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The Vow (2012)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/8/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/12/2012
Hollywood loves trends, especially successful ones. For years now, tear-jerker romantic dramas have been huge, thanks in part to those based on the work of novelist Nicholas Sparks like The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, and A Walk to Remember. These movies typically feature a couple who must overcome some sort of tragic event and are able to do so due to their unbridled love. The Vow is not based on a Sparks novel, in fact, it's based on a true story, but it certainly has all of the hallmarks of one of his books.
The Vow opens with married couple Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) being involved in a horrific car accident which sends Paige through the windshield. The story then jumps back in time four years to show how the couple met and fell in love. Back in the present, Paige awakens from her coma, but doesn't recognize Leo. She can't remember anything from the last five years. Her estranged parents Bill (Sam Neill) and Rita (Jessica Lange) arrive to collect her and as she doesn't recall Leo or her life with him, she's tempted to go with them. Paige's physician recommends that she go with Leo as being back in her home may trigger memories. However, this doesn't immediately work and Leo finds himself living with a stranger who has a totally different personality. Paige doesn't understand any of her life with Leo and feels much more comfortable with her high-school friends and her parents. But Leo will not give up and he's determined that he can make Paige fall in love with him again.
We've seen movies before where an established couple goes through a crisis and must learn to love again, but the amnesia angle isn't seen very often (more on this in a moment). Due to her memory loss, it's like Leo and Paige are meeting again for the first time and he must make her fall in love with him all over again. However, the story throws an unusual and confusing kink into this equation. It's established that the last five years of Paige's life has been erased and, in her mind, she still lives with her parents and is attending law school. We slowly learn about how she moved to the city and met Leo. What doesn't make any sense is how she had a completely different personality in the past. In short, memory-loss Paige is shallow, arrogant, and flighty. In short, she's quite unlikable. We understand why her life changed when she left home, but how did she become the bohemian person which she was before the accident? This also calls into question why Leo would want to resurrect their relationship. Not only does this Paige not know him, she isn't the Paige which he fell in love with. In a deleted scene, his friends try to set him up on a blind date and he gets angry. I think that the scene was attempt to cast the friends in a bad light, but we, the audience, completely understand why they think that he should move on, as we've see the new Paige and don't like her.
And while Paige's character is deeply flawed, Leo's is OK. The problem is that Channing Tatum doesn't have the acting chops to pull off this role. We are watching a man lose everything which he's come to love and Tatum simply doesn't have the skills to properly emote. His dead eyes show no feeling and when he tries to act, it feels very forced. I never felt anything for Leo and not just because I didn't like Paige. Also, Leo has some lines which are funny, but as delivered by Tatum, they fall flat. In addition, Leo is supposed to be a rock 'n roll expert who owns a recording studio, but it was hard to buy this coming from Tatum as well. Tatum played a similar role inDear John, but it was easier to believe that he was a soldier.
I was really surprised by just how much The Vow was a mis-fire given the names involved in front of the camera. Director Michael Sucsy, who made the multi award wining TV movie Grey Gardens, makes his feature film debut here and while he keeps things moving at a nice pace, he should have questioned the story issues in the film. What's the weirdest thing about The Vow? It's the fact that Adam Sandler did it better in 50 First Dates. Sure, that's a stupid Adam Sandler movie, but at least it understand that the viewer must really like the woman with amnesia which the man is trying to woo.
The Vow made me want to watch Source Code again on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, as they are quite natural looking, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects and unlike some films of this genre, the image never goes soft. The image's depth is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are adequate, as they highlight some sounds coming from off-screen. The surround sound effects work well in some crowd scenes and when Paige plays loud music. The crash scene delivers powerful subwoofer effects.
The Vow Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Michael Sucsy. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. This contains two interesting scenes -- one introduces a character who suddenly appears in the finale and the other shows a nice moment between Leo and Paige's mom. "'Til Death Do They Part" (8 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers a look at the story and how the project came together. We get comments from the creative team and the cast, as well as a physician who defines amnesia. "Profiles of Love: Paige and Leo" (10 minutes) takes an oddly long look at the characters and the story. It also tackles how Tatum and McAdams approached their roles. "Trying to Remember" (10 minutes) takes a closer look at memory loss (with more comments from the physician) and has those involved with the movie discussing the challenge which the two characters face. The finale extra is a 3-minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long