While I was never a big fan of "Hannah Montana" (largely because I'm certainly not in the target audience), I thought the series was sweet, mildly enjoyable wish fufillment for the target audience. What I found particularly surprising was "Hannah Montana: The Movie" - while not an Oscar winner, the movie was charming and surprisingly low-key (in an enjoyable way), and Cyrus actually offered a more subtle performance versus the more animated, high-energy effort in the series.
"The Last Song" isn't a whole lot different than the movie version of "Montana", with Cyrus offering a performance that takes a few gentle steps further beyond what she offered in "Montana". The "Montana" audience is getting older, and Cyrus has tried to offer fare has grown and matured a bit as the audience has. "The Last Song" isn't without flaws, either, but in terms of the target audience getting older, one really can't argue that this isn't the perfect choice for Cyrus.
The Nicholas Sparks-scripted picture stars Cyrus as Ronnie, a teenager who - along with her little brother - is taken by her mother (Kelly Preston) to spend the Summer with her father (Greg Kinnear), who she resents. Of course, the arc of the film is rather predictable - she's upset at first, but gradually reconnects with her father. However, what's nice is that, despite the fact that the material could have easily gone quite melodramatic, Cyrus and Kinnear offer pleasant performances.
There's other drama, as well, as Ronnie falls for a local named Will (Liam Helmsworth) and debates going to Julliard after being given a scholarship. It's a little difficult to feel all that sympathetic for Ronnie - while the situation with her parents is unfortunate, she's getting a scholarship to Julliard and gets to hang out in the stunning scenery around her father's house. It's a Nicholas Sparks film though, and it feels like one: while the actors and director handle the material reasonably well, Nicholas Sparks movies are starting to feel a little too much like Nicholas Sparks movies - the elements have become to feel familiar.
All that said, "The Last Song" is fine; Cyrus and especially Kinnear offer fine performances and the potentially melodramatic material from Sparks is toned down nicely. The picture isn't flawless, but is an understandable next step for Cyrus and will most likely play well to her target audience.
This set offers both a DVD and Blu-Ray edition of the film.
VIDEO: "The Last Song" is presented by Buena Vista in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). The transfer is not going to be considered reference quality, but it's a consistently pleasing effort that appears to offer an accurate presentation of the film's slightly soft "romantic" look. While a bit of light edge enhancement was spotted in a few scenes, the presentation otherwise appeared clean and smooth. Colors looked natural and pure, with very nice saturation and no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones looked natural and spot-on, as well.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack was as expected, with light ambience coming from the rear speakers, and audio quality remaining quite enjoyable, with crisp detail and warm, rich music. Dialogue also remained clear and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: "The Last Song" offers a nice set of bonus features, including a nice audio commentary from director Julie Anne Robinson and co-producer Jennifer Gibgot. The two offer a light, enjoyable chat about the production of the film, discussing working with the actors, filming on-location and other aspects. There are a few gaps of silence here-and-there, but this is otherwise a consistently fine track.
We also get an alternate opening, deleted scenes, a music video ("When I Look At You", by Cyrus), a "making of" for the video and set tour, as well as promos for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "The Last Song" is fine; Cyrus and especially Kinnear offer fine performances and the potentially melodramatic material from Sparks is toned down nicely. The picture isn't flawless, but is an understandable next step for Cyrus and will most likely play well to her target audience. The Blu-Ray offers pleasant audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of supplements. Recommended for fans.
The Film B