“Safe Haven” fails to defy Sparks’ movie clichés

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photo courtesy of Relativity Media

The lastest Nicholas Sparks book to film adaptation, “Safe Haven,” fails to move away from a cheesy plot and overly dramatic love story.

Hannah Scherer, Staff Writer

Following box-office hits “The Notebook” and “The Vow,” another of Nicholas Sparks’ novels is brought to life in “Safe Haven,” starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. The romantic-drama, fittingly released on Valentine’s Day, deserves its high spot in the weekly charts bringing the cheesy plot line and dramatic scenes Sparks fans have come to expect.

In the film, Julianne Hough plays Katie, a young woman on the run from her dangerous past and a complicated present, damaged by her abusive and alcoholic husband. Katie escapes to a small town in North Carolina where she meets Alex, played by Josh Duhamel, and attempts to start over with him and the new community she has found.

Movie-goers who also read the book noticed several key differences between the two adaptations of the story. Generally, the book provided much more backstory and allowed the plot to flow better, similar to most book to movie adaptations. Besides the bigger concepts, several small details also changed, such as Alex’s daughter had a different name and the climax of the story happens during Fourth of July celebrations rather than a regular day at Katie’s house.

Duhamel and Hough portray Alex and Katie well, despite the cheesy script they were given to act out. Duhamel exhibited Alex’s protective and caring nature well, both over his children and over Katie. The only disappointment with Hough’s acting was that she displayed Katie as a cold, almost self-centered person until she finally opened up to Alex. In the book, Katie’s attitude was more smart and cunning rather than estranged, closed-minded, and the typical frazzled abused woman.

Relativity Media

The real stand-out character was Kevin, Katie’s alcoholic, abusive husband who was willing to go to the extreme to get Katie back. Played by David Lyons, the audience sees Kevin as the terrifying abuser Katie ran away from in the first place. Lyons showed off his acting abilities by ranging from a determined police officer to a deranged, abusive ex-husband.

Although the actors did a good job of portraying the characters readers grew to love in the novel, the script and modified plotline The book allowed for more time to explain Alex and Katie’s relationship, whereas in the movie they met, Alex made Katie a bike, and the next thing you know they began a deeply committed relationship. The speed the movie progressed at was unfamiliar and sometimes confusing to watch.

Overall, “Safe Haven” succeeded as a cheesy romantic drama for fans of the genre, but if you aren’t looking for a movie to cry to while eating a bucket of ice cream on Valentine’s Day, it’s not worth your time.