It’s 10-minutes in before The Last Song loses all credibility, as if it had much prior to attempting to push Miley Cyrus into the spotlight. It’s the inevitable “meet cute,” the famed Roger Ebert coined term that pretty much destroys any real sense of romance.
Usually, it’s when two people drop something, they hit heads, laugh awkwardly, and feel a connection. Here, it’s close to that. Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) purchases a strawberry shake, and in a move that makes her oblivious to her surroundings, walks right in the midst of a beach volleyball game. Lo and behold, her soon to be hunky boyfriend Will (Liam Hemsworth) runs right into her spilling the shake. Shocking.
Last Song hits just about every single romantic cliché. It hurries to get there too, because the 100+ minute running time isn’t enough for proper exposition. Instead, Ronnie pours her heart out to some girl she just met on the beach, bringing us up to speed on her past and rebellious teenager ways.
This is the cue for endless strings of montages, Ronnie and Will gleefully playing in the mud, prancing around on the water, and getting into other endless summer romance shenanigans. It’s all brought down a notch by Will’s impossibly rich, snooty mother (Kate Vernon) and some painfully foreshadowed medical drama that should be obvious from the opening frames.
If the film teaches us anything, it’s that a summer fling heals all, from the hatred toward a father that abandoned you, general teenage angst, mistreatment from the bitchy girl on the beach, and that criminal record we can forget about. Surely the film world would be better if not another Nicholas Sparks novel were turned into a film. We get the point by now, and it’s nearing a level of parody.
Last Song comes to Blu-ray in an AVC effort, a rare misfire for Touchstone/Disney. The Georgia location shoot hardly benefits from the hi-def presentation, sagging along between minimal definition, routinely processed faces, and merely adequate black levels. This doesn’t start well, a shot of some plant life at 1:54 setting the muddy overly digital tone that will carry through this transfer.
Much of the film takes place in low light, but even those shot in daylight don’t fare very well. At 18:55, Greg Kinnear and Bobby Coleman appear terribly processed and un-film like. While a stable and consistent grain structure is noted (and is well resolved), many of the close-ups appear significantly smoothed over. It’s everyone too, Cyrus certainly looking processed at 1:01:02, and Kinnear waxy at 1:15:41. Mid-range or in close doesn’t really matter. In fact, some of the distant shots are amongst the worst. Cyrus and Hemsworth at 42:49 are terribly blotchy as they carve into a tree, and the environment is no better.
The encode maintains a stable bitrate, so this all could very well be the case of some ill-advised tinkering. In fact, besides a noisy sky at 23:38, there doesn’t seem to much of anything wrong with the encode itself. Of course the source is pristine; it should be. It’s not that the disc is devoid of detail. The occasional shot will produce a bit of texture, Hemsworth’s face producing some slightly visible pores and defined hair at1:24:28, but these are the exceptions.
Colors are slightly elevated, leading to warm flesh tones and some vivid shots of a small fair at the start of the film. There is minimal “pop” generated, even though black levels are consistent and shadow detail is acceptable.
You’ll be immersed from the beginning of this DTS-HD effort, the roar of some flames from a burning church engaging the subwoofer for the first and only time of this subdued romantic clunker. The surrounds are barely notable here, moving into the lively fair that produces some ambient screams and chatter as guests move about.
Anything left, beyond the clean, pure dialogue, is left solely to the music. Highs are wonderful in this regard, producing exceptional clarity from piano keys to guitar strings. A barely notable low-end presence is generated from the score as well, in balance with the rest of the mix. It’s perfectly suited to the nature of the film.
A commentary from director Julie Anne Robinson and producer Jennifer Gigbot is optional over the film, and through five deleted scenes, the latter running a bit over seven minutes. An alternate opening is included sans commentary. A fun set tour has young Bobby Coleman chatting with the crew, this followed by a music video, and the making of said video. Trailers are left.