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The Last Song(2010)
Ronnie is a troubled and rebellious New York teenager who is sent to spend the summer with her estranged father, a former concert pianist, in the quiet coastal town where he has lived since divorcing Ronnie's mother. As the summer wears on, Ronnie reconnects with her father through their mutual love of music, and also falls in love for the first time with the handsome Will Blakelee.
For more about The Last Song and the The Last Song Blu-ray release, see the The Last Song Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 5, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston
Director: Julie Anne Robinson
» See full cast & crew
The Last Song Blu-ray Review
Chances are you already know whether you'll love or hate this one...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 5, 2010
You know that feeling that sweeps over you when something awful is about to happen? That icy, bristling premonition that stirs deep within your brain just before a child falls, an animal pounces, or an oncoming car drifts across the median? I was hit with the same dread as The Last Song slid into my Blu-ray player. I'm not sure what it was exactly. Perhaps seeing the names Miley Cyrus and Nicholas Sparks on one cover. Or maybe it was the syrupy gaze of two oversized lovers, the sun setting in Liam Hemsworth's chest, the tranquil Sparksian beach and its sun-kissed clouds, or the mere mention of Dear John and The Notebook in the same blurb. Whatever it was, I could feel my mind siezing and my body bracing for impact. The feeling grew stronger as the film lurched out of the gate, pop ballad in hand, and intensified as Cyrus' rebel-with-a-contrived-cause grumbled into view. I found myself muttering, "don't let me down Kinnear, don't let me down." Well, Greg Kinnear didn't let me down, dear readers. But the rest of The Last Song? Sadly, it's every bit the gruesome cinematic pileup my instincts warned me it would be.
Penned by tear-jerk author Nicholas Sparks himself (based on his concurrently written 2009 novel of the same name), The Last Song introduces us to Veronica "Ronnie" Miller (Miley Cyrus), a young piano prodigy reluctantly whisked away to Georgia with her mother (Kelly Preston) in the wake of her parents' divorce. Ronnie soon devolves into a rebellious, angst-ridden teen-of-the-week; a seventeen-year-old nightmare who refuses to speak to her father, Steve (Greg Kinnear), or lay a finger on a piano key. Fast forward three years when dear ol' mom decides to send Ronnie and her younger brother, Jonah (Bobby Coleman), to spend the summer with their father. Things don't go well, of course, and the hostile teen does everything in her power to make Steve miserable. Enter a trifecta of heart-softening enemas: a sudden desire to protect sea turtles, a like-minded, ab-flexing love interest named Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth), and the revelation that her father is dying of cancer. (Cue emotional whiplash.) Before you can say "sorry daddy, I guess I need a piano," Ronnie tries her hand at selflessness, romance, and reconciliation.
The Last Song is a bit of mess all around. Cyrus has certainly developed as an actress, but she still has a ways to go. She feigns rage and rebellion rather than exuding each one; slips on a mask rather than finding genuine sadness within herself; pantomimes grief instead of rooting out the reality buried in the recesses of Sparks' mind-numbing conventionality. Hemsworth, a recent graduate of the Channing Tatum School of Smoldering Sentimentality, lurches in response to her disjointed performance, dutifully following her lead but drowning in the subsequent tide of heart strings and breakdowns that arise. Coleman, God bless em, does his best with the thankless role of precocious tot, but hopefully shared an Orange Julius with The Blind Side's Jae Head after the shoot to figure out how to avoid artificially cathartic, feel-good drivel in the future. Even Kinnear, quietly lending gravitas and careful restraint to a film devoid of both, has difficulty wading through Sparks' forced dialogue and manipulative screenplay. Kinnear struggles to underplay each scene, to find truth in the film's rampant sentiment, and inadvertently reveals how cliche and paper-thin the Millers' turmoil actually is. All of which begs the question: are the actors to blame? Or should criticism be leveled at Sparks and co-writer Jeff Van Wie, who provided next to nothing for the actors to work with? Or perhaps first-time feature film director Julie Anne Robinson, who seems all-too-willing to cling to their every page without refining the shallow scope of their story?
Strip away the star power and the author's name though, and what remains? A nasty gateway drug designed to hook a new generation of genre junkies; a predictable, fundamentally flawed tear-jerker that actively injects dollar-store symbolism whenever and wherever it can, oftentimes with little rhyme or reason other than to drag viewers from one emotional valley to the next. And therein lies my gripe with Sparks and his ilk, and really every film that tries to bring an audience to its knees without giving them good reason to be there. Story and character are paramount, and The Last Song treats both as if they were a necessary evil; ironically, one that undermines the very story and characters Sparks and Van Wie have invested their all into creating. It's this shamelessness -- or, at best, a desire to give genre devotees their next tear-stained high -- that separates bland, puppet-string theatre like The Last Song from those rare, believable, heartfelt romances that tend to crop up on the Indie circuit. Sparks, Van Wie and Robinson are dealing with divorce, heartache, disease, loneliness, isolation and deep, deep wounds, all from the perspective of a vulnerable seventeen-year-old girl. Seeds of a great film, truth be told. But seeds that have been mishandled, mismanaged and misplanted; carelessly scattered in the rocks when rich soil is what each one needs. Will some enjoy The Last Song? I'm sure they will, and I'm glad someone out there will at least get their fill. Me? I'd rather scour the direct-to-video bin than sit through yet another rehashed Hollywood genre outing.
