Safe Haven (2013)

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Released 19-Jun-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Deleted Scenes-Deleted and Alternate Scenes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Set Tour
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 110:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lasse Hallström

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Julianne Hough
Irene Ziegler
Jon Kohler
Tim Parati
David Lyons
Josh Duhamel
Giulia Pagano
Juan Piedrahita
Case ?
RPI ? Music Deborah Lurie

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Safe Haven starts dramatically. During the opening credits a distressed woman flees a house with blood on her hands. Shortly afterwards at the bus station she avoids the searching police and catches an interstate bus. The woman is Katie (Julianne Hough), and she gets off the bus in the quiet coastal town of Southport, North Carolina. She gets a job as a waitress, rents an isolated house and meets her neighbour Jo (Cobie Smulders), another woman who seems to be hiding something from her past. Katie also gets friendly with local man Alex (Josh Duhamel), whose wife had died tragically a couple of years before, and his two young children. Friendship and love between then grows, but Katie is seeing flashbacks involving a knife, blood and a body. Detective Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) is following up leads and a wanted poster showing a woman, who looks very like Katie, suspected of first degree murder arrives in Southport. Her past looks as if it is going to catch up with her.

     While it has thriller elements, Safe Haven is firmly in the romance genre, not surprising given the novelist and director involved. The film is based upon a novel by Nicholas Sparks (his novels Message in a Bottle, The Notebook and Dear John have all been made into films) and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose credits include Chocolat (2000) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011). Indeed, novelist and director had already collaborated on Dear John (2010) so this type of material obvious suits them both. And indeed Safe Haven ticks all the right boxes. It has a good looking widower with cute kids still effected by the death of his wife, an attractive woman with a dark past on the run looking for a new start, beautiful coastal scenery rendered in stunning colour by cinematographer Terry Stacey, romantic popular tunes on the soundtrack and fireworks at the end.

     Yet despite all these romantic, feel good elements, Safe Haven by constantly using flashbacks to the crime scene and the investigations of the police, plus some creepy musical cues, does add a sense of unsettling menace. For the first hour we are not sure just what happened before Katie fled the house with blood on her hands, then the first twist arrives and the film becomes more of a thriller until the final twist in the last minutes of the film. A number of viewers and critics have condemned as ridiculous the final twist, but I thought there is sufficient information in the film to set it up, and indeed I did see something coming, if not exactly. In truth, I did not mind the ending; if anything it enhances the romantic cred of the film. However, for a contrary view be sure to check out my fellow reviewer GarryA’s view of the Blu-ray here.

     Safe Haven is a well-made romance, a beautiful looking film with attractive leads and stunning colour location photography. If you are a fan of either Nicholas Sparks or Lasse Hallstrom, or both, you will not be disappointed by Safe Haven.

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Transfer Quality


     Safe Haven is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original theatrical ratio. The film is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is sharp with good crisp detail in both close-ups and wider shots. Colours are bright and vibrant showing the landscape and seascape of North Carolina to full advantage. Skin tones are fine, contrast and brightness consistent. Blacks are rock solid, the fireworks at the end looking spectacular, shadow detail exceptional. There was occasionally very slight ghosting with movement and some shimmer with the end titles but otherwise artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a largish white font.

     The layer change at 62:41 was at a scene change.

     A beautiful looking print, doing justice to the film’s visuals.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is choice of English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps plus an English descriptive audio for the vision impaired Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps by a female voice.

     Dialogue was easy to understand and centred. The surrounds were used for ambient sound, such as weather effects, insect and seabird sounds, and the music. It was mostly subtle but become pronounced during the fireworks and fire. The sub-woofer supported the score, fireworks, fire and some weather effects, such as thunder.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The original score by Deborah Lurie was effective and was augmented by a range of popular songs.

    A good enveloping subtle audio track that was loud when it needed to be.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     On start-up the following trailers play and need to be skipped: Beautiful Creatures (1:40), Silver Linings Playbook (2:20) and Goddess (2:24). They cannot be selected from the menu.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:49)

    The scenes are introduced by a text caption. They are: Katie in Alley, Tierney’s Eighth Arrest, Alex Puts Lexie to Bed with Animals, Katie and Alex Talk “I Liked That”, Tierney Survives plus an Alternate Ending. A couple of the scenes are interesting but nothing essential. The Alternate Ending adds nothing new but labours the twist rather much, and the one used in the film is better.

Set Tour (2:14)

    More a slight on location EPK with behind the scenes and film footage plus interview sound bites with novelist Nicholas Sparks and cast Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     As far as I can tell, Region 1 US DVD of Safe Haven includes the same deleted scenes, alternative ending and trailer. The Region A Blu-ray has these plus 3 EPK featurettes (14 min), as does our Australian Blu-ray. I have no details of the extras on the Region 2 UK DVD release. For DVD a draw.


     Safe Haven has been criticised for the ending, but I didn’t mind it. Safe Haven is a well-made, beautiful looking film with attractive leads and stunning colour location photography. If you are a fan of either Nicholas Sparks or Lasse Hallstrom, or both, you will not be disappointed by Safe Haven.

     The video is excellent and the audio good. Extras are limited, but there is nothing else on DVD in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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