Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Longest Ride Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
As he does so well, Nicholas Sparks tells a two part story.  The first story is about a present day couple.  Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a bull rider who has suffered a terrible injury, thanks to a very angry bull.  Sophia (Britt Robertson) reluctantly attends Luke’s comeback.  She leaves with his cowboy hat and a budding crush on the steamy cowboy.  Sophia is about to finish college and has an internship lined up in New York.  Luke is focused on his career.  They lead very different lives and must admit that the timing is off.   

Story number two begins after Sophia and Luke have just finished their first date.  After a charming picnic they happen upon a car that’s run off the road.   Inside is an old man who is injured.  The couple pulls the man from his burning vehicle and he begs for someone to get the box inside.  The box contains love letters and the old man Ira (Alan Alda) can no longer see well enough to read them.  Although his nurse says he’s a grumpy old man, Sophia finds a connection and agrees to read his letters aloud.  Through these letters we travel back in time to learn about Ira and Ruth’s (Oona Chaplin) love story. 

Young Ira is played by an actor that does not look at all like a young Alan Alda.  The plot twists and turns until it matches up in a perfect connection between Ruth the art lover and Sophia the art student.  The characters suffer great heartache and tragedy.  The love stories are complicated and will also quickly bring tears to the sensitive viewer’s eyes.  I’m sure this is something other reviewers will complain about, but it is exactly what should be expected with all projects attached to Nicholas Sparks.  

Instead of calling this “The best Nicholas Sparks movie since The Notebook” they should probably say “A Nicholas Sparks movie that will make you cry more than the last one.”   The amount of tissues required for each Nicholas Sparks movie increases exponentially.  These are the definitions of chick flicks and you shouldn’t enter into them without a group of girls, bottle(s) of wine, and the knowledge that tears will follow. I found Scott Eastwood to be cute and charming.  I like Britt Robertson and Alan Alda was a great choice for the old man. If you’ve loved the other Nicholas Sparks books/movies then this is probably for you.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Longest Ride is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio.   The film offer excellent clarity with many noticeable fine details.  The rodeo offers dust that will make you want to cough and you’ll notice spit fly from the mouth of the angriest bull and sweat drop from Luke’s forehead.  This is a fine presentation from Fox.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Longest Ride's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is a proper compliment to the video presentation.  You’ll hear the depth of the crowds at the rodeo and will feel the bulls stomp like they are in your living room.  Dialogue is even and consistent throughout the film and the score is well balanced.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars) 
The Blu ray contains the following special features:
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:13) with optional commentary by George Tillman, Jr. and Oona Chaplin.
  • A Writer's Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks (4:44) a very brief snippet with the king of the chick flick.
  • Beyond the Ride (4:14) a featurette with cast and crew interviews.
  • Bringing it to Life (4:33) a discussion between Nicholas Sparks and Alan Alda.
  • Meet the Real Bull Riders (6:08) a look at some real cowboys.
  • Luke's Bull Riding School (4:59) a featurette about how Scott Eastwood trained for the role.
  • Audio Commentary by George Tillman, Jr. and Oona Chaplin – A superficial yet enjoying commentary.
  • Gallery (2:10) a still gallery with auto advance or manual shuffle.
  • Theatrical Trailer
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Longest Ride offers exactly what you’d expect from Nicholas Sparks. Young lovers, tragedy and someone looking back at old love.  Either the formula works for you and you want more or this type of chick flick isn’t for you.  I don’t expect surprises with these.  There is good acting throughout and this is just as good as the other tearjerkers like Safe Haven, Dear John, The Lucky One and The Best of Me.  I still keep The Notebook in its own category but this definitely follows The Notebook.  It’s geared towards women and I recommend all chick flick lovers give it a try.     

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