A few films reviewed on this site raise questions as to why they’re being covered here, and I’m sure to many, this is a valid question. (We can’t help being film geeks, though, hence the breadth of what we tend to cover.) The same questions will probably be raised as to why we’re reviewing the DVD of this film, based on feedback from the review of the theatrical release.
Personally, I’m a fan of films of all genres and will go into most films with an open mind, and as well as being a contributor to this site, I’m a huge fan of it and take the time to read the excellent material the team of contributors provide. I don’t question what qualifies as being ‘geek’, as it’s largely subjective anyway.
Subject matter aside, I feel that some of the ill will directed at this film may be because of the past of its leading man, Mr. Zac Efron. I appreciate that it’s easy to be sceptical of someone who achieved his level of fame and adoration at a young age through something like High School Musical. It’s something I was aware of, but it didn’t interest me, so I avoided it.
However, Efron’s post-HSM work has impressed me enough to volunteer myself to review Charlie St. Cloud. I found both 17 Again and Me And Orson Wells highly enjoyable, and his performance in both show that he’s clearly a talented actor with genuine star quality who will, no doub,t go on to make a number of excellent movies in the future.
Sure, the upcoming slated films of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation and a follow-up to Valentine’s Day will hardly appease the geek crowd, but I think it’s worth giving him a chance. Don’t hate the man just because he’s handsome.
Efron plays the titular Charlie St Cloud, a young man with a future at an Ivy League school, on a sailing scholarship, ahead of him. However, when he’s involved in a car accident that results in the death of his younger brother, with whom he had a strong relationship, his promising future is left in ruins, as he finds himself unable to leave his home town, having made a promise to his brother that he would play baseball at sunset every day.
Five years pass and we follow Charlie as a caretaker of the goose-infested cemetery where his brother is buried, playing baseball with his brother’s ghost every day. Being unable to take to the water since the crash, a series of events lead Charlie to start living again.
As stated above, I have enjoyed Efron’s previous work and was interested to see if this would be another strong performance to add weight to the argument that he’s a strong acting talent. Sadly, that’s not the case. His performance is fine for the most part, but nothing spectacular.
There are even a few instances when his performance falls flat, such as when he goes for all-out anguish and when he has to deliver some of the cheesy dialogue. How much of this is down to the writing is debatable. There’s little evidence on display here that would add weight to the argument I outlined above. However, I would encourage people to check out his other work before writing him off.
The tone of the film is a little uneven, as it tries for tragic drama, with elements of comedy thrown in. But the comedic elements prove too distracting, as they fail to hit the right beats and seem at odds with the primary focus of the film. I haven’t read Ben Sherwood’s novel, on which the film is based, so can’t comment on how accurate an adaptation this is, or whether the comedic elements exist there.
There are small parts for Kim Basinger, who’s on screen for about a minute, and Mr. Guyliner himself Ray Liotta. I really struggle to see the appeal of this film for either of them, as their parts are so small and one dimensional that they’re clearly above the roles, despite their best years arguably being behind them.
To the films credit, despite some awful dialogue and bad acting from time to time, there are a couple of moments that save it from being completely predictable.
For the most part, the film looks great, even if there are a few scenes where the backgrounds are clearly fake. Kudos goes to cinematographer, Enrique Chediak, whose talents were most recently seen in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, for making an otherwise average film visually interesting.
So, ultimately, I would struggle to recommend this film, despite going into it wanting to enjoy it. There simply wasn’t enough of interest on any level to make me enjoy the film or to return to it at a later date.
The features place the focus on the film’s leading man with On Location With Zac Efron and Zac Efron Leading Man. The latter has those involved with the production proclaiming this film to be his passage into being a leading man. I don’t agree with that, but appreciate that they’re hardly going to say, “Yeah, he’s done better, but you know it’ll make mone.y”
There are also a few deleted scenes and a feature commentary with director, Burr Steers, which isn’t overly illuminating.
Charlie St. Cloud is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.
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