Blu-ray Review: The Longest Ride

By , Contributor
Even if you enjoy watching brave, studly bull riders at the rodeo, you're likely to end up a bit disgruntled as The Longest Ride inches its way through a 128-minute runtime that contains way too many plot detours. The latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, now available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox, didn't light the box office aflame this past spring. It's not terribly hard to see why. It's a present-day romance between Sophia (Britt Robertson) and rodeo stud Luke (Scott Eastwood). It's the story of Sophia being a caregiver to elderly, injured Ira (Alan Alda). It's a WWII-era romance between a young Ira (Jack Huston) and his main squeeze Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

None of this material adds up to quite enough to be compelling. Perhaps the multiple plot lines are more deftly juggled by Sparks in his novel. Maybe the different threads add up to a cohesive whole. But as handled by director George Tillman, Jr. (Men of Honor, Barbershop) and screenwriter Craig Bolotin (Black Rain) it feels like a tangled jumble of tangentially-related ideas. Luke has sustained injuries in the past as a result of his bull riding. He carries on because it's what he does, though it makes commitment difficult. He's reticent to get truly serious with Sophia because another serious accident might put him out of commission.

Meanwhile, Sophia learns about a lot about life and love as she reads the ailing Ira letters from him deceased spouse. The young woman and old man develop quite a bond (she and Luke had rescued him from a nasty car accident early on). The wartime romance between the Jewish Ira and Ruth would've probably been better off as its own movie. The modern rodeo stuff just doesn't blend well. Performances are mostly perfunctory, though it's hard not to feel sympathy for Robertson. She's been good in a number of movies, touted several times as being the next "It Girl" without really breaking through. She even managed to convincingly play a teen in this summer's Tomorrowland (the actress, at 25, is quickly aging out of these types of roles).

Whatever the shortcomings of The Longest Ride, there's no faulting Fox's technically-sound Blu-ray. Cinematographer David Tattersall (he shot all three of the Star Wars prequels; he knows his way around digital cameras) is acquitted nicely by the flawless 1080p transfer. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack is, if anything, a bit much given that most of the film is pretty talky. It sounds great, of course, including the Mark Isham score. Isham at least gets to flex his versatility with a score that shifts along with the timeline of the back-and-forth story.

Nicholas Sparks' adaptation fans should find some cool stuff in the bonus features. There's a director's and actress commentary track with Tillman, Jr. and Oona Chaplin (respectively). That same pair also provides optional commentary for the 20 minutes of deleted/extended scenes. There are also five bite-sized, "behind the scenes" featurettes that total just under a half hour. Nothing to write home about, but if you liked the movie there's a fair amount of extra material to wade through.

Longest Ride cover (308x380).jpg

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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