Sunday, September 18, 2011

Love Begins

About the Movie (from the Hallmark Channel website):

"Clark Davis’ (Wes Brown) adventurous dreams of seeing the world are put into jeopardy after he and a friend start a fight which damages a local cafe. Through a plea deal with the Sheriff (Jere Burns) and café owner Millie (Nancy McKeon), Clark works off his sentence as a farmhand for the Barlow sisters, Ellen (Julie Mond) and Cassie (Abigail Mavity).

Older sister Ellen doesn’t understand Cassie’s friendly nature with Clark; she agreed to the Sheriff’s offer only because the farm has become too much to maintain alone. Clark is slowing winning Ellen over, but suddenly suffers a traumatic head injury in a fall. After Ellen nurses him back to health, her former fiancé returns to win her back. Will Clark travel on or stay behind where love begins?"

My Review:

The original Love Comes Softly was powerful - so much so that 7 sequels have been made (8 movies loosely based on the 8 books in the series), and now 2 prequels, as well. The first prequel, Love Begins, aired last night (Saturday, September 17th) on Hallmark Channel. (The second prequel, Love's Everlasting Courage, airs in 2 weeks on October 1st.)

The emotion and inspiration found in Love Comes Softly fueled the movies that came after it, but to be honest, I think the series is about out of steam. The first four movies directed by Michael Landon Jr. remain my favorite, although Love's Unfolding Dream has its own charm, too. But there seems to have been too much of a reliance on the faithful audience won over in those beginning movies and the overall reputation of the series. The movie quality of Love Begins is sorely lacking. A sweet romance, yes. A well-made and engaging movie - not quite.

There's room for a prequel or two before Love Comes Softly, in the sense that Clark definitely had a story before he met Marty. But then again, lots of characters from all sorts of movies have a back story - anyone who has made it to their adult years has a past. So there has to be a compelling reason to bring in a prequel to the popular original movie. And Love Begins didn't make a strong enough case for its existence to satisfy me.

When watching Love Begins, there's the sense that it's a modern movie parading as an historical. Not in the basis of the movie or the plot-line, but rather in the acting and the set/costumes. Perhaps the budget didn't allow for a more realistic feel, which is a bit disappointing.

Yet there remains the sweetness. Some cute moments offer some smiles, and the corny moments certainly offer a giggle or laugh (and some humorous commentary among friends). I can't help but wonder if some of the movie was cut off on T.V. due to the length of the commercials, though, because some parts were rather abrupt and/or not well-developed, including the quick reappearance of another love interest.

So what's the prognosis? Well, if you're a die-hard fan who has all 8 movies in the series (yes, I fit into this category), then it certainly can't hurt to watch the prequels if you have the time! Love Begins is not overly moving, but it's a sweet diversion on a Saturday night. (As an aside, though, I worry about how they're going to pull off the supposedly serious plot for Love's Everlasting Courage...)

If you haven't yet seen any of the movies, I might skip this one. Or if you do watch both of the prequels first, please don't miss out on the original Love Comes Softly, as well! I know these movies aren't for everyone, but if you enjoy inspiring prairie-style romances, then I especially recommend the first few or so of the Love Comes Softly series. Overall, I've been blessed by these clean, gentle movies, some of which I have re-visited in the past and fallen in love anew each time (particularly Love Comes Softly, Love's Enduring Promise, Love's Long Journey, and Love's Abiding Joy).

Movie Trailer:



Did anyone else see the movie last night? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

12 comments:

Keli Gwyn said...

Like you, Amber, I have all of the Love Comes Softly movies. The first is my favorite by far. Since I'm a long-time fan of the shows, I got excited to see blog posts about two more movies coming, but I'll admit to having been a bit skeptical. I doubted anyone could play Clark well enough to satisfy me after Dale Midkiff did such a stellar job in the role. We don't have cable, so I've not seen Love Begins, but from what you said, it sounds like my concerns may have been on target.

Even if these two movies aren't the quality of the others, I'm still eager to see them. I'm a big fan of historicals and want to see this series through. Now to wait for the DVD releases.

Laura Frantz said...

