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Seventeen year old Landon Carter (Shane West) has the life that any teenager would kill for. He's in the popular crowd, has an on-off relationship with a cute girl named Belinda (Laura German), and while he's not the leader of his little circle of friend's he's comfortable being second in command. Despite all this his friends have questionable intentions and use their influence and friendship as a commodity. One student wants to be in the group so badly that he agrees to jump off a rather high structure into a pond of questionable depth below.  After Landon is caught driving away from the scene of the accident he is forced to revaluate his life. The principal orders him to participate in the Spring Musical, as well as tutoring students on Saturday mornings. It's here where his paths cross with Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore).

Landon with his friends.
Jamie Sullivan is the polar opposite of Landon. She's the daughter of their small town's Reverend and focuses more on volunteer work, and her studies rather then friends. She's not exactly an outsider, but she doesn't fit into the same crowd as Landon, and prefers to spend her time enriching the lives of others instead of partying.  It just so happens that Landon's community service finds him close to Jamie who has taken a role in the play in addition to her participating in the schools tutoring program. Heeding some of the principal's advice Landon tries to make the best of the situation and befriend Jamie, who at first wants nothing to do with him. They finally start to make some headway when Jamie agrees to help Landon learn his lines for the play. However, it soon becomes evident that the chemistry and relationship they have will blossom beyond that of simple friends, and into a couple.  The romantic aspect of their relationship doesn't come easy as Jamie's father disapproves, as does Landon's mother. Jamie is a smart girl who doesn't fall for any of the obvious tricks. Once they are together they become inseparable, until Jamie tells Landon something that will test their bond.

Video
Warner Brothers takes us on "A Walk to Remember" with this anamorphic widescreen transfer framed at 2.35:1. The film is well shot by cinematographer Julio Macat, who brings a warm and lovely look to the small town of Beauport, North Carolina. The image has a nice amount of sharpness and detail is never lacking. The exterior scenes look downright beautiful and really give the viewer the sense that they are right in the middle of the action.  Interior scenes seem a bit softer when compared to their exterior counterparts, but things remain at a nice level. Not razor sharp, but certainly not overly soft either. The film's color palette remains largely subdued though there are a few instances for colors to shine, including the scenes at the play. Flesh tones are hard to judge as Mandy Moore's character was made to look overly pale in comparison to the other actors. There were a few things that troubled me with the presentation none the least of which was a number of dust specks, or marks on the print. Although these occurred only randomly throughout the transfer I was hoping the print would be in better shape considering the young age of the film. These became a bit distracting during an important scene towards the end of the film. Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum and no pixelation, shimmering or moire patterns are seen.  Some other reviewers have made notes about the transfer being overly grainy. I however did not find this to be the case. There is some moderate grain, but no more then what I saw during the film's theatrical run.  All in all a fairly enjoyable transfer from the folks at Warner Brothers.
Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore)
Audio
Warner Brothers presents "A Walk to Remember" in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and French), which comes as no surprise given the early 2002 theatrical release of the film. I saw the film theatrically on its opening day, and to be totally honest with you my impression of the audio mix was that it was less then impressive. I thought the primarily dialogue driven soundtrack was fine, though I felt the songs that fill the soundtrack, including three which feature Moore's vocals could have been mixed louder. The same feelings apply to this DVD edition, which accurately recreates the theatrical experience I had earlier in the year. "A Walk to Remember" is for the most part a dialogue driven affair, which is well recorded and mixed on this disc. I never had a problem understanding the words from the characters mouths even during some of the more emotional tense scenes where they spoke in whispers or screams. Sound effect usage is kept to a minimum, and after the opening scene is almost non existent.  The surround speakers do offer an adequate amount of ambient sound during the exteriors though this doesn't hold true for the interiors.  The musical aspect of the soundtrack sounds OK but lacks the added punch that I would have liked. I wanted the songs to really fill the room and have powerful presence, which is something that didn't happen. I'm not saying that the music sounds poor because it doesn't it's just not quite where I'd like it to be.  All in all the soundtrack suits the type of film perfectly, though if I had mixed the film the music would have been louder.

Extras
The first of two audio commentaries and the one most likely to become a fan favourite features director Adam Shankman, along with actress Mandy Moore and actor Shane West. I have to admit that the inclusion of the lovely Ms Moore on this track was a major selling point for me as I was on the fence about having this disc as part of my collection.  That left this track with some pretty big expectations that it met with relative ease.  The track doesn't really have a central focus or underlying theme, though for the most part it provides a lively, exciting, informative and often extremely funny behind the scenes look at the making of the film. Director Shankman along with Moore and West discuss a number of changes that took place to bring the rating down from a PG-13 to the more commercial viable (for their demographic at least) PG. Doing this required the removal of 36 separate scenes and some dialogue looping to remove some questionable words and thematic elements. All three seem to be having a good time reminiscing on the filming which took place in Wilmington, North Carolina, which is known for being the home of "Dawson's Creek". Shankman and Moore even joke about the number of "Dawson's Creek" sets in the film.  Technical discussion is kept to a minimum, although a fair bit of production information leaks out about how they achieved this shot or that shot, and how different angles of the same scene were shot on different days. Director Shankman also likes to point out the continuity problems that occurred as well as the times when someone (usually Moore) was caught cracking up on set.  Although I liked most of the track there were a couple instances of silence and the actors do tend to give shout outs to their friends in the cast though it certainly isn't anywhere near the level of back patting that usually occurs on these tracks.  All in all this is a very enjoyable track that I'm likely to listen to again in the future. Moore and West handle themselves well and come across as mature individuals, unlike some other teen actors I've heard on commentary tracks. I hope to hear from them again in the future on other projects.


Landon and Jamie
Novelist Nicholas Sparks and screenwriter Karen Janszen sit down for the second audio commentary. This track is more thematic in nature and deals primarily with the differences between Sparks novel and Janszen's screenplay. The discussion provides the audience with an interesting look at the process that goes on when adapting a favourite piece of work from its original form into another medium. From what I gather from talking with people who've read the original book, it was aimed at a more adult audience whereas this motion picture is clearly aimed at a younger audience. Sparks and Janszen discuss the additions, deletions and various slight alterations that took the very mature story, and made it accessible to Mandy Moore's core group of fans.  Much like the other commentary track they also talk about the material that was cut from the film and unlike the other track they do go into detail on some of the cut scenes. Another interesting aspect of this track was Nicholas Sparks discussing the inspiration for the character of Jamie Sullivan, which was modelled after his late sister. Sparks has a true connection to the material and the emotion comes across when he talks about the film. At the same time he's familiar with the Hollywood process and doesn't object when his work is altered. There are a few pauses throughout the track with a number of them appearing as the film reaches it's climax but for the most part Sparks and Janszen provide an interesting and fresh approach to a commentary.

Aside from the commentaries the extras are pretty sparse with only the film's theatrical trailer presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround 2.0 sound. The video for Mandy Moore's "Cry" makes up the remainder of this section. I did however really enjoy the Cry video, so I welcome it's inclusion on the disc.

What's not included are the 36 deleted scenes that were removed to bring the rating from PG-13 to a PG. Warner Brothers seems to be starting a trend with this release and the upcoming "Scooby Doo" DVD, as a news release for that stated that some of the deleted material from that film will not wind up on the DVD release. It seems as if Warner Brothers is trying to avoid including material that would have earned the film a higher rating on discs aimed primarily at young viewers. It's a shame that the 36 scenes are missing and that some more adult oriented material will be missing from "Scooby". Hopefully Warner will see the error of their ways and this practice will be short lived.

At the play.
Overall
"A Walk to Remember" is one of those rare films that has grown on me in subsequent viewings. If you asked me right after I saw it the first time, if the DVD would end up in my collection then I would have answered "Not a chance". However a second theatrical viewing let me revaluate things enough to give it a shot in the comfort of my home. In that third viewing I came to appreciate the film for what it is and not what I thought it would be. It remains a smart and mature film aimed at a group of moviegoers who seem to swallow just about anything aimed at them regardless of its intelligence level. I'm still not completely sold on the film but I enjoy it enough for a recommendation. Warner Brother's DVD offers a nice 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer reminiscent of the theatrical presentation, and an above average Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. In terms of special features we are given two nice audio commentaries. Each is different enough from the other to avoid being repetitive, and although it would have been nice to get the 36 deleted scenes mentioned in the commentary it just wasn't on the cards.  Fans of the film, the actors or the book will not be disappointed with this DVD. Recommended.


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