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Charlie St. Cloud (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 22 November 2010
Image"Charlie St. Cloud" is the next evolution of a Nicholas Sparks' book-to-film adaptation.  Actually, that's probably not true.  It is more or less on the exact same line.  The film lacks originality.  Yes, I am getting tired of writing that, but I will gladly stop when the film industry gets the hint and stops making the same films over and over again with different titles and actors.

This is a romantic supernatural film that isn't actually that bad for casual movie watchers.  While all the twists and turns are entirely predictable, it may actually make a great date movie.  Keep a tissue box on hand though.  Other than its predictability what drives me nuts is the paper-thin reenactments of the tragedies.  It is not to say the acting is bad, but the script is transparent and doesn't allow the actors to develop.

Another issue I have with the film is its pace.  It fluctuates all over the place making the audience struggling to find a foothold.  However, those that take the film for what it is will actually find several of the sequences engaging.  The film has its good and its bad.

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is a small town teen graduating from high school with a scholarship to college for sailing.  Charlie's little brother is Sam and he idolizes Charlie.  When a stereotypical car accident claims the life of Sam, Charlie can't forgive himself and finds himself giving up his life to keep a promise he made to his brother before his death.  Every day at sunset he meets Sam in the woods to play catch with him.  Of course, the deal was only for the summer, but Charlie keeps it going for five years, and with the ghost of his brother nonetheless.

Charlie gave up his scholarship to Stanford to become a caretaker of the cemetery at which his brother was buried.  Charlie seems happy enough with his life, but then Tess (Amanda Crew) enters his life, a girl he knew back in high school.  She has become a famous sailor and is preparing for her race around the world.
Charlie begins to struggle to keep his appointments with his deceased brother while attempting a relationship with Tess.  Of course, the script has to place Tess in danger in order to get Charlie to confront his past and move on.  So really the film is a love story that uses tragedy all around to bring the couple together.

All is problems and faults aside, "Charlie St. Cloud" offers some entertainment value that will surely capture those that are predisposed to romantic dramas and supernatural films.

The video transfer of "Charlie St. Cloud" is not that spectacular unfortunately.  The colors are lush and warm.  Sunsets on Puget Sound are terrific.  However, details are quite hit or miss.  Wide shots suffer from major softness.  While the image does retain a nice filmic quality, the inconsistencies make the viewing experience a bit jarring.  Edges appear to have been enhanced in some cases.  While there is no major artifacting in the image, there a few instances on image anomalies.  Shadow delineation is decent but many details are still lost.  Black levels remain consistent but are not as deep and resolved as they should be.  Fleshtones are the most accurate aspect of the image.  The contrast and brightness levels fluctuate a bit, but don't really impact the viewing experience.  On the whole this is an above average transfer, but it lacks the ultimate hi-def treatment.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is much more powerful than the image quality.  The LFE channel gets substantial use with the sunset cannons that are repetitive throughout the film.  Dialogue remains clear from beginning to end.  The rear speakers contain mainly ambience and enveloping material, however it is more aggressive than any other film in this genre that I have heard on Blu-ray.  While there isn't much in the way of discreet effects and panning during the film, limiting the immersive aspect of the track, envelopment is terrific.  The dynamic range only gets used really once during the film, during the car accident.  The frequency response is smooth.  You will likely find that this audio track surprises you with how good it is, especially compared to the video quality and the film quality.

In terms of special features the disc contains some standard material for the genre and popularity of the release.  There is a boring director's commentary track that will delight few.  There are about 10 minutes of the deleted scenes.  "On Location with Zac Efron" is a basic "cast speak about the film" featurette.  "Zac Efron, Leading Man" is about Efron's evolution from Disney star to dramatic role.  "The In-Between Look" is a standard making-of featurette.  Finally, there is a Bonus View movie, BD-Live function and pocketBLU.

"Charlie St. Cloud" is a must for the Nicholas Sparks' fans out there, but will leave many other moviegoers yawning.  The video quality is not so spectacular, but the audio quality will impress.  This is at least worth a rent.

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