Tag Archive: family


With the introduction of Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five, this franchise cemented its place as a must see film among the summer blockbusters; something for die hard action fans. After the commercial and critical success of the fifth installment it left fans wondering just how Fast & Furious 6 would top it? The solution: add a tank, add an aeroplane, bring back Michelle Rodriguez and just generally up the stakes. So what of the result?

“Give them a reason to stay.”

Fast & Furious 6 struggles to find its feet for a while, it’s as if the franchise isn’t quite sure how to better itself or what direction to take. Is it supposed to up the ante with the action sequences or focus on the family side of things and Brian O’Conner’s (Paul Walker) newborn baby. As a result the two strands of action and emotion are ruthlessly combined and don’t quite pack the punch expected, leaving Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and, most surprising of all, Tyrese Gