HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Choice
HTS Overall Score:69
Nicholas Sparks has to be the most one note author I’ve read of in quite some time. Besides “The Notebook”, all of his films have pretty much been the same movie with another title. A boy and a girl fall in love, against all the odds only to find some obstacle or tragedy befall them due to fate and they have to overcome it before living happily ever after. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s because this same formula is reused in every stinking novel and movie adaptation that he’s done to date. You could watch “A Walk To Remember”, “Nights of Rodanthe”, “Dear John”, “The Lucky One” (which I actually kind of liked) and you start to realize that they’re the SAME movie! All you do is change the locations, the names of the people and the different tragedy that will inevitably fall upon them and voila, the next Nicholas Sparks experience! Your significant other in the female department may get a kick out this newest Sparksian experience, but if you’re the average male and have been disappointed with the rest of his overly sappy films, then you pretty much already know what type of movie “The Choice” is.
It’s time to tune in to that same bat channel at that same bat time (yes, that was an old fashioned “Batman” The TV series reference) and guess who we have here in front of us? Meet contestant #1, Travis (Benjamin Walker, this time not cutting off Vampire’s heads and heading up the civil war as the good old honest Abe), a gorgeously hunky young southern boy who has that kind of charm that just makes women swoon at the sound of his voice. He’s young, handsome, can get any girl he wants and is of course completely unemotional about the whole thing. He’s got the girls in the palm of his hand. That is until he meets his new next door neighbor, Gabby (Teresa Palmer), a spitfire med student who can see right through all of Travis’s malarkey. Ticked off at his foolhardy and carefree ways, Gabby has no intention of falling for the handsome boy, even though we all know that’s a foregone conclusion from the blushing and incoherent babbling that comes out of her mouth every time the two of them are together.
Even though Gabby is dating a Dr. named Ryan at her hospital (played by “Smallville”’s Tom Welling), Gabby is inexorably drawn to Travis and a torrid month long romance happens when Ryan is out of town starting up a new hospital across state lines (sounds like a wonderful girl). Things get a bit warm between the two of them, and one thing leads to another and soon enough Travis is head over heels for the first time in his life. Ryan returns which leads to Gabby having to make a choice. Which boy does she want? At first it seems like she’s giving Travis the old heave ho, but in a fit of stereotypical storytelling, she breaks up with Ryan as well and returns to her rich parents. Galloping across the land on his white stallion (pickup truck), Travis returns to take his love’s hand, no matter how much she says no.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69817[/img]Basically pushed out the door by her parents as they see just how much she’s in love with Travis, the two get married and start building a life together. They have two kids, a girl and a boy (classic), and the happy couple are about as snug as two bugs in a run (say that 3 times fast). HOWEVER, if you’ve seen a Nicholas Sparks movie you’re already tensely waiting for that other shoe to drop. The famous tragedy that MUST befall our star struck lovers before they can live happily ever after. That tragedy comes in the form of an auto accident which leaves Gabby in a coma for months, unable to breathe without being on a permanent respirator. Now, while Gabby had to make a choice, so does Travis. This time it’s not nearly so happy. Travis has to make the choice between letting her stay on that respirator forever, or finally accepting defeat and pulling the plug as with his bride’s wishes.
The final act of the movie undeniably touching. If you are left tearless by the end of the film I dare say you don’t have a soul. However the horrifyingly syrupy sweet layer of southern romance that is Nicholas Sparks just oozes from every pore to the point that nausea may ensue long before the tears start. The plot has already been predetermined before the movie every began, and director Ross Katz delivers the already known plot with your typical layering’s of over acting and insipid romantic notions that make you wince in pain. While most Sparksian movies are pretty stomach turning with its simplicity, “The Choice” is almost crammed with ALL of the Sparksian tropes at once. We have the guy and girl meeting, but girl is already IN a relationship. Then the romance, then the cuteness, then the marriage and then we have to fast forward to a tragedy that takes up about 35 minutes of the movie.
The actors try their best. In fact I really like Benjamin Walker. He has that sort of southern charm that made him so likeable in “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”. Maggie Grace makes honorable mention as his sister Steph, and veteran Tom Wilkinson does a good job with his limited role as their father. Teresa Palmer is ok, but she’s not given a whole lot to work with and ends up just being a doe eyed girl most of the movie.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69825[/img]Summary“The Choice” is a pretty looking picture. One that revels in the beauty of the North Carolina landscape, as Director Ross Katz allows us to watch tall waving grasses blowing in the wind, with the blue backdrop of the water behind in, coupled with picturesque houses and their white picket fences. Fine detail is excellent throughout, as the colors stay in a very natural color palette and the bright cheery landscape is awash with gorgeous blues, greens, and whites. There is some blooming going on here and there, as the overly bright landscape kind of softens the picture at times, but overall the brightness is kept JUST on the good side of blooming. There’s some dark scenes that look a bit milky, but otherwise shadow detail is quite decent. Basically you’re standard “pretty” Nicholas Sparks location.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69833[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track is just what you’d expect from this type of movie. The dialog and the front sound stage take the brunt of the heavy lifting, with crisp vocals and nice balance with the romantic tuned score. Surrounds come into play with the soft rustling of the grasses in the background, with a ting and a pop here and there to liven up the back end, although there is some sense of 360 degree immersion during the tragic car accident that puts Gabby in her coma. LFE is passable and mild, with most of the entrances being in the car crash and a few slamming doors, or to accentuate the score. It’s a good track, and pretty typical of a romantic drama. It just isn’t asked to do a whole lot in comparison with other genres.
• Deleted Scenes
• "Cinematic Choices: Making The Choice" Featurette
• "Choosing Home: Nicholas Sparks and North Carolina" Featurette
• "Nicholas Sparks with..." Featurette
• Molly & Moby: Choice Dogs
• Audio Commentary with Director Ross Katz and Actor Benjamin Walker
Well, what more can I say? If you’ve seen one Sparks’s movie you’ve seen them all. “The Choice” is rife with all of the standard tropes that plague his movies and if you’re a fan of that, then you know exactly what you’re getting into. However most cinema fans may be put off by the Harlequin Romance level of depth and overly syrupy romance. The audio and video are about on par with the genre and I see no real faults to the disc. Even the extras are surprisingly solid in comparison to what we’ve been getting on most discs lately. It’s a combo pack to boot (another fading trend). So, if you’re a Sparks fan, then by all means, dive right in. However if you’re not so sure or just don’t like the rest of his books/movies then you’ve been forewarned.
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Ross Katz
Written by: Bryan Sipe (Screenplay), Nicholas Sparks (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 111 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Buy The Choice On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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