Hi Amber, So interesting to read your thoughts - all of which really resonate with me. "Sweet" is truly the word for this one but it didn't have much depth and I found myself filling in the gaps by wanting so much more. And you're so right when you said it has the feel of a modern movie. There were even some historical gaffes which had me scratching my head. I did love the hero and found him convincing though lacking in backstory, etc. Aren't I a terrible movie critiquer?! Not sure I even spelled that right. But I must admit, overall, I enjoyed the film. And I should add that I loved the character of Cassie! Something about her spunky, clunky character really touched me, maybe because I have a similar character like her in the novel I'm working on now.

I must say, you have a gift for writing reviews with depth and sensitivity, dear Amber. So happy to have watched this film with you;)

Amber S. said...

Keli,

Yes, there's nothing quite like that first movie. :) I was excited to learn that they were making two more movies, as well. And while I was hopeful that this one might be better than the 7th and 8th movies, I wasn't really too surprised that it wasn't very well-made. I think this young Clark was good, but you just can't beat Dale Midkiff - you're quite right about that! :) It was just a combination of things that disappointed me, but I didn't have my expectations set too high anyway.

I guess we'll see how the second prequel is... Like you said, if we've watched all 8 of the original series, we might as well watch the two prequels! After all, they're clean, sweet movies, regardless of quality. :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Laura,

Oh, it was so fun knowing that others (like you and your husband!) were watching this movie at the same time! :)

And I'm glad you agree! I really appreciate the compliment. :) I didn't have a whole lot of positive things to say about this movie, so I hope it was OK I still wrote this review!

Yes, there certainly were some historical gaffes... The word "crush" comes to mind. ;) But Cassie was really charming in her abrupt, big-heart sort of way. :)

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and I'm glad you still enjoyed the movie overall! Hope your anniversary was amazing!!

~Amber

Laura Frantz said...

Amber,
One of the things I like about your reviews is their transparency - they're so refreshingly honest! I felt the same way you did on every point you mentioned. And like you, am curious to see how they handle the very dramatic sequel to this one in a couple of weeks. Will be fun to trade notes on that one, too, if you have time:) Bless you bunches. And please don't ever be afraid you're negative - you're most certainly NOT!

Amber S. said...

Laura,

Awww, thank you! :D

I would love to trade notes on Love's Everlasting Courage! If I can reserve the movie room in time, I'll plan on watching it. ;)

And thank you again for your encouragement! It means so very much to me. :)

~Amber

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great honest take. I always enjoy these but you're right, they are best suited to the diehard film fans only.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oh boohoo and I was really looking forward to this one! Honestly the only Love Comes Softly movie that I can watch again and again is the first one so the fact that you thought this one wasn't that good really doesn't surprise me too much. Some of the things that you mentioned here about the acting and everything being too "modern" I felt about some of the other LCS movies, especially the newest ones. Thanks so much for the review now I feel not so bad about missing it. :-)

XOXO~ RENEE

Amber S. said...

Juju,

Thank you! Yes, they are sweet movies, but after the first one (or several), the movies are mostly geared towards the fans they've already made...

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Renee,

Yes, most especially the newest ones! OK, did you notice the fake baby in the 8th movie??? At the end, when they're near the stagecoach! I didn't notice until my mom said, "That's a fake baby!" Then we went back, saw the wide eyes, and laughed. Too funny!! ;)

I'm sorry you missed seeing this one, but I'm glad to hear the review made you feel a little better. :) I guess it's just left to be seen if prequel # 2 will follow suit...

~Amber

Michelle said...

I enjoyed your honest review, Amber! Like Laura said, you do have a gift for writing reviews with depth and sensitivity.

There is so much garbage on TV these days, that I always gravitate toward these types of movies. Like you mentioned, the first 4 of the series were my favorites as well. Overall, I enjoyed "Love Begins" and found it to be a sweet story, like you said. Looking forward to the next one on October 1st!

And since I haven't watched the original in quite some time, I'm suddenly in the mood to pull out the DVD and watch it again. : )

Happy Monday to you, Amber! And thanks again for sharing your thoughts on the movie.

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

Thank you so much! :)

So glad you agree with my overall thoughts - weren't the first 4 "Love Comes Softly" movies so powerful?? Love them! I'm definitely curious to see "Love's Everlasting Courage" in a couple of weeks! :)

And a couple of my friends and I are planning on watching the first "Love Comes Softly" this weekend - one of my friends and I were craving it after seeing "Love Begins," like you! :)

Happy Monday to you, as well, and thank you for stopping by!

~Amber