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Julie Anne Robinson
Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston
Writing Credits:
Nicholas Sparks (and book), Jeff Van Wie

Do you ever really forget your first heartbreak?

Miley Cyrus shines as the star of this heartwarming coming-of-age movie that will strike your emotional chords. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (Dear John, The Notebook), The Last Song follows Ronnie (Cyrus) and her estranged father as he tries to restore the loving relationship they once had. But reconnecting with his rebellious daughter isn’t easy, so he chooses the one thing they still have in common — music. Complete with not-to-be-missed bonus features — the Miley Cyrus music video “When I Look At You,” exclusive interviews with the actress and more — this uplifting and touching drama about family, first loves and second chances is a heartfelt story to you won’t soon forget.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$16.007 million on 2673 screens.
Domestic Gross
$62.933 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/17/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director Julie Anne Robinson and Co-Producer Jennifer Gibgot
• Alternate Opening and Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• “Making of the Music Video” Featurette
• “Set Tour With Bobby Coleman” Featurette
• Previews
• Bonus DVD


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Last Song [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2010)

With 2010’s The Last Song, we see Miley Cyrus’s formal attempt to move past Hannah Montana and create a popular identity for herself. That’s essential if she expects to maintain a long-term career, though it remains to be seen if she can pull off that trick. The pop culture highway is littered with the carcasses of teen idols who couldn’t adapt and stay relevant.

Not that Song does much to challenge Cyrus, as it often resembles a more serious version of Hannah Montana: The Movie. After her parents’ divorce, Ronnie Miller (Cyrus) remains bitter and estranged from her father Steve (Greg Kinnear). Ronnie once showed immense talent as a pianist, but after her dad’s departure, she became angry and abandoned her musical aspirations. Nonetheless, she still gets into Julliard; though she’s not played in three years, her reputation precedes her.

Ronnie refuses to go, but her parents hope to change her mind. In the meantime, her mom (Kelly Preston) sends Ronnie and her little brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman) to spend the summer with their dad. She resists and resents this, but a few elements allow her to open up over time.

First of all, Ronnie discovers sea turtle eggs endangered by raccoons and she decides to save them. She calls the local aquarium for help and gets a call from Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth), a cute boy she ran into – literally – earlier. They eventually develop a relationship as Ronnie goes through various life changes during her summer at the beach.

If Cyrus, et al., expect Song to do much to expand her “brand”… well, better luck next time. Does the film present her in a more mature light than Hannah Montana did? Sure, but that doesn’t say much. Montana aimed for a pre-teen demographic, while Song shoots for a slightly older group; I’m thinking early teens, maybe all the way up to 15-year-olds.

It’s hard to imagine an older crowd would get much from such a hackneyed, predictable, stale film, though. For its first two-thirds, Song essentially follows a standard “teen girl finds herself over a special summer” template, which means it focuses mostly on her romance with the Cute Boy. Like virtually all films of this sort, Song idealizes its male lead. Will is handsome and fit but not too masculine, so he won’t be threatening to younger girls. He’s also the one who sees past Ronnie’s tough exterior and connects to her for intellectual, emotional reasons, not because she’s cute. Heck, Will even ditches the town’s Hot Blonde so he can discuss Russian literature with Ronnie!

Gleep. So that’s how the movie’s initial two acts go; it’s a teen girl coming of age story drama mixed with a little comedy. Then it takes a darker turn during its final act. I’d prefer not to spill too many beans, but the last third of the flick concentrates on grimmer material and gives the movie a gloomier feel.

One that I don’t think it needs, and one that eventually hurts the flick. When Song pursues a more heavily melodramatic path, it feels cheap. The morbid final act comes across like little more than a quick and easy way to jerk some tears out of the audience; it never comes across as an especially organic climax, and I don’t think the film needs it. No, the prior two-thirds aren’t especially engaging, but the flick’s sudden attempt to turn itself into Terms of Endearment strikes me as crass and unnecessary; the movie works better when it maintains its simple “girl comes out of her shell” motif.

As a vehicle to push along the career of Grown-Up Miley, Song feels like a compromise. On one hand, Cyrus and all involved seem eager to put her in something darker and more dramatic than Hannah Montana. That doesn’t seem tough; a big-screen adaptation of The Bugaloos would likely boast more grit and depth than the cotton-candy world of Hannah.

However, Cyrus et al. seem afraid to push Our Miles too far. As I mentioned earlier, Song does often come across like a more melodramatic version of The Hannah Montana Movie. Both plop the lead in a southern place she doesn’t want to be and forces her to fit in, all while she falls for The Cute Boy and gets in touch with Her Real Self. Hannah was peppier and more candy-coated, and it lacked the tear jerking ending, but the two still feel cut from the same cloth.

While I didn’t expect Cyrus to throw herself into something really dark like Thirteen, but if she wants to move past her Hannah Montana image, she needs to push herself harder than she does here. Ronnie comes across like a Disney Channel version of a goth. She dresses in black and seems vaguely introverted and sarcastic, but any intensity/anger the character possesses remain barely skin-deep. Ronnie’s a thin role, and Cyrus lacks the acting chops to make her any more interesting.

