The Choice (2016)

 

Released: February 5, 2016. Directed by: Ross Katz. Starring: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario. Runtime: 1hr, 51 min.

Life will give you many choices. It will give you the choice to see this film. Don’t.

The Choice opens with Benjamin Walker’s Travis talking about how life is full of choices – and he “has to make a big one,” while he’s on his speed boat on the lake in his North Carolina coastal town. He then goes to the hospital with a bouquet of flowers, wondering how Gabby (Teresa Palmer) is doing. Then, it says seven years later.

To me, this is a spoiler in itself. I thought this took me out of the movie experience – because when there was enough time for seven years to pass, I was expecting in the back of the mind for Gabby to go into the hospital.

I don’t mind when a film starts with a scene from the middle of the narrative. It works effectively for complex films like Memento.  But it most certainly doesn’t work for a film that is as simplistic and predictable as a sappy Nicholas Sparks feature.

I’m not sure if the screenwriter, Bryan Sipe, decided to open the film this way because it’s the way the novel opens – or if the editor just plopped it there – but it’s definitely my main complaint of the film.

The story itself is about Travis, a veterinarian, who doesn’t like anything that doesn’t come easy. He’s the type of guy who only has one chair looking onto the water, even though he’s been on and off with Monica (Alexandra Daddario) since high school.

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Teresa Palmer and Tom Wilkinson in The Choice. (Source)

He then meets Gabby, a new neighbour who immediately bothers him. It’s a recurring line in the film – which is about how crappy the dialogue gets. Even though Gabby is seeing Ryan (Tom Welling), they start a relationship, which is challenged by life’s biggest tests.

The film has some funny moments and great cinematography (kudos, Alar Kivilo), but the screenplay is only sporadically entertaining. It is at least more charming than bland. At least it isn’t as totally bonkers as the ending from Safe Haven or as unrealistic as the opening of The Lucky One where Zac Efron found a pretty girl just from a picture almost immediately.

Ross Katz isn’t able to direct strong performances from a usually good Teresa Palmer, and Benjamin Walker is nothing memorable. Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace and Tom Wilkinson have good supporting performances. Tom Welling (Smallville) is there for a time, but Superman doesn’t seem to put the utmost effort into his performance.

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Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker in The Choice. (Source)

I did find myself enjoying the film for the first hour. But I never found myself caring deeply for the characters. They were developed weakly with nothing more than a few qualities.

And the main “choice” of the film wasn’t introduced until around the 85-minute mark. It’s a whole new development that’s brought on by something that is truly ridiculous.

There’s a good emotional moment in the film’s last third, but the third act feels like it is much longer than it actually is. With these characters, I would have been fine with a 90-minute movie. It felt like it could have ended at a certain point – and I felt like I was nearly scot free with a short film.

But then the story line held me for what felt like an hour longer (probably about 30 minutes in real time). By that point, I was exhausted – no matter how lovely the film looked.

2 outta 5

 

 

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians - The Lightning ThiefReleased: February 12, 2010. Director: Chris Columbus. Stars: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson. Runtime: 118 min.

Since the “Harry Potter” franchise was almost finished, this studio beat the new crowd of Young Adult adaptations. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” headed that crowd.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is an average New York teenager battling with things like anxiety and ADHD. Soon enough, after Zeus’s (Sean Bean) lightning bolt is stolen, he finds out he is the son of Poseidon, god of the Sea. It is assumed that Percy has stolen the Bolt — and he must set out on a quest to prove his innocence and prevent a war between the gods. He won’t be going alone though, as by his side is Annabeth (Alexandria Daddario), daughter of Athena, and his guardian, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson).

“The Lightning Thief” was supposed to be the next Harry Potter, with the same director (Chris Columbus), but it ultimately failed. While it has some of the same visual effects of “HP,” it lacks the fresh magic. It’s not that the primary three “heroes” aren’t likeable, because they are, it’s just that the familiar plot doesn’t have a lot of surprises.

At least it has a great cast (from Sean Bean to Pierce Brosnan to Uma Thurman) to carry the film. But everyone is shoved in there in mostly minor roles, it very much feels like it’s trying to be like Harry Potter again, but with more American actors than British. The coming-of-age aspect of the film, where Percy has to adapt to this huge change, is interesting. And his motives are noble, but not exactly his ways to go about them. (He thinks he can rescue someone dear to him from Hades after one training session.) There are a few funny lines, mostly delivered by Brandon T. Jackson. The world is imaginative. I like this family-friendly take on Greek mythology. The movie is certainly watchable, but it’s forgettable and slightly too long.

Score63/100