"Avatar". You've probably heard of it - it was that movie that James Cameron directed and that cost $300M. The most eagerly anticipated movie of the last few years. Yet, the movie to unseat it from the top spot is the one few probably expected: "Dear John", an adaptation of another Nicholas Sparks novel ("Walk to Remember", "The Notebook") - not the '80's TV show.
The picture stars Channing Tatum as the title character, a Special Forces officer on leave for a couple of weeks and in the right place at the right time when Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) drops her purse in the water. The two "meet cute" and while she has a guy trying to impress her, she's clearly more interested in John.
The first part of the movie follows the two as they quickly fall for each other over the course of the two week period, and it helps that the two actors have nice chemistry. It helps, because while Sparks is massively successful (so what do I know?), the dialogue has moments of serious romantic cheese. In the movie's favor, at least director Lasse Hallstrom doesn't go overboard in terms of being manipulative, as Deborah Lurie's score isn't too heavy-handed (for example.)
As is expected, the two are unfortunately separated when John heads off to Iraq. Thus sets off a series of letters (read in voiceover) and moments of heartbreak. While well-meaning, there isn't a great deal of plot in the movie, and a few stretches truly do feel like filler. However, if the movie were boiled down to the essentials, it would probably be under 90 minutes.
It's remarkable that - a few years after "Mean Girls", where Lindsay Lohan was a huge star and Seyfried was the goofy sidekick - that Seyfried is now the focus. It's understandable, too: the actress is genuine and charming. While this movie certainly doesn't give the actress much chance to show off her comedic side, she's believable in the emotional moments.
As someone who's clearly not in the target audience for these sorts of romantic dramas, I will say that, despite its faults, I at least found "Dear John" tolerable and enjoyed the performances, as the lead duo have very nice chemistry in their scenes with one another. At the end of the day, it's a chick flick that guys likely won't hate.
VIDEO: "Dear John" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). The film's naturalistic, somewhat low-key visual style is presented quite well on this Blu-Ray release, as sharpness and detail were generally very good, save for a few moments of mild softness (which, given the movie, may have been intentional.) While not demo-level in quality, the picture did sport good depth and fine detail during most scenes.
The picture did encounter some minor concerns, including a couple of slight moments of edge enhancement and some artifacting during a few sequences. On a positive note, the print appeared pristine and the flaws spotted didn't cause much distraction. Colors tended to look muted, especially in the Boston scenes. Flesh tones looked accurate, and black level remained solid.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The majority of the film is dialogue-driven and, as a result, surrounds are not put to work very often and the audio is spread across the front speakers. Surrounds do kick in more often during the scenes in Iraq, but are still not used all that aggressively. Audio quality is fine, with clear, well-recorded dialogue, a full-sounding score and a couple of moments of reasonable bass kick.
EXTRAS: No commentary, but we do get "A Conversation With Lasse, Amanda and Channing" featurette, a featurette on the film's military advisors, "Transforming Charleston" featurette, outtakes, an alternate ending (which is similar, but takes the ending in a very different direction), "Mr. Tyree, The Mule and Benny Dietz, "The Story of Braden Reed" featurette and trailers for other titles from the studio such as "Salt" and "The Bounty Hunter". BD-Live enabled, as well.
Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, "Dear John" is a chick flick that guys likely won't hate. The Blu-Ray edition boasts pleasing audio/video quality, as well as a handful of minor supplements. The Blu-Ray boasts nice audio/video quality, as well as a handful of extras.
The Film B-