Top critical review
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Let down by the ending
on 5 August 2010
'Dear John' is the third novel to film adaptation from the popular american writer Nicholas Sparks that I've had the 'pleasure' of watching (the first two being 'The Notebook' and 'A walk to Remember'). After a wonderful trailer, and having thoroughly enjoyed the previous two film adaptations, I was looking forward to seeing 'Dear John' until the negative reviews started flooding in (the film currently has a 5.9/10 rating on IMDb and a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). However, never one to rely only on other people's opinions and always in favour of forming my own, I decided to take the plunge and watch 'Dear John'...and for once I really wish I did just listen to the critics!
Lets lay down brief plot synopsis before continuing. On spring vacation for two weeks, school girl Savannah (played by 'Mamma Mia!'s Amanda Seyfried) meets and falls in love with soldier John Tyree (played by the gorgeous Channing Tatum) who is on leave for a few weeks before he must return to the army to complete his final year of service. Before parting ways, Savannah and John promise to keep in touch through letters - and they do (hence the title 'Dear John'). However, just before John's 1 year is complete the September 11 attacks occur and John feels obliged to sign up for an additional 2 years service, something Savannah can't handle. To find out what happens next - watch the film!
Despite liking the initial hour or so of the film, I felt that the latter half let down the former so badly that it has tainted my enjoyment of the entire film. There was so much potential here, interesting characters, an interesting situation, but after John received a certain letter (those who have watched the film will know what I am talking about) the film went downhill for me, and the dwindling, anti-climactic ending didn't do anything to help save the day. I have another bone to pick as well - which is more of a problem with the source material (or, more precisely the author) than this actual adaptation. From the three film adaptations I've watched, all of Nicholas Sparks' novels are the same They all feature a tough 'bad boy' who is either poor, a trouble maker, or has anger issues (etc) who fall in love with a beautiful, innocent, VirginMary-esque girl who make them change who they are, and give them a new reason to live. But of course, something always comes in the way after a brief yet intense romance, and the rest of the story is about the star-crossed lovers regretting their earlier choices and pining the fact they're not together like they should be. If I was 14 years old I would be eating this stuff up, and even now I understand the appeal, but I do think it's ridiculous for an author to write the same story over and over again.
Although my review may seem harsh, I have to confess that I did enjoy much of the film and if it wasn't for the awfully poor ending, this review would have had at least a couple more stars added to it's rating. I don't know whether it's due to the source material, or lazy film makers, but after an hour the story fell completely flat and let down what could have been a very good film indeed.