Category Archives: Movies

AAR Goes to the Movies: Safe Haven

[youtube][/youtube]This weekend I went to see Safe Haven, the latest movie based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. I hadn’t planned to see this in the theater because, well, I have a fundamental problem contributing to the financial success of Nicholas Sparks in any way. Sorry to those who legitimately love his books, but I’m loath to give the guy my good opinion because he has far more than enough for himself. But I needed to get out of the house, and Safe Haven started at the right time at the movie theater near my home, so I sucked up my righteous indignation and bought a ticket. At least I only had to pay the matinee price.

Did I get my money’s worth? Well, the movie did offer close to two hours of escape. Otherwise, I’d say it hit all the predictable points to mark it as a Nicholas Sparks original. In fact, let us count the ways.

The movie begins with Katie, our heroine, fleeing the scene of a crime, her hands bloody, her belongings stuffed into a plastic grocery store bag. After receiving some aid from a neighbor, she boards a bus headed simply away, a relentless police detective so close on her heels she barely escapes. Since I don’t want to give away a major plot twist, I can only tell you that, after watching the whole movie, I see now that this scenario includes a plot hole large enough to drive a train through. But I digress.

Katie de-buses for a pit stop and decides to stick around what appears to be a sleepy, seaside town in North Carolina (Nicholas Sparks point 1 – story set on the Carolina coast). There she gets a job as a waitress, somehow manages to rent or purchase a literal log cabin in the woods (where’d she get the money?), and meets widower Alex. Alex’s wife died of cancer a few years back (Nick Sparks point 2 – cancer kills somebody) leaving him with two adorable kids to raise.

Their love story ensues until, as you would expect, Katie’s past catches up with her. I won’t spoil anymore, suffice it to say that there was one tiny plot twist that I didn’t suspect until right before it happened. That particular reveal did answer a huge question that nagged at me from the beginning, but it also contributed to that gaping plot hole I mention earlier.

Without spoiling the movie, I can say that Katie and Alex do take a boat ride together, get caught in a rainstorm, and share a sweet dance together (Nick Sparks points 3, 4 and 5).

In all, the movie was okay but not something I’ll think about much after writing this review. Of all of the Nicholas Sparks movies I’ve seen, the only one I regularly rewatch and truly do enjoy is A Walk to Remember. I will fully confess here that besides the famous kissing in the rain scene, I didn’t like The Notebook at all, making me perhaps one of the few that feels this way. Safe Haven falls solidly in between my two extremes. If big action movies are popcorn flicks, I’d consider this entry in the Nicholas Sparks filmography a cotton candy flick; sweet but ultimately insubstantial.

– Jenna Harper

AAR at the Movies: Les Miserables


I have been waiting, and waiting to see this, ever since I heard they were doing a movie of the musical. Les Mis is one of my favourite musicals of all time – I practically know it by heart. Then, of course, after I saw the killer trailer (above), I nearly wept with relief that they (probably) hadn’t screwed it up. What’s my verdict? Read on.

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Honest Trailer

Came across Honest Trailers yesterday on YouTube.  While I haven’t seen the movie, I did think it was funny.  What do you think? Is this an honest trailer?


– Leigh AAR

Going to the Movies

memorial ribbon for batman Way back in 2005 my husband surprised my son and I with tickets to the midnight showing of Batman Begins. My son, only 10 and not allowed to stay up that late on a regular basis, was completely and totally thrilled. We were on vacation and as a result got to see the film on a Super IMAX screen. The experience was just amazing. Seven years later it is still a special memory.

By the time The Dark Knight came out our town had built an IMAX, so I took my son to a midnight showing of that movie as well. He was excited about being able to see both films on an IMAX at midnight and started talking about seeing the third movie the same way before we were even seated for the second one. Needless to say, I bought tickets for Dark Knight Rises back in June to ensure that he was able to see all the premieres at midnight in an IMAX theater. It was a silly thing to be excited about I guess but we are a family of nerds and movie buffs and this is the type of thing that makes us happy. In order to guarantee good seats Michael got there by 8:30 pm. He had a fellow fanatic seated next to him (duh) and the two were able to pass the time discussing all the films they mutually loved as well as their expectations for this one. Anyone who has been to a midnight showing knows this is not just your typical movie outing. The fans are beyond excited. Many dress in costumes. The atmosphere is festive and jubilant. Continue reading

AAR at the Movies: Brave


My love for Pixar movies has built very gradually – I was a relatively late bloomer, since the early ones didn’t impress my socks off.  But “The Incredibles” was a revelation, and ever since the new Pixar movie in June has become a must-see.  (I made an exception for “Cars 2″ – I’m not paying any kind of money for that.)  So when “Brave” came out this weekend, I made a beeline for Cineplex.  All in all, I’m not disappointed, but I’d definitely consider this one of the “lesser” Pixars.  I’m still waiting for Brad Bird to come back. Continue reading

Re-watching Old Favorites


While on vacation I had the chance to watch a couple of films that were favorites from the 80’s. Both are movies I loved enough to have seen multiple times, going so far as to own them on DVD. Both are films I haven’t picked up in at least (gulp!) eight years. It was funny the different reactions I had to each.

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AAR at the Movies: The Intouchables


This weekend, I saw “The Intouchables”, a movie that has, perhaps inexplicably, become France’s #2 grossing film of all time, and that finally landed in North American theatres this week.  I loved it, and I also think it’s a good film.  But I can also see why American critics have been alternately scoffing, miffed, grudging, and downright appalled. Continue reading