Dear John: Directed by Hallstrom

What has happened to the estimable director Lasse Hallstrom, three-time Oscar- nominee (“The Cider House Rules,” 1999; “My Life as a Dog,” 1985)? He can’t find any worthy Hollywood project to work on, and so he gets to helm movies like “Casanova,” which at least had at its center a vibrant star, Heath Ledger, and exotic setting, Venice.
His new film, “Dear John,” based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, is dull, static, literal, and repetitious. Having seen this disappointing romantic melodrama, the only relevant question is whether or not Channing Tatum, handsome and photogenic but lacking any discernible acting skills, would become a star, a heartthrob with young teenage girls.
As schmaltzy and predictable as “The Notebook,” the screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, was, at least it was well acted by the younger and older cast (Gena Rowlans, Ben Gazzara).  Moreover, it generated real erotic heat between Ryan Gosling and Rachel MacAdams, which made it a huge box-office hit and a hot DVD rental. In contrast, “Dear John” is a dead movie upon arrival.
In “Dear John,” Tatum plays John Tyree, an attractive soft-spoken Special Forces soldier visiting his father in South Carolina while on leave. Shortly after arrival, he meets Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried of “Mamma Mia!” fame), an idealistic college student from a wealthy Southern family, who’s back home for spring break. 
Representing different classes and cultural worlds, John and Savannah are nonetheless soul mates in other ways. At a chance encounter at the beach, the two are immediately attracted to each other. Their meeting turns into a whirlwind two-week courtship, and their feelings quickly deepen into an all-consuming, passionate love. Each finds in the other something they’d never known they were missing. 
When John is forced to return to his deployment and Savannah heads back to college, the couple promises to write one another. And that’s where the movie stops cold dead. Most of the narrative unfolds through a continuous stream of letters, not particularly interesting, which, unfortunately are read to us in their entirety.
Even so, their love continues to blossom and a deeply romantic love story unfolds. As time passes, John and Savannah are only able to see one another sporadically. John’s deployment overseas is extended, and Savannah’s life back home continues on. 
Predictably, Savannah is constantly worried about John’s safety, and John is torn between his dedication to his work and his desire for a life at home with Savannah. Against steadily increasing tension between their desires and their responsibilities, the couple struggles to keep their commitment firm. 
Also predictably, an “unexpected: tragedy strikes, forcing John to return, and provoking an emotional confrontation. The couple then needs to reaffirm whether their love can survive the odds and obstacles against it.

I am not sure that this movie is even worth seeing on DVD on a cold, wintry night; it’s truly listless.