CHARLIE ST. CLOUD
Length: 1 hr 40 mins
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: AVC (@ an average 30 mbps)
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps)
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS (Descriptive Visual Service) 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: PG-13 (Language, Sexual References, Sensuality, Intense Accident Scene)
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Starring: Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Donal Logue, Charlie Tahan with Ray Liotta and Kim Basinger
Based on the book “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud” by Ben Sherwood
Screenplay by Craig Pearce and Lewis Colick
Directed by: Burr Steers
Film Rating: 1 ½/5
There are movies that can really touch an audience, that can affirm our connection to each other and a universal need to be able to grieve, move on, and learn from the experience. And then there are movies like Charlie St. Cloud, which simply cannot do any of these things, but which is trying so hard that it is truly an awkward experience to try to watch it. Filmed in some beautiful Canadian locations (and some New York locations as well), the film is centered on young Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) and his inability to move past the accident that killed his little brother. And therein lies a big part of the problem. Efron is likeable, good looking, athletic, and completely at a loss when it comes to serious acting. He is not aided by a script that makes very little sense – itself having been sketchily adapted from Ben Sherwood’s book about this character. There are a few moments here and there where we think the movie may be starting to get somewhere interesting (a barroom brawl where Efron is handed a pretty good one-liner, a moment where a character realizes they can only be seen by Charlie), but in each case, the movie makes the safe choice and backs off rather than really trying to mine the material. Similarly, the direction doesn’t do much other than stage the scenes in some interesting visual locations. The cast is all good-looking and personable, but no performances resonate. Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta show up for a tiny number of scenes, and effectively blow the younger cast off the screen when they are present – but that’s only for a brief moment and we are left with Efron and the subpar script for the rest of the time. For this kind of a movie, the lack of performance by script, director and cast is a truly unfortunate situation.
Charlie St. Cloud has been released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray this past Tuesday. The Blu-ray contains a high-definition transfer of the film along with a few extras, including some deleted scenes, three featurettes and a commentary. Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the Blu-ray disc, including pocket BLU, My Scenes, an online ticker and trailers, as well as uHear and a menu activator. As a special bonus for buyers of the Blu-ray, you can log in to Universal’s BD-Live with the disc in your machine and stream one of two movies for free: Lorenzo’s Oil and What Dreams May Come.
VIDEO QUALITY 4/5
Charlie St. Cloud is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer that is at its best when showing the beautiful locations used for the film. There are some great sunset shots along the water, and some beautiful photography in the woods and at a cemetery that reveal layers of greens and blues, and which show plenty of detail. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Charlie St. Cloud is presented in a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish. There is also an English Descriptive Visual Service track available. There really isn’t a lot to do in the sound mix – this is a mostly front-oriented movie, with the emphasis going to the dialogue. Occasionally, there are opportunities for more atmosphere, such as the bar fight in the middle of the movie, but the rest of the time finds the sound mostly restricted to the front channels.
SPECIAL FEATURES 2/5
The Blu-Ray presentation of Charlie St. Cloud comes with a few extras, but nothing of much consequence. The Blu-ray disc also includes via BD-Live the option to stream Lorenzo’s Oil or What Dreams May Come for free once you log in.
Feature Commentary with Burr Steers – This scene-specific commentary with the director reveals bits of trivia here and there (the opening sailing sequence had to be done without wind, a major boat prop could not be adjusted while filming – which resulted in CGI being applied to it., etc.). But he lapses into silence for much of the time.
Deleted Scenes (10:27 Total, 1080p) – Seven deleted scenes are presented here, with optional commentary by Burr Steers. One is noteworthy for being a single scene with Kim Basinger that didn’t make it into the final film. The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.
On Location with Zac Efron (12:42, 1080p) – This featurette mostly covers the location shooting of things like the opening sailboat race.
Zac Efron, Leading Man – (7:07, 1080p) This featurette consists of Burr Steers and the cast saying nice things about Zac Efron and his acting chops. Strangely, both Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta are profuse in their kind words about Efron and his acting potential – which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that neither were on the film for more than a few days, if that.
The In-Between World – (10:00, 1080p) This featurette covers the supernatural elements of both Ben Sherwood’s book and the completed film.
BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.
My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.
pocket BLU– The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps and social networking are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.
The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu. Further, when you first put the Blu-ray in the player, you’ll get a reminder about the BD-Live movies now available to you via streaming. Various trailers from BD-Live will appear when you activate the disc, including Get Him to the Greek, Robin Hood, Psycho, Back to the Future, and the usual Universal Blu-ray trailer.
IN THE END...
Charlie St. Cloud is a well-photographed movie and a good looking Blu-ray. It is unfortunate that the filmmakers were unable to come up with a better script or a stronger lead actor to try to make this work. Fans of Zac Efron may want to rent this, but I can’t imagine anyone else would.
November 13, 2010.