Starring: Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages), Josh Duhamel (New Year's Eve), Colbie Smulders (TV's 'How I Met Your Mother'), David Lyons (Eat, Pray, Love), Noah Lomax (Playing for Keeps), Mimi Kirkland, Irene Ziegler (Nights in Rodanthe), Ric Reitz (Flight)
The movie centers around a young woman by the name of Katie (Hough) who moves to Southport, NC to start over. She meets a widowed man named Alex (Duhamel) and his two kids, Josh (Lomax) and Lexie (Kirkland). They begin a romance that is seemingly perfect until Katie's past catches up to her and she must decide to keep running or stay in the first place that's made her feel safe.
The movie starts off right away with suspense. You find Katie running through the bus station trying to get away from a police man (Lyons) and is successful. She gets off the bus when it stops in Southport, NC and decides to make roots there.
Some time passes, and she becomes friendly with the local store owner, Alex, and his two kids, and also her no-so-close neighbor Jo (Smulders). Jo encourages her to put her guard down with Alex and to give him a chance. So she does.
Alex and Katie begin to build a relationship, not knowing that Kevin, the policeman from the beginning, is still on the search for her and is stopping at nothing to find her.
Things take an unexpected turn when Alex sees a wanted poster of Katie at the police station. When he confronts her, she tries to tell him but he thinks that she is a murderer and walks away from her and tells her to leave.
Upset, Katie runs home and packs a bag to leave. Alex goes home and calms down and realizes that he needs to trust Katie. He goes after her and is able to stop her before she leaves Southport. He promises to protect her and keep her safe. That night, she tells him how she was able to escape.
Meanwhile, Kevin discovers where Katie is and decides to go after her, determined to bring her back and get their lives back to normal, but when he gets to her he sees that she's not the same woman that left him.
The movie based on the Nicholas Sparks book with the same title has been highly anticipated amongst Nicholas Sparks fans. Many of his books have been adapted to film and some have done extremely well (The Notebook and Dear John) and some are favorites amongst the fans (the previous two plus A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle).
This one, however, just may have fell short of it's mark. Safe Haven is one of Sparks's best books written and many fans were excited to see it adapted to film, myself included. I just don't think it reached the standard that I was hoping for. There were a lot of changes that were made (some I know need to be done because of the flow of the movie. But others were strange like changing Alex's daughter's name to Lexie instead of keeping it as Kristen). When I saw it the first time, I had expected more and was a little disappointed at the ending because it's so much longer and thrilling in the book.
With that being said, I feel that the movie in it of itself is actually a pretty good love story. The idea of a woman wanting to start over and unsure of herself with a man with two kids is a common conflict used in romantic stories. However, I feel the romance was a bit rushed. In the story, Katie is a lot more standoffish with Alex and unsure. In the movie, she almost immediately starts to go out with him. Perhaps if they showed some way of expressing that a lot of time passed since she got there and when they got together, it wouldn't have been so bad. They could have used the Boston scenes to set that up since they have seasons and North Carolina doesn't so much.
Acting wise, it was a very entertaining. Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough do have a lot of chemistry between the two of them and I think them being friends before the movie started actually helped. The best connection/chemistry I saw was with them and the kids. It just jumped off the screen and it certainly was the best parts of the movie.
Overall, the story is good and it has all the core elements of the book, but I wouldn't call it the best adaptation by any means. If comparing it to the other films, I would put it better then The Lucky One, but not quite as good as Dear John. What's going to help people to see this movie is that the loyalty of the fans, but a word to the fans, if you are expecting to see a close-adaptation to the book, this isn't it. Just go in and watch it for the movie and the story and try not to compare it to the book because if you do, you will leave disappointed like I did the first time I saw it.