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The Longest Ride (Blu-ray Review)

The-Longest-Ride-BDNicholas Sparks is responsible for a lot of successful romance dramas. Sure, not all of them have been all that well received (The Notebook seems to be the only film that stands out as generally seen as good), but they cater to a particular crowd that really enjoys them. The Longest Ride arrived this past spring and while it didn’t have the biggest theatrical impact, I am sure there were many who found themselves satisfied with this adaptation. Now the film is on Blu-ray for any romantic out there to enjoy.

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Film:

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Okay, so in all that setup, I do have to say the film is not my thing. It is not as though I am against romantically-inclined films in the same way I have nothing against films featuring black actors, just because I have little care for Tyler Perry as a writer/director. No, The Longest Ride falls into a category of romantic drama where the problems are fairly straightforward, the acting is decent enough, the ambition is blah, and script is full of generic material with little-to-no surprise as to how it plays out.

The quality of a film like this basically comes down to the direction and while George Tillman, Jr. does his best to harness the emotion, he can only do so much to enhance a story that simply adds a new flavor on top of a familiar tale. He does his duty though. This is a film that travels through time to tell two different stories and features some bull riding action to add a new flavor to the proceedings. Basically we once again get a depiction of love in North Carolina and it is fine in terms of showing us the surroundings.

Story-wise, this is the tale of true love of course. Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a bull riding champion looking for a comeback. Sophia (Britt Robertson) is a college student who is practically out the door, with only a few weeks left before starting her dream job in New York. The two meet and begin their romantic journey together pretty quickly, despite the obvious obstacle in the way.

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That is just the beginning, as we get a second story that takes us back in time. Luke and Sophia save a man (Alan Alda) from a car crash and we soon learn his story. When he was much younger and looking a lot more like Jack Huston, he fell in love with Oona Chaplin’s character. This story is juxtaposed with what is going on in the present. Drama and slow motion bull riding scenes ensue from there.

To its credit, The Longest Ride adds a little something different, as Huston and Chaplin’s characters are both Jewish, with the film delivering a large emphasis on Jewish culture in the scenes taking place in the past. That said, there is almost an over-the-top nature to how far the film goes to represent that angle in a film that already has a lot going on.

That is part of the problem. It takes a while before we even get to the flashback segments and the film feels a lot longer because of their inclusion. It is not as if this was a bad idea, but the setup is not the best in terms of creating a story that held together in the best of ways. There are themes that connect the two stories, but overall, this is a film that is stitched together, with hopes that it works.

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There are of course other surprises along the way, as these stories all have forms of twists that are supposed to make them extra special. Additionally, this is a film that is probably the only one to combine a love for art culture and bull riding. It is a bit wild and the melodrama is in full swing, but honestly the film is not that bad.

This film is better than the average Sparks drama, which is fine. Obviously I would always hope to see a good film, but for what it is worth, The Longest Ride is one of the more satisfying attempts to bring one of Sparks’ books to the screen and not seem like a complete embarrassment, when it comes to typical rom-drama stories.

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a solid transfer that features plenty of detail in order to capture the suburban and urban surroundings these characters are placed in, along with the past settings.

Depth: Plenty of scenes featuring multiple characters in the foreground and background look good enough to call out the lack of issue, when it comes to this disc’s handling of dimensionality on screen.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is somewhat saturated in the scenes taking place in the past, though the details found in the clothing and some of the environments allow for some nice moments to observe the colors on display.

Flesh Tones: The natural lighting and sharp detail work allows for a nice contrast with the consistent facial textures seen here.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing of note.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Dynamics: This film does plenty to show off the audio elements thanks to this monster 7.1 track. it is of no surprise that this track is out to overly impress and it gets the job done for the most part, with score-heavy and crowd-heavy scenes being well represented.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets some good use thanks to the bull riding sequences.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is some spread across the channels in the few crowded scenes in this film, such as parties and a prom, but for the most part, just enough is done to utilize a surround system, despite being so center-focused.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone comes in loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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I was not expecting a ton form the extras, but it was nice to get a lot of emphasis on the bull riding.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary by George Tillman, Jr. and Oona Chaplin – A decent discussion about the film and the shoot.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 19:13) – A lot of material here with optional commentary.
  • A Writer’s Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks (HD, 4:44) – A short look at the author’s day.
  • Beyond the Ride (HD, 4:14) – Standard EPK with cast and crew interviews.
  • Bringing it to Life (HD, 4:33) – Sparks and Alda have a small talk.
  • Meet the Real Bull Riders (HD, 6:08) – Real cowboys get to speak up.
  • Luke’s Bull Riding School (HD, 4:59) – A look at Scott Eastwood’s training for the film.
  • Gallery (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)
  • Digital HD And UltraViolet Copy of the Film

Summary:

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The Longest Ride delivers exactly what you would expect, but that is not a horrible thing. Sparks fans will likely enjoy this more than some of the last few of his films. Random viewers may appreciate some elements. The Blu-ray definitely delivers, as we get to see a fine presentation and a bunch of special features that help delve into the making of the film. Fine for a rental, if you really need a romantic story to watch, regardless of the clichés.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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