HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9176[/img]Title: The Lucky One
Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling
Directed by: Scott Hicks
Written by: Will Fetters (screenplay), Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 101 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 28st, 2012
HTS Overall Score:70
For those of you who don’t know, “The Lucky One” is the latest in a string of Nicholas Sparks book-to-film adaptations that have come out the last several years. Now, most of you know who Nicholas Sparks is. His fans are already clamoring to own the movie, or have already bought the book, the theatrical ticket, AND the Blu-ray/DVD the day it came out (Nicholas Sparks fans are kind of like Oprah Book club fans: a cult following of people who buy anything he writes or see any movie adaptation of one of his novels). On the other side of the coin, the male species hears the name "Nicholas Sparks" and puts heels the pavement running in the opposite direction. For the rest of you brave enough to stick it out and read the review, I salute you!
The film starts with our hero, Logan (Zac Efron) engaged in a night raid during his last tour of duty in Afghanistan. His platoon gets ambushed and he barely makes it out alive. Stunned and shocked over his narrow escape, he sees a photo lying outside on the ground, and shortly after walking over to pick it up and examine it, the spot he vacated goes up in a ball of flame, killing several compatriots while leaving Logan unharmed. Through the course of a few more scattered action shots, we see Logan searching the ranks of Marines for the owner, failing, and finally keeping the picture as a “good luck” charm.
Coming home, Logan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): jumping at small sounds, attacking someone when woken out of a dead sleep. He realizes that he’s not all right. He makes the decision that he needs to get up and leave; find himself, so to speak. He takes the picture - a shot of a woman standing beside a plain old lighthouse - and uses it to find possible locations for the woman's whereabouts. We see him search the internet to find similar lighthouses, and we are led to believe he goes to each town (attended by his faithful German Shepherd, Zeus) tracking her down, even though there seem to be a vast number of possibilities. Finally, he enters a small town in Louisiana where a random bar patron recognizes who she is and points him in the right direction. Finally, after all this trekking around, he finds the woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), who he attributes to saving his life and…………falters at the last moment. In a daze, he accepts a job (offered by Beth's grandmother, ironically) working as a grunt in her dog kennel, slowly falling in love with over the course of the movie, while still not able to reveal exactly why he came.
While this is all sweet and endearing, there is some hiccups in the story (as is with all Nicholas Sparks inventions). Beth has an eight-year-old son named Ben, who is bullied at school for playing the violin, and an aggressive bully of an ex-husband who also happens to be the town Deputy. Not only is he a little disgruntled that Logan is horning in on his turf, but he’s one of those alpha males who constantly has to prove that he’s “the boss” to everyone he meets. Clichéd and jealous, he does everything he can to throw a monkey wrench into Logan and Beth’s budding romance, ending in a life threatening scene of MASSIVE tragedy (trademark Nicholas Sparks) that brings the survivors closer together.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9179[/img]Surprisingly, I enjoyed the romance part of the movie. Taylor Schilling is sweet and completely believable as the grieving single mother. She breathed life into a character so clichéd that most other actresses would have made the role look cheesy and “been there done that." Instead, she’s a vibrant character with emotional baggage and a powerful love for her son. Even Zac Efron isn’t too bad. There are many scenes where he plays a very believable ex-Marine. Coming from a family of Marines, I can actually sympathize with the man and see the pain that he’s trying to overcome - those questions of "why me? Why did I survive," the stress of dealing with PTSD, the constant need to find peace and quiet due to going through the very opposite of peace for so long. I’ve heard some people on the net roll their eyes and say “why did he walk from Colorado to Louisiana looking for this girl when he could have just driven around?" Personally, I think that it wasn’t so much finding the girl as much as it was his journey; the walking was a way for him to assert control over his fears and stresses in a way that just driving around never could. It was a way for him to find himself, even re-invent himself along the way. The downside to the movie happened to be that there was just too many side plots and side characters. The movie was just a tad too busy for my taste. Had it focused solely on the budding romance, I could have forgiven some of the side characters, but with the addition of the bigoted and bullying Deputy (I can’t help but compare this to a slightly sappy version of Rambo : First Blood: the bigoted deputy harasses a wandering ex-soldier to the point of insanity) along with the inclusion of the male-male bonding between Logan and young Ben was just too distracting. The film kept jumping all over the place until the typical Nicholas Sparks tragedy draws the movie to a close. My wife loved the movie, so for all you guys out there, I have two words for you: Date Night.
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9178[/img]Warner Brothers provides us a good looking transfer with very little artifacting of any kind. Every once in a while, some light banding would come into play, but it was never very distracting, just noticeable if you know what to look for. Colors are bright, and there is a nice yellow hue to the movie, giving it a very bright and sunny feel - very in line with the cheery romantic feeling that infused most of the movie. Blacks are good, and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t notice any black crush, and the detail in dark scenes was excellent. Facial detail was occasionally blurred by that sunny, bright hue, but close ups gave us some great detail that the DVD is certainly lacking. There’s nothing that makes this one stand apart from the pack to make one say “WOW, now THAT’S a great picture”, but at the same time, whoever was behind the encoding machine wasn’t slacking that day.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9175[/img]Audio for “The Lucky One” is just about as impressive as the video. There is very little in the way of LFE or huge use of the surrounds, but the vocals are firmly planted in the front three speakers, showing an excellent array of clarity and speaker separation. Dynamic range is good for the type of film. Vocals are nice and balanced without any thundering sound effects or too soft surround usage. While we don’t have much surround use, it is used for the standard mundane things of life, such as footsteps coming up behind a person and animal chatter shifting from one speaker to the next depending on location. Again, there’s nothing to make this soundtrack rank up there with the big dogs, but it’s clean and polished without any detractors. Another good solid encode from Warner Brothers.
• Zac Efron Becomes a Marine
• Watch the Sparks Fly - The Romantic World of "The Lucky One"
• BZac and Taylor's Amazing Chemistry
I went into “The Lucky One” completely expecting to be rolling my eyes the entire movie and wishing I had another beer at hand, maybe two. While there certainly some great groan-inducing lines and hammed up acting jobs all meant to tear up the lady of the house, I surprisingly enjoyed the movie for what it was: a light fluffy romance where I could snuggle on the couch with the wife and enjoy a movie night. For those of you who ARE rabid Nicholas Sparks fans, I’m sure it’s already on your shelf, but for those of you who stuck around till the end of this review and have a significant other, I recommend at least giving it a rent.
Recommendation: Rent It!