By now everyone has to be fully aware of Nicholas Sparks. He is the author of the best-selling books The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and the recent Dear John. All of those books went on to become big-hit movies (The Notebook especially) in the last decade. But if you have read or watched any or all of these works, you will probably start to feel deja vu. Sparks has created a formula that works and makes lots of money as a result. So when his latest book, The Last Song, was specifically written so that Miley Cyrus could star in the film adaptation you pretty much knew what you were in for.
In The Last Song, Ronnie (Cyrus) is a troubled teen that is sent to live with her estranged father Steve (Greg Kinnear) for the summer. She isn’t pleased with the situation, since she is resentful about the way her father destroyed their family. As a result, Ronnie has lost interest in life and her extraordinary musical gifts. Her kid brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) also is sent to live with their dad for the summer, and he couldn’t be happier. When Ronnie meets Will (Liam Hemsworth), her whole life changes. She allows him access to her heart, and a summer romance begins, despite hateful gossip and disapproving parents. But summer will end soon enough, so what will become of Ronnie and Will, especially after a tragic event changes Ronnie forever?
If you are a Nicholas Sparks’ fan, you have to know that a major character is either going to die or someone close to them is going to die. The Last Song doesn’t stray from the formula. It might surprise some people on who might die, but if you pay attention to the most important part of the storyline, it won’t shock you at all. Besides that, the script is filled with cliches that know how to push all the right buttons at the right time. However, there is one positive this film has going for it and it’s the same positive from previous Sparks’ books turned into films. All of his books take place on an East Coast beach somewhere, and those beach locations are filmed beautifully for The Last Song.
The big question here is whether or not Miley Cyrus is good dramatic actress or not? Miley is a very polarizing figure, but if you can separate her image from the character she plays on Hannah Montana, you can’t argue with the fact that Miley is a great over-the-top comedic actress. Unfortunately, her acting job in this film is the same over-the-top stuff we would find on Hannah Montana. Except this time she is taking the brooding dramatic rebel teen to the extreme degree, instead of usual Hannah Montana slapstick comedy hijinks. That doesn’t mean that Cyrus ruins this movie. Hardcore Miley Cyrus haters will likely be surprised to find out that she isn’t that bad. She does have good on-screen chemistry with newcomer Liam Hemsworth, which might have been helped by the fact that they had off-screen chemistry as well.
When you hear the name Nicholas Sparks, you know what you are going to get. The Last Song doesn’t do anything to surprise anyone who has seen or read all of Sparks’ books. Miley Cyrus doesn’t stray too far away from what we know of her acting skills to date, but she is decent enough for this predictable and average script. She certainly doesn’t make this film unwatchable. That being said, Sparks’ fans and Cyrus fans alike will likely enjoy this film immensely. But even some hardcore objective Sparks’ fans would have to admit that The Last Song is nowhere near his best.
The video on the Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p/AVC/MPEG-4 at the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. This transfer is great. All of the images and colors look bright and vibrant. No major video inconsistencies.
The audio included on the Blu-ray disc is available in either English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well.
Blu-ray Disc Exclusives
Alternate Opening -
This runs 3 minutes and it’s a different opening scene than what is in the final film. Basically, the church is more on fire in this version. There is an option to hear the director, Julie Anne Robinson, talk about why it was cut from the film. It’s really darker than the rest of the film.
Deleted Scenes -
There are 5 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film and they total 7 minutes. Robinson provides commentary for each scene. All were cut for time reasons, and none are worth checking out.
Features also found on the standard DVD release
Audio Commentary -
This is a full-length commentary with the director, Julie Anne Robinson, and co-producer, Jennifer Gibgot. They do give a lot of background information on the film, but they are not the most entertaining people to listen to. So this is not worth listening to unless you a super fan of the movie.
“Set Tour with Bobby Coleman” Featurette -
This runs 5 minutes and it has the actor who plays Miley’s younger brother in the movie as the host of a set tour, of course. He basically goes around the set and interviews crew members about their work on the film. This is fairly entertaining.
“When I Look at You” Music Video -
This is the full 4 minute video of the main theme song to this film. It’s performed by Miley Cyrus, of course. We see her play the piano along with various shots from the film.
“Making of the Music Video ‘When I Look at You’ with Miley Cyrus” Featurette -
This runs 4 minutes and it’s all about making the music video for this song. Producer, Adam Shankman, Miley Cyrus, co-star Liam Hemsworth, and production designer Nelson Coates each talk about the music video and filming it.
Greg Kinnear Set Prank -
This is a 20-second clip of a Greg Kinnear set prank that accessible from the bonus features menu as well.
Miley Cyrus and Nicholas Sparks fans will probably enjoy it and might even consider buying this set since it is LOADED with extras they will enjoy as well. But all other should probably pass. It’s a bad movie, but you know what you are going to get before you watch it.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents The Last Song. Directed by Julie Anne Robinson. Written by Nicholas Sparks (novel & screenplay); Jeff Van Wie (screenplay). Starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Liam Hemsworth, Bobby Coleman, Kelly Preston, Carly Chaikin, Nick Lashaway, Hallock Beals, Kate Vernon, Nick Searcy, Melissa Ordway, Adam Barnett, Michael Jamorski, and Carrie Malabre. Running time: 107 minutes. Rated PG. Released on Blu-ray: August 17, 2010.