It’s been a month since I reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie. This gave me a good excuse to watch and review Love at Sea! When I found out the movie’s plot would take place on a cruise ship, I immediately became excited for the film’s arrival! Hallmark does not often incorporate cruises into their movies. The only other Hallmark movie that featured a cruise in their film’s plot was The Mystery Cruise. If you read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, you would remember that The Mystery Cruise was placed in the Top 5 (that’s how much I didn’t like that film). For Love at Sea, however, I watched the movie with an open mind and hoped for the best. Did this movie swim with success or sink with a low score? Hop on board and set sail to my review of Love at Sea!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I thought the acting in Love at Sea was fine. The performance that really impressed me was Carlos PenaVega’s! The role that he was given felt like it was the right fit for his acting abilities, highlighting his acting skills and helping him shine as much as possible. Carlos’ portrayal of Tony felt believable, his reactions and emotions appeared natural on-screen. Though this is only his second lead role in a Hallmark movie, Carlos has quickly become an important member of the Hallmark community. Carlos, from a talent perspective, definitely has what it takes to lead more Hallmark productions to come!
The incorporation of Royal Caribbean: Love at Sea was the first Hallmark movie that has ever been filmed on a real-life cruise ship. Because the story and film’s production took place on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, there was bound to be product placement featured throughout the film. However, the way the Royal Caribbean brand was incorporated into the film didn’t feel like Hallmark was trying to sell a product. Instead, it felt like the movie was making their audience aware of the particular product. There were only a few times when the company or cruise ship name was mentioned by any of the characters. While there were several items with the Royal Caribbean logo on them, they didn’t receive special attention and were showcased in a way that felt natural with what might be seen on a name brand cruise.
Carlos’ singing performance: Before Carlos joined the Hallmark family, I knew that he was a former member of the singing group, Big Time Rush. Prior to this film, I had never heard Carlos sing in a solo performance before. When he performed Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” in Love at Sea, I was blown away by how wonderful Carlos’ performance was! I hope that if Carlos is cast in another Hallmark Christmas movie, he gets the chance to sing a Christmas song within that film!
What I didn’t like about the film:
The miscasting of the lead: While watching Love at Sea, I could tell that Alexa PenaVega was trying the best she could with the acting material she was provided. However, there were a few moments where her performance felt more emotionally exaggerated than it could have been. It seemed like this was the result of the role not being the right fit for Alexa’s acting abilities. Alexa is a good actress and she has proven in the past that she, talent wise, has what it takes to lead a Hallmark production. But, I think this role should have been given to another actress or it should have been rewritten to compliment Alexa’s acting talents.
Lack of on-screen chemistry: In last year’s Hallmark Christmas movie, Enchanted Christmas, one of the best parts about that film was the on-screen chemistry between Alexa and Carlos. In Love at Sea, however, Alexa and Carlos’ on-screen chemistry was non-existent. Both Alexa and Carlos are good actors, individually and as a couple. But, I never felt like their characters were falling in love. There wasn’t any on-screen chemistry between Alexa and Edward Finlay either, even though both of them are good actors.
The plot: There were several issues I had with this plot. The first issue is the story surrounding Alexandra’s event. Whenever any of the characters brought this subject up, I found myself feeling bored and uninterested. Another issue with this plot was how confusing some parts of it seemed. I was confused with what Alexandra’s niche was supposed to be. Some of the characters in Love at Sea mentioned that Alexandra was a Youtuber, but I was having a difficult time figuring out why, exactly, she was well known. I also didn’t understand why an individual rising Youtube star, like Alexandra, would need to host a large cruise-wide event. An issue that appeared more than once in this plot was having events announced by one of the characters, but the event not being featured in the film. A good example is the anticipated cooking competition, where only the final results from this event were shown in the movie, despite the building anticipation for the competition for about half the film.
The under-utilization of the cruise itself: Love at Sea was not only the second Hallmark movie that incorporated a cruise into their film’s plot, but the first time a Hallmark movie was filmed on a real-life cruise ship. Because of this, there were several creative avenues this story could have traveled on. Carlos’ character, Tony, says that he likes making a positive impact on people’s lives and meeting guests from around the world. Unfortunately, the story feels so isolated and closed off from the cruise itself, that it takes away any chances for the audience to get to know and experience the various characters and stories that could have been included in this film’s plot. What would be interesting is a cruise themed movie with a storyline like The Christmas Hope, where there are multiple characters with interconnected stories.
Unnecessary side characters and subplots: As I’ve mentioned before, Edward Finlay is a good actor. In fact, I really liked Edward’s performance in Love at Sea! But it felt like his character, Miles, was placed in this movie just for the sake of being there. Also, Miles didn’t receive his own subplot. Two side characters that did receive their own subplot were Maeve (portrayed by Audrey Landers) and Wes (portrayed by William R. Moses), but it was weaker than the other plots and felt unnecessary within the overall story.
My overall impression:
Love at Sea was a disappointing film. Hallmark had so many opportunities and creative choices to make a film that was intriguing and memorable, especially when they had a cruise ship as a backdrop. However, they missed the boat (no pun intended) as well as all the possibilities at their disposal. I am always excited when Hallmark makes creative choices that are unique and interesting, so it’s disappointing when these creative choices don’t reach their full potential. As a Hallmark fan, I do feel that both networks try their best when it comes to making movies. But, not every movie on either network can be a winner. I am looking forward to Carlos and Alexa’s next Hallmark project, whatever that may be! All I hope is that their next movie is given a better story from start to finish.
Overall score: 5.6 out of 10
Have you seen Love at Sea? Are you enjoying Hallmark’s “Summer Nights” line-up so far? Tell me what you think in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!