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Predictable plot leaves audience disappointed (VIDEO)

Many teenage girls across the nation counted down the days leading up to the release of Safe Haven, a new romantic flick based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Released on Feb. 14, the romantic plot tied in with the Valentine’s Day atmosphere.

Many screenplays have been adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novels, including The Notebook (2004), A Walk to Remember (2002) and The Lucky One (2012). Sparks’ novels are widely read by girls in the pre-teen and teenage age groups, which makes these movies highly anticipated. Most of his novels follow similar plot lines, with a romantic couple that ends up together in the end and some sort of hardship that they face together.

Safe Haven takes place in Southport, North Carolina, and follows the journey of Erin Tierney (Julianne Hough), a woman who escapes from her alcoholic, abusive husband, Kevin (David Lyons).

She disguises herself and takes on a new identity, changing her name to “Katie.” She becomes friends with her neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders), and begins to start her new life. Katie then meets Alex Wheatley (Josh Duhamel), the owner of a local store, and quickly develops a romantic relationship with him. Katie becomes part of Alex’s life, acting as a mother-figure to Alex’s two kids, Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) and Josh (Noah Lomax).

As Katie and Alex’s relationship develops, Kevin frantically searches for his wife by using the resources he has as a police officer. He sends out an image of her face to police stations nation-wide that claims she is a murderer, which complicates her life in Southport.

The plot thickens as movie-watchers discover that Kevin has discovered Katie’s location and is determined to bring her home with him. The movie ends dramatically, when Kevin, Katie and Alex come face-to-face with one another.

Safe Haven was a decent movie for a night with friends; however, there was nothing extremely special about it. The entire movie had a very slow feel, with few major events occurring. Before watching Safe Haven, I read the novel by Sparks, which led me to compare the two versions of the story.

I was disappointed that the movie failed to illustrate the extent to which Katie went to escape from her husband. In the novel, Katie had to plan her escape for weeks and stopped in multiple towns before settling in Southport. In the movie, her escape seemed very spur-of-the-moment, and she found her “safe haven” too quickly.

Despite the lack of suspense at times, the movie was able to touch on some subjects quite well, such as the pain experienced by a widower and the lasting struggles of abusive relationships.

Though the movie has a fairly happy ending, audience members can still see the pain felt by the characters because of their pasts. This makes the plot slightly more realistic. Julianne Hough’s depiction of Katie was fairly adequate; she did a good job at showing the recovery of an abused woman. David Lyons also played the part of Kevin very well, often adding suspense to the plot.

One very interesting aspect of the movie was the character of Jo. At the end of the movie, audience members are forced to question whether she was actually present or if she was just a figment of Katie’s imagination. This aspect of the movie makes the plot more interesting by adding symbolism to the story.

The ending of Safe Haven was a little too dramatic to be realistic. Though it closely followed the book’s plot, the fast-paced, theatrical ending contrasted with the slow pace of the rest of the movie.

There were definitely some teary eyes in the theater as the credits rolled, but that was probably to be expected from a Sparks-inspired movie. Safe Haven has not received the reception and success that some past Sparks films have received. The movie was not horrible; in fact, at times it was gripping. However, the slow and predictable plot line makes it a movie not worth paying a ticket to go see.

This movie was rated PG-13 for a brief sex scene, violence, profanity, use of alcohol and frightening scenes. I went to see the movie with a group of high school girls; if I had gone with any other group, some of the scenes would have been very uncomfortable to watch. Some of the scenes are not fit for young children to watch, and parents should think before allowing their children to see it.

This movie runs at 115 minutes and can be viewed at most local theaters.

For more reviews, read the Jan. 11 article, Glee star writes, stars in teen-centered flick (VIDEO).

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