Monday, November 1, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 39.8 GB
Film Size: 29.3 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 9th, 2010
Region: ABC
The Video
Charlie St. Cloud releases on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film looks quite good in high-definition and certainly appears to be true to the source. While I thought the video presentation was good, I wasn’t completely impressed.

The film’s clarity is definitely nice; there is not a moment which will be confused with DVD. Detail levels are satisfying if not great, but they do vary from scene to scene. Colors are very pleasing to the eye and black levels are solid.

There are a few soft scenes throughout the film however which aren’t as detailed and make the presentation feel a bit uneven as a whole. This is not a technical issue; it just appears to be the way the film was shot. The presentation was given a very healthy encode with no crushing or other technical issues noticed.

Overall the Blu-ray release looks good. Unfortunately I do not have a DVD to compare the release to, but I am sure it wouldn’t compare considering the level of clarity in each scene. The presentation didn’t always impress me, but I do think the presentation is accurate and healthy. 8/10.

The Audio
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has included an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track as the lossless option. Also included are Spanish and French 5.1 DTS tracks as well as a DVS (Descriptive Video Service) track. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish and French.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track included on this release is surprisingly impressive. The film is a mix of genres and benefits nicely from the lossless mix. Dialogue is presented crisp and clear, and not always front and center.

The film’s surround use moments are especially strong when present, moments in which I actually thought sounded neat. There are notable moments when sailing (particularly towards that end) that flood the surround speakers with the sounds of the roaring waves and windy weather.

There was also a notable moment in which Charlie St. Cloud has many different voices going through his head; we definitely get a great sense of this with the traveling surround use that definitely added to the film experience.

Overall I was very surprised by the quality. I definitely expected nice clarity in dialogue, but I wasn’t sure on whether surround use would be immersive or front heavy. The film does have some front heavy moments, but considering the film itself I think the mix worked wonderfully with the scenes. 9/10.

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Director Burr Steers.

Deleted Scenes (10:28) (HD)
Seven deleted scenes are included and feature optional commentary by Director Burr Steers.

On Location with Zac Efron (12:43) (HD)
This feature includes plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from the set of the film. Fans of the film will certainly enjoy this feature.

Zac Efron, Leading Man (7:08) (HD)
Director Burr Steers talks about working with Zac Efron on ’17 Again’ and continuing to remove him from his ‘High School Musical’ image. Zac Efron definitely does a great job in the film and I do think the role will help him transition to more adult roles. Plenty of high-def behind-the-scenes footage is included, very nice.

The In-Between World (10:01) (HD)
Zac Efron talks about the many different ways the film could be perceived, since it is a mix of genres. The film’s director and producer back that statement as well. It is interesting, but personally this decision makes the film feel so much more unbalanced than balanced.

My Scenes
Save your favorite scenes and return to them later.

What’s New! (Powered by BD-Live)
Check out the latest trailers and more.

Bonus Movie (Powered by BD-Live)
Choose between ‘What Dreams May Come’ and ‘Lorenzo’s Oil.’ Internet connected Blu-ray players have access to a bonus movie via BD-Live and pocket BLU. The offer expires 6/30/11 and subject to change.

The features included on the Blu-ray release are actually all very good. The featurettes are all entertaining and informative, and the BD-Live bonus movie should be cool for those who use it. I do think this is one film which should have been released as a combo pack, including a DVD and possibly Digital Copy of the film. Unfortunately that is not the case, but at least the extras included are good. 6/10.

The Movie
Charlie St. Cloud’ is a film I did not see during its theatrical release, though I remember the television promos well. The majority of the promos featured the hit song of the summer ‘Airplanes’ by B.O.B. featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore.

I’ve always thought of Zac Efron as a good actor, despite being famous for roles which didn’t require much talent. Zac Efron stars as Charlie St. Cloud and provides one of the better performances of his short but respectable career.

The film is a drama with some romance thrown in to appeal to the many teenage girls who I am sure have seen this or plan to see this. I went into the film with an open mind; I hadn’t read reviews on the film nor heard much from those who did see it, I also never read the novel.

‘Charlie St. Cloud’ starts off quite strong, we get a sense of the relationship between Charlie and his younger brother who are basically known as the St. Cloud boys. The film quickly turns to tragedy in what could have been a very good film, but ultimately fails to deliver.

The story is fairly unique in nature, but the storytelling and editing just didn’t make sense to me. The film doesn’t need to have a genre, but it felt all over the place in what it was trying to be. The film is a drama, but ventures into mysterious, adventurous, romantic and supernatural (or mentally unstable) moments.
Watching the extras on the Blu-ray release I found it interesting to learn that the film can be perceived in different ways as to what is happening with Charlie St. Cloud. Regardless, I just found the whole experience quite bland in retrospect.

I did enjoy the film as I was able to watch it from beginning to end without checking the time. The film wasn’t awful, but to me it definitely lacks replay value. The story while initially interesting quickly becomes mediocre and slightly confusing.

Fans of Zac Efron will likely enjoy the film for his performance alone, which is definitely impressive. The story is muddy, but there have definitely been worse teen targeted dramas. Zac Efron definitely saved the film from being a complete mess; I didn’t think I would ever be saying that.

I think the film will find some fans on home video, but I am not one of them. The film is certainly watchable, but I don’t see myself revisiting the film anytime soon. Thinking back on the film, the words that come to me quickest are ‘bland’ and ‘forgettable.’ The story could have been great, but it goes into too many directions and fails to deliver the emotional impact you could tell it wanted. 5.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘Charlie St. Cloud’ is a forgettable film with strong performances. The Blu-ray release is great, featuring a beautiful video and audio presentation. The extras included are also enjoyable. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Recommended’ to fans of the film. If you are new to the film but curious, I would recommend that you ‘Rent It’ first.

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