Safe Haven

Nicholas Sparks Evil

Nicholas Sparks is really good at killing people. No one is safe in his books and the movies made from them. In fact, if you’ve gotten close to any of the characters, it’s a fair chance that they will develop a terminal illness, reveal that they’ve been hiding a terminal illness or be struck with a terminal disease called drowning. Sparks is an angry god, and he shuffles off mortal coils aplenty in order to pretend that he writes Greek tragedy and tug despotically at heartstrings. The murdering mastermind has struck again with Safe Haven, capitalizing on the fact that people love crying violently at movies on Valentine’s Day, and like many have done before with Freddy, Jason and Leatherface, it seems only appropriate that we tally up all the bodies lying at Sparks’ feet. Maybe someone can even make a memorial video set to Sarah McLachlan or something. As expected, Spoilers for all Sparks movies abound.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

This might have been a difficult week for you to keep up with news and necessary stories. Between Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day celebrating, you could have been busy with king cakes and candies, revelry and romance. Also, it had to be difficult to navigate through all the posts and lists related to these holidays, which include our own look at cynical Valentine’s Day films and a Commentary Commentary column devoted to (500) Days of Summer and post-Valentine’s romance tips from Sasha Grey. Of course, now you’re probably too busy this weekend with your free Criterion Collection marathon viewing to review the week in movie discussions, but that’s okay because this Reject Recap post doesn’t self-destruct after today. It’s here for your convenience whenever you’ve got the time. But at some point, check out the biggest and best stories and original content from the past week, from FSR and our friends around the web:

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I walked into Safe Haven last night prepared to turn my nose up at the overly romantic Nicholas Sparks-isms and to expect a lot of people to fall victim to cancer. I had seen a few of the other movies based on Sparks’ books, so I had an idea of what was about to befall me. Once the movie started, however, I was a little ashamed of myself, because I really started to enjoy it. I giggled like a schoolgirl when hottie supreme Josh Duhamel wooed Julianne Hough. I even caught myself smiling alone in the dark as Duhamel’s character proved himself to be the greatest single father time and time again to his two adorable children. I shouldn’t be ashamed of myself, right? Director Lasse Hallström once directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! This Safe Haven love fest did soon give way to my initial expectations. About halfway through there’s an incredibly stupid “twist,” and the film culminates with another “twist” so insane that it out-insanes every other Sparks joint I’ve seen. I involuntarily blurted out “Jesus Christ!” quite loudly in the theater as it went down. The romantic plot is very well executed and the two leads have chemistry to burn – Hallström helps create some very palpable connections between the characters. It’s just everything else that is pretty… god-awful.

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There is no better phrase to describe Nicholas Sparks‘s writing than “safe haven.” He’s found a structure that requires only that he shove in new character names and weaknesses, come up with some horrific tragedy to slam on the brakes near the end, and collect the checks. Strangely enough, director Lasse Hallström may have found his pattern as well, as Deadline Daytona is reporting that the veteran might sign on to direct the next appropriately titled Sparks adaptations. Safe Haven is the story of a young lady who doesn’t want to make friends, but then makes friends while stuffing her terrible secret deep, deep down. I haven’t read the book, but it’s shoe money that the secret comes out. And that a character we’ve grown to care about is diagnosed with Instant Death Disease with only 5 minutes left in the movie. Hallström broken his Sparks cherry with Dear John, and with his work on Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, it seems like he might be switching between curious storytelling and cookie-cutter, made-for-money Sparksian non-challenges. On the other hand, he’s no stranger to romances (like Chocolat), and it’ll be worthwhile if he can find a romantic sponsor for his other films. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of him making those other films (he’s signed on for a Danish crime drama called The Hypnotist for 2012 release), then what harm could it do?

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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