The Last Song Blu-ray, Video Quality
A bit too soft to be called crisp, a bit too sharp to be labeled soft, Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer exists in that high definition limbo that leaves many a viewer ambivalent. Still, from a technical standpoint, there's little to complain about. John Lindley's wind-swept colors, though often washed away by the sun and sea, are lifelike and consistent, and black levels, though overwhelming at times and underwhelming at others, are satisfying on the whole. Delineation leaves something to be desired, as does detail, but I doubt it traces back to the quality of the transfer (after all, artifacting, banding, smearing and unintended noise are nowhere to be found). Fine textures are apparent throughout, impressive even when it comes to some closeups (particularly Kinnear's), and object definition is sturdy and clean. Only the appearance of some slight ringing spoils the experience. Make no mistake, The Last Song has been granted a seemingly faithful presentation; one that should please the film's target audience and force detractors to heap most of their criticism on the film itself.
The Last Song Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While The Last Song's sound design is heavy-handed, Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track delivers the goods, putting its full support behind every outburst, rolling wave and song the film unleashes. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, and ambience is convincing. Likewise, the rear speakers are restrained but engaging, gently pulling serene seascapes, crowded carnivals and homegrown music studios around the listener to great effect. Interior acoustics are equally believable, and dynamics are bold and brassy. Yes, the LFE channel is reserved for the most part, but I wouldn't expect anything less considering the film's tone and genre. When called upon though, it certainly makes its presence known. If anything, Robinson's soundtrack selections tend to rush the soundscape, overpowering everything that comes before and after them. However, it always struck me as an issue of normalization, not prioritization. All in all, it's a fine lossless track that isn't hindered by any distracting mishaps.
The Last Song Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Last Song strolls onto Blu-ray with an uninspired selection of special features, most of which will even fail to captivate the film's target audience. Charming British director Julie Anne Robinson and co-producer Jennifer Gibgot provide a breezy, anecdotal "Audio Commentary" that will appeal to fans of the film, but leave casual listeners yawning by the twenty-minute mark. From there, an "Alternate Opening" (HD, 3 minutes) proves to be more compelling and far classier than the scene that made it to theaters; a collection of five melodramatic "Deleted Scenes" (HD, 7 minutes) fizzles; a "Set Tour with Bobby Coleman" (HD, 5 minutes) offers exactly what you'd expect from a scattershot set tour hosted by an excitable kid; Miley Cyrus' "When I Look at You" music video (HD, 4 minutes) is included, as is a decent "Making of the Music Video" short (HD, 4 minute); and a hidden outtake (HD, 1 minute) can be found at the bottom of the bonus features menu.
The Last Song Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It has to be tough living in so many shadows -- stardom, a ridiculously famous alter ego, a celebrity dad, and throngs of adoring fans, to name a few -- but Miley Cyrus continues to press on, building a staggering empire on her seventeen-year-old shoulders. Given the right script, the right co-stars, the right film, she could potentially make ripples in Hollywood. But The Last Song is not that film. Sappy, manipulative, and bubbling over with tacky sentiment, it's everything I expected it to be and less. Regardless, those who decide to take the plunge via Disney's Blu-ray release will at least get their money's worth. It offers a solid video transfer, a strong DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a semi-decent supplemental package. At the very least, enough to justify the cost of a rental.
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The Last Song Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - August 17-23 - August 17, 2010
Ah, the slow weeks. A chance to give your wallet a much deserved reprieve from the weekly onslaught of Blu-ray purchases that feed your everlasting urge for high definition wonderment. A time to sit back and realize that those 16 sealed Blu-ray movie simply aren't ...
• Disney Offering $10 Coupon for The Last Song Blu-ray - August 16, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has a printable $10 off coupon good for the purchase of the The Last Song Blu-ray during its first week in stores. To print it, go to the dedicated coupon website and click on the appropriate tab on the right-hand side of ...
• The Last Song Blu-ray Announced - May 31, 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced The Last Song for release on a Blu-ray/DVD combo edition on August 17. The Last Song is a coming-of-age love story, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks and starring Miley Cyrus in a departure from her famous ...
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