Don’t take that to mean that I believe Cyrus lacks talent. While I don’t see her as a particularly gifted singer or actor, she certainly possesses at least decent skills in both areas, and I think she could maintain a respectable to good career over the years.

Unfortunately, The Last Song doesn’t launch her post-Hannah life well. We’ve seen about a million movies like this, and it doesn’t do anything to make itself notable. It’s a formulaic misfire.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

The Last Song appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie provided a good transfer but not an exceptional one.

Overall definition seemed positive, but a few exceptions occurred, as occasional wide shots appeared a bit soft. Still, those remained rare, and the majority of the flick demonstrated nice delineation and clarity. I noticed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and the film lacked edge enhancement. Source flaws also failed to appear, and we got a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, Song went with a warm, natural palette. It favored a sun-dappled look that fit the beachfront setting, and the tones consistently appeared full and rich. Blacks seemed adequate, though I thought they were a bit inky, and shadows tended to be a little too dense; they were never impenetrable, but I felt they lacked great definition. This remained a perfectly competent presentation that simply failed to deliver great vivacity.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it gave us competent sonics and little more. Granted, a quiet drama like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable. The soundfield didn’t have a lot to do; it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience. Even the ocean setting didn’t manage to add much to the proceedings; the soundscape gave us a reasonable feel for the environment and never went beyond that.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared fairly full; the score could’ve been a bit more vibrant, but it came across with reasonable definition. Effects didn’t impress but they weren’t supposed to do so; they remained clear and accurate, though. Nothing here impressed, but it worked fine for the story.

A mix of extras fills out the set. We start with an audio commentary from director Julie Anne Robinson and co-producer Jennifer Gibgot. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast, characters and performances, music, sets and locations, editing, story and adaptation issues, and a few other production notes.

While not the most fascinating commentary I’ve heard, this one does manage to deliver the appropriate goods. It examines the expected topics and does so in a pretty worthwhile manner. Of course, it lacks any “dirt” and tends toward the happy talk side of the street, but it doesn’t turn into a boring praise-fest. The two women cover a good mix of filmmaking subjects in an enjoyable manner.

An inevitable music video appears for Miley Cyrus’s “When I Look at You”. The song is a melodramatic Diane Warren-style belter that does nothing for me. The video’s not especially interesting either, but it deserves some credit for the fact it includes no actual movie clips. Instead, it shows lip-synch shots of Cyrus and also throws in some new footage of her co-star Liam Hemsworth, so it sort of attempts to tell a little story. It’s not much, but it’s better than the average video for a movie song.

We also find a Making of the Music Video featurette. This runs four minutes, 20 seconds and includes remarks from Cyrus, Hemsworth, and film producer/music video director Adam Shankman, and production designer Nelson Coates. They give us a few minor notes about the shoot of the video – some very minor notes. It’s a short, superficial clip.

A Set Tour with Bobby Coleman goes for five minutes, six seconds. It takes us around the location and includes young actor Coleman’s chats with Shankman, Cyrus’s guard “Warren”, makeup department head John R. Bayles, hair department head Patricia Glasser, key craft services Reva Grantham, grip Chris “Barefoot” Alled, and video assist Charles “Chaz” Laughon. We get a quick look at what some lesser-known crewmembers do. I’ve seen similar shows like this, and they’re good for newbies who want a brief primer. It’s fluffy but not bad.

In addition to an Alternate Opening (2:55), we get five Deleted Scenes. These last a total of seven minutes, nine seconds and include “Ronnie at the Piano” (1:08), “Steve and Ronnie at the Beach” (0:55), “Hospital Montage” (1:29), “Vegan Cookies” (1:33) and “Juggling on the Pier” (2:04). The “Opening” gives us a look at an event that will become important later in the movie. The movie’s actual opening includes a little of this material, and I think it’s enough to set up the topic; the “Alternate” version starts the movie in a darker manner and doesn’t add anything.

As for the other scenes, the first three come during the film’s third act and add a smidgen of exposition. They’re unnecessary; we get more than enough of these elements during the final flick. The first two come earlier in the movie and also contribute unneeded information. For instance, we learn more clearly that Blaze’s boyfriend is a total prick; that’s already abundantly obvious in the released version.

We can watch these scenes with or without commentary from Robinson. She tells us a little about shooting the sequences and why she dropped them. The director covers the clips well.

At least one Easter Egg shows up here. When you click down from the entry for the commentary, you’ll light up a small sea turtle. Press enter and you’ll see a 21-second outtake. Robinson speaks over this snippet and tells us that it shows Greg Kinnear as he “tortures” her cousin, an extra on the flick.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Seabiscuit, When in Rome, and Lost. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Disneynature Oceans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and A Christmas Carol (2009).

With The Last Song, Miley Cyrus moves toward the grown-up portion of her career. She takes little more than baby steps, though, so anyone who expects her to separate herself from her prefab image will feel disappointed in this trite, ordinary melodrama. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture and audio along with a few reasonably useful supplements. I suspect Cyrus fans will enjoy the film, but it won’t win over anyone new.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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