Plot: What’s it about?
A few years ago a little movie called “High School Musical” hit theaters. Or maybe it was a straight to video title. Nevertheless, it inspired a sequel and the main draw of the first two films was one Zac Efron. Efron, with his pin up good looks became an instant teen heartthrob and there’s no doubt that he’ll have a long movie career in front of him. Efron has since graduated from the Disney films to some bona fide leading roles. His performance in 2008’s “Hairspray” showed that he’s got the triple thread in regards to talent (can sing, can dance and can act). Granted these aren’t as important as they were back in the day, but it never hurts to have people on the screen with genuine talent. What a concept, right? Since the “High School Musical” films, he’s headlined in only one other big budget film, “17 Again” with Matthew Perry. I suppose the less said about that, the better. But Hollywood has a short attention span and we’ve now got Zac Efron in “Charlie St. Cloud.”
Charlie (Zac Efron) has a bright future in front of him. He’s got good looks, smarts and a sailing scholarship to Stanford in the fall. However life has a way of throwing curve balls and when Charlie and his younger brother (Charlie Tahan) are in a car accident, his life changes. Charlie is literally brought back to life by a paramedic (Ray Liotta), but his brother isn’t so fortunate. However Charlie now has a gift in that he can see the dead, and more importantly his deceased brother. Charlie vows to meet his brother in the woods each and every night at sunset and play catch. We then flash forward five years to learn that Charlie is now the superintendent of a graveyard. He never went to school and his peers now have high-paying jobs in the city. He still meets his brother every night to play catch. However when an old flame is set to sail around the world, Tess (Amanda Crew), he figures that he might swap some ideas with her and will see if he can make something happen. Tess is set to leave and Charlie, bound by his agreement to his brother, tries his best to make something work. Will he or will he grow old holding steadfast to a commitment that he made to his brother?
The movie was based on the novel “The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud” and is pretty much tailor made for an actor like Zac Efron. I’ll come right out and say that I wasn’t really too fond of the movie. It seems intentionally trying to play on the audience’s emotions and while that’s sometimes a good thing; it wasn’t here. To be honest, this was more like watching an episode of “Ghost Whisperer” than a feature-length film. Now don’t get me wrong, the movie isn’t poorly acted and as far as supernatural films go, I suppose this one does hold some water. But the abysmal box office for this film ($30 million) shows that Zac Efron either needs to pick his projects a little more carefully or that he’s not quite the star that everyone thinks. I’m thinking the former. Fans of Zac Efron and his good looks will no doubt be in heaven here, no pun intended, but I’d advise a rental before purchasing this one.
Video: How does it look?
The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is stunning with plenty of aerial shots of the mountains and water. Detail clarity is superb, I could actually make out the grains of leather on the baseball in a few scenes. The color palette is fairly expansive as well, though with the graveyard and forest scenes, greens tend to dominate. Flesh tones are normal and contrast is on the money. I know I’ve said this before, but this is on par with a day and date Blu-ray film.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack also has its moments, but for the most part is an average, if not adequate, representation of the film. Dialogue is natural and warm. The ending scene in the storm has some very good moments and the use of surround sound and ambiance really does heighten the mood. Like the video transfer, this uncompressed soundtrack does have a few shining moments, but it’s by and large just over average.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Universal is usually pretty good with the supplements and we start off with an audio commentary by director Burr Steers. Admittedly the track is fairly boring and repetitive, though we do learn some information on the shoot, the adaptation and so forth. We get the expected behind the scenes featurettes and some that focus on the more spiritual aspects of the film. We have a slew of deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Steers. And as a bonus, we get to stream two movies via BD-Live “Lorenzo’s Oil” or “What Dreams May Come.”