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Notebook, The (Limited Edition) Print E-mail
Monday, 26 January 2009
ImageI know what you are all probably saying.  “How could you endorse this film?”  Well, it’s simple - it is actually a good film.  Try as you might to find serious flaws in film and be reluctant to enjoying the story, “The Notebook” is one of the best romantic dramas in a long while.  It has all the elements necessary.  The characters are lovable, the story is genuine and simple, and the scenery is beautiful.

“The Notebook” is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Warners also has “Nights at Rodanthe” coming up for Blu-ray release, which is a film also based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.  “The Notebook” tells the tale of two lovers that come from different societal classes.  There is nothing new in that part of the story.  It has been used numerous times in cinematic history.  However, the evolution of the story is wonderful.  The acting by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is fabulous.

Ryan Gosling stars as Noah Calhoun, a kid with no cares in the world that works at a lumberyard earning 20 cents an hour in the 1940s.  Rachel McAdams plays opposite of Gosling as Allie Hamilton, a girl brought up in a wealthy family, where every second of every day is planned for her.  Then one day this boy meets this girl.  Allie is at first resistant to Noah.  Eventually though, through their mutual friends, the two get to know one another.  From then on they are inseparable.  As much as they love each other, they also fight more than any other couple.  What ends up between them is her parents.  Allie is only in Seabrook for the summer, and her parents cut the trip short, as well as their romance.

Noah tries to write Allie, but never hears back from her.  So, after one year he gives up and joins the army with his best friend.  They head off to Patton’s regiment during WWII, where Noah loses his best friend.  Meanwhile, Allie attends Sarah Lawrence College and volunteers as a nurse.  It is as a nurse that she meets Lon Hammond.  She easily falls in love with him and they get engaged.  Meanwhile, Noah returns home from the war and bys the lake house to renovate. Of course, Allie gets wind of Noah’s venture and shows up on his doorstep.  They fall back into their old ways.  Allie must choose between the two men in her life.

The story takes place as it is read from a diary by Duke (James Garner) at an old-folks home.  He reads it to an aged Allie, who now suffers from a mental disorder.

The film flows nicely.  But, yes, I am a sucker for cute and lovable films.  After all, this was named as the best date movie of 2004.  Well done to the entire cast and crew of this film.

The video quality of the Blu-ray is a tremendous upgrade form the standard DVD release of the film.  However, the video is still far from reference material.  To an untrained eye, the video quality is magical and looks fantastic.  However, once torn apart, the transfer is not the greatest.  The colors are very rich, but appear a bit shallow due to a slightly overblown contrast level.  The greeens in particular appear too saturated.  There are some noise problems in certain nighttime sequences.  The first act of the film is the worst in terms of video quality.  There are numerous soft scenes where details are horrible and noise pervades the image.  Once the first 20 minutes have passed the quality gets much better.  Extreme background images are blurred, as are extreme foreground images.  The middle plane is very detailed however, and full of textures.  Rachel McAdams is a real beauty in high-definition.  The Blu-ray transfer does not suffer from the massive amounts of artifacting, banding, and noise that is present in the standard DVD.  The most annoying issue on the Blu-ray release is the extreme use of edge enhancement.  There is no need for this to be applied to the image.  However, you will see white lines circling all the objects in the image throughout the film.

 The Blu-ray edition of the film presents us with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track.  The track is perfectly suitable to the type of film.  The dialogue is clear and intelligible.  However, beyond that there is not much going on.  The surround channels have minor ambience in them, however the placement creates a null in the listening area, resulting in a lack of enveloping.  The music score is nicely panned across the front.  The dialogue is clear even in scenes in which the ambience is quite loud, for example the rainstorm sequence.  The LFE channel does not have much presence in the film, which is not unexpected.  Overall, this is a good romantic drama soundtrack.

This special limited edition of “The Notebook” comes in an oversized collector’s box.  So, unfortunately, you will not be able to add this film to your Blu-ray shelf.  I suggest getting a normal Blu-ray case to put the disc in is you want it to look normal on your shelf.  The Blu-ray contains all the bonus materials that were present on the standard DVD release.  There are 12 deleted scenes, which are interesting and actually add some things to the story.  There is a Director audio commentary with Nick Cassevetes, which is engaging and entertaining.  There is a second audio commentary with novelist Nicholas Sparks.  This track is not as engaging, but it does provide some original intention insight into the film.  “All in the Family” is a look at Nick Cassavetes career.  “Southern Exposure” is a featurette that covers the locations of the film.  “A Simple Story, Well Told” is a brief feature that covers Sparks’ works.  “Casting Ryan and Rachel” looks at the casting process.  Also available is Rachel McAdams Screen Test, which is cute.  Lastly, there is the theatrical trailer.

The Limited Edition of the film also contains a bunch of plush material.  There is a 46-page scrapbook and photo album that contains some wonderfully rich colored photos.  The book is what also houses the Blu-ray disc.  Below this book is a red envelope with a couple of laminated bookmarks and a sheet of stickers.  Lastly, there is a collection of envelopes and notecards.

“The Notebook” is a sappy movie.  However, it is a terrific sappy movie.  The video and audio quality are much improved over the standard DVD release.  While the Limited Edition release is a bit overkill and doesn’t have a good shelf-fitting case, it should be added to your collection – more for the movie than the video quality.

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