. The period piece clothing seemed really effectively done as well. It was a good blend of more modern clothing of the time and the type of outfits that were worn during the time-period that was focused on in flashbacks.

Overall, The Longest Ride is a very entertaining film. It has a great emotional core to it and it tells a wonderful romantic story with its focus on two different couples experiences. For fans who appreciate the work of storyteller Sparks, this is a no-brainer: a enjoyable, romantic, and impressively produced film.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

The Longest Ride arrives on Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded image. The high definition imagery is sleekly produced with great modern production aesthetics. This is an amazing looking film and a wonderful release with great color reproduction and clarity. This presentation will certainly please fans. The Longest Ride is beautiful to behold and has good encoding quality at around 25 mbps. It is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1.

Audio:

The release arrives on Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio presentation. As with many films in the genre, it is not the type of film to heavily rely on the surround-sound but dialogue is crisp, the music score sounds impressive, and the lossless boost will be appreciated by listeners.

English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1, and French 5.1 audio options are also provided. English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras:

This release comes with a HD UV Digital Copy code and a Slipcover.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (20 min.) showcases sequences cut from the final version of The Longest Ride.

Feature length audio commentary featuring director George Tillman Jr. and actress Oona Chaplin.

A selection of featurettes are included (all running at around 4 min. apiece):

A Writer's Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks takes a comedic look at what a day of writing might look like for the bestselling writer (with comedic spoofs of him visiting the set, calling the director, and taking phone surveys). It's basically a short comedic bit with one big element of advice from Sparks to aspiring writers: figure out a good writing schedule and then stick to writing.

Beyond the Ride is a brief making-of featuring short interview clips with some of the filmmakers and cast.

Bringing It To Life is a piece between Sparks and Alda, who go on a walk together and discuss the importance of the story to Sparks and the inspiration for Alda's character.

Meet the Real Bull Riders showcases some of the actual bull-riders who worked on the film.

Luke's Bull Riding School showcases training done for actor Scott Eastwood in order for him to play the part of bull-rider Luke.

Lastly, a Photo Gallery is provided.

Final Thoughts:

The Longest Ride is a sweetly romantic film which takes a long journey through the romance of characters Luke and Sophia and Ira and Ruth. Sparks has crafted another excellent story that is sentimental and affecting. The directing is impressively realized and the cinematography is so beautiful to behold. This is a must-see film for fans of the films of Nicholas Sparks.

The Blu-ray release features high quality PQ/AQ and has a small but worthwhile selection of extras.

Highly Recommended.



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