Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

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Netflix A-Z: Texas Chainsaw (2013)

Next up is the T selection! Man, the choices for this was huge.  Honestly,  I couldn’t quite decide what I wanted to watch.  My original selection in the rundown was between Tomorrowland and Two Night Stand but somehow, I just didn’t feel like watching either of those so I switched it up.  I guess what I wanted was something that was easy to watch and I have no idea why I went for Texas Chainsaw.  Don’t even ask me because I’ve only ever seen one Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and that was the remake in 2003.  I would never had thought I’d start up a Texas Chainsaw anything after that one since that was so memorable in the way that I watched about 20 minutes of  the movie and hid under my coat covering my ears for the remaining portion and randomly peaking out into gory scenes on screen.  Sure was a great way to spend Halloween with friends, right?  That being said, watching more horror has desensitived me a little to it all, I guess so I feel confident about watching this.

Enough rambling! Let’s check it out!

 Texas Chainsaw (2013)

texas chainsaw

Director: John Luessenhop

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Shaun Sipos, Thom Barry, Paul Rae

A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.- IMDB

Texas Chainsaw turns out to be in the horror thriller genre according to IMDB.  Not quite a surprise there for the horror part.  I’m not sure its a thriller though.  When Texas Chainsaw ended, I literally said to myself, “Wow, that was more dramatic than I expected it to be.” I don’t know the origin story to Leatherface. There was only one time before that I’ve seen anything of this and that was back in 2003 and I don’t think closing my ears, just hearing muffled sounds and peeking at the screen randomly counts as even seeing the movie.  My impression of the franchise is that its gory and violent and Leatherface is super scary. What Texas Chainsaw is is an origin story, giving a reason to why Leatherface does what he does.  I guess it makes him an anti-hero? But I mean, all the horror baddies like Michael Myers, Freddy, Jason kind of had back stories too that justified what they did, I guess it gives reason to why this movie is necessary if it wasn’t covered before (has it been covered?)  The thing is Leatherface suddenly seems justified in being the chainsaw-wielding giant (he’s 6 foot 5, so he’s giant to me) and even if it didn’t justify it, it seemed to try to make us sympathize for him.  But then, I guess what the deal is is that it didn’t all quite make a lot of sense, like the flow of the story.

texas chainsaw

The story here derives from Heather getting a call from a lawyer that she’s actually a Sawyer.  We know that because of the opening sequence portion but then it flashes to her adoptive parents that seem to give her nothing on the story and she just storms out. But still, she goes to follow the trail to get her inheritance which turns out to be a big house with tall gates and “Bitch” spray painted on one of the rock columns.  Inviting, right? But her and her friends still think its a great idea. And of course, she doesn’t follow instructions of what was left behind and in turn things get out of hand to what makes this movie.  I mean, the issue with this movie isn’t that its bad but rather that there are a lot of bad decisions, like illogical ones.  For example, why would you leave the stranger you picked up at a gas station in your new inherited house? Normally, wouldn’t at least one person stay behind? I do groceries by myself a lot and they needed four people to do a little bit of groceries. The plot had a lot of meaningless bits also that amounted to nothing either but it also gave us another side of the story (without giving away too much if you haven’t seen it and intend to).

texas chainsaw

Our cast here is actually rather familiar (to me at least).  For one, the main girl is Alexandra Daddario who I recently saw in San Andreas.  I’m guessing this is one of those starting roles in her career and for some odd reason they had to emphasize her awesome body and her big boobs for no odd reason like the scene above.  However, she was good with what her character was given.  Some times, in these roles, the main character isn’t particularly smart and she was okay. We can’t blame her for the script decisions.  Her character didn’t have much change and it didn’t make a whole lot of sense but I think she did alright for what she had.  There was Shaun Sipos who played the stranger they picked up called Darryl.  His role wasn’t huge but then I really like him quite a bit.  I just wish to see him in more significant roles.  But then, I haven’t seen Lost Dreams and apparently that’s supposed to be decent.  Moving on is another earlier role of Scott Eastwood.  I think this guy has some talent even if I only saw him in The Longest Ride.  He’s good looking and actually can interpret some good roles and in this one, his role was a nice addition.

Overall, Texas Chainsaw

Most of all, we have to talk about the main focus here: Leatherface.  I have to say that the character design at some angles weren’t great but then the story itself had its lacking moments as well and some parts didn’t make sense. However, there are some cringe-worthy moments and even some parts that did make me feel kind of tense.  Its still in the predictable slasher area but this scene up there, maybe wasn’t all the necessary, just like the open shirt side boob scene above, but I guess, it builds the character of what makes up Leatherface’s face. All in the name of the origin story building, right? 😉

Overall, it might sound like I’m trashing the movie.  Texas Chainsaw is by no means a slasher horror with a great story and it even enters the dramatic/suspenseful area to fulfill the thriller genre portion.  It gives us something like a twist and there’s an origin story that doesn’t completely make sense.  The characters and cast are decent.  I’m guessing I can’t be horrible about it because I haven’t seen the previous two (at all or much so I’m not a fan of the franchise either).  Something about a giant man wielding a chainsaw with a scary mask face makes me really agitated and tense so that alone made me a little nervous to watch it in certain parts but then, if it was in comparison to looking for gore like in the 2003 one (from what I remember), this one had next to none.  It all depends on what you expect.  To me, slashers (especially sequels) don’t always have stories that fully make sense and there’s a some bad decisions to be made and then some meaningless sexy moments and this movie had it all.  It was nothing new and there was like a scene or two of what looked like bad CGI so I’m indifferent to it.  That’s where I stand right now, maybe if I went back to watch the original and remake and come back, I might revisit it and do another review on it then. 😉

Have you seen Texas Chainsaw? What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise? Do you think I should go back and check out the movies before this? 

San Andreas (2015)

The first in a bunch of 2015 movies is going to be a disaster film.  If you missed the weekly adventures and updates, I got a good few 2015 movies for Boxing Day at some sweet deals. Instead of leaving them to sit on my shelf and forget about them until a few months later, I decided that I’m going to try and watch a few more 2015 a little earlier than a week before the Academy Awards.  As you can see, I chose to start with San Andreas so that is definitely not an Oscar choice, not by a long shot.  However, point is that I’m going to aim to get some 2015 titles watched, more than my little 25 movies or so that I’ve seen so far.

Enough of the rambling, let’s check out San Andreas! 🙂

San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnston-Burt, Art Parkinson, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Ioan Gruffudd

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.-IMDB

Disaster films (based on natural disasters) always work their hardest to make sure their audience needs to suspend their belief as much as possible.  Thing is, its got itself stuck in a category that almost guarantees to be bad movie-making with just a lot of crumbling buildings, floods, and other natural disasters when Mother Nature decides to tell the world (or the city) to go to hell. We’ve seen it in 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow for somewhat more popular choices. Despite saying that, you all know that I’m one to be able to suspend my belief quite a bit and plus, I change how I talk about a movie based on my expectations of it. San Andreas is a fun film.  Its predictable and has those normal natural disaster film tropes but you know what those other movies don’t have? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This man can make (almost) any film work with his expressions, one-liners and just his towering build.  There are a thousand things that don’t make sense in San Andreas, like him leaving his post to save his almost ex-wife and daughter but for all those things, there’s also a decent cast and story that kind of works. My best comparison would be like watching Uncharted as a movie because the moment you feel safe, impending danger happens almost immediately after. That is what disaster films need to be.

San Andreas

 A huge pro in San Andreas was that the cast we have here and the decisions they make, not just our main hero, Ray (played by Dwayne Johnson) made good decisions.  We had little heroes in the younger cast who saves each other and really toughs it out.  The youngest kid, Ollie makes some good calls.  Sure, romances and family drama shouldn’t be in the forefront of disaster movies but sometimes, in moderation, I can accept its existence.  Some of those moments were to let us understand Ray a little better so that we’d connect with his character also and his relationship with his ex-wife, who had just gotten engaged to this rich real estate guy responsible for the sturdiest skyscraper. We follow four groups throughout the movie from the experts, played by Paul Giamatti and his team at Caltech, Ray and his ex-wife finding their daughter, their daughter and the two brothers that escaped the building and ex-wife’s fiance Daniel. This movie is almost two hours long so it can sustain those story lines rather well (in comparison to other disaster film plots).

San Andreas

I’m not an expert in earthquakes and tectonic plates, even US geography and where the fault lines are and all that stuff, so I’m not going to talk about how sound the expert (played by Paul Giamatti) and his research worked here.  Like I said, there is a bit of suspending belief so I’m not sure I have to understand in depth but I got the idea so you knew that imminent dangers was hitting across that area. However, I do have to give it to San Andreas that its special effects were quite spot-on.  Sometimes, there are some cheesy or bad effects but this one made it rather believable.  If there’s any truth to this, if anything like this happens, Caltech is the place you want to be 😉

San Andreas

Overall, San Andreas is a pretty decent disaster movie.  A good part of that goes out to the great cast.  I personally love Dwayne Johnson and Paul Giamatti a lot so they already had extra points before the movie started.  It satisfied that disaster movie craving and actually exceeded what I expected to be much more fun with some good effects and smart characters that I was able to enjoy it even more.

Have you seen San Andreas? What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy watching disaster films?