‘Safe Haven’ makes Sparks fizzle

The first thought that came to mind walking out of the theater was, Oh my God, I just paid $10 to watch a Lifetimemovie.

Anyone who has seen any of Nicholas Sparks previous films knows he rarely strays from the trite, thematic formula of two people falling in love in apicturesque North Carolina town, always kept apart by someextraneous circumstance.

Safe Haven predictablyfollows Sparks usual recipe, but also has plot twists thrown in at the end of the film that have never been seen in his workbefore.

Though not every element in the movie was bad, there was enough bad to keep eyes rolling from start to finish.

The film begins with Katie(Julianne Hough) franticallyrunning through a bus terminal with a detective (David Lyons)desperately chasing after her. Katie barely escapes by jumping on a bus heading to Atlanta.

While on a pit stop, Katierandomly chooses to start a new life in a predictably quaint North Carolina town.

Upon her arrival, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), awidower with two children who are handling their mothers death in very different ways.

Somehow, Alex inevitably falls for Katies cold, aloof personality and begins to court her.

A bulletin is posted in the new towns sheriffs officeinforming the public thatKatie, whose real name is Erin Tierney, is wanted as asuspect in a murder. However, through graphic flashbacks it isrevealed that Katie is a victim ofdomestic abuse, which leaves the audience wondering if she is really a victim or a murderer.

Though Katie isfearful of letting anyone get too close to her, she quicklyaccepts Alexs advances after a seven-minute, barely convincingconversation with a girl she meets (Cobie Smulders). The film treatsdomestic violence far toolightly, and it is unlikely for awoman escaping in fear for her life to move into an isolated cabin in the woods of a town she is not
familiar with, with no escape plan in case a predictable life-threateningsituation occurs.

Katie and Alexs first date is a romantic canoe trip that isinterrupted by an unexpectedrainstorm yes, exactly like the scene in The Notebook. The audience is reminded of yet another Sparks film while watching the steamy,dimly-lit love scene that follows exactly like the scene in Dear John.

The only thing worthwatching in the film wasDuhamel. Comparing his performance in Safe Haven to that inTransformers, romance films seem to be a much better fit for him. With a different plot, director and leading lady, he might have had a chance at a great performance.

Safe Haven, Footloose and Rock of Ages haveproven that Hough is not leading lady material. Though she haspotential, and is a great supporting actress, her performance has a lot of growing to do.

It wasnt just the plot twist at the end that was highlypredictable from the middle of the movie onward that made the moviedislikable.

The film brought memories of everymovie found on theLifetime Network not only by the predictabledomestically abused woman starts a new life, only tobe found by abusivehusband plot, but also the art direction andacting.

I would like tocommend Sparks fortrying something new, but I would like toquickly remind him that he is not M. NightShyamalan and that mush and sap is what draws his fans to the theater not the eye roll inducing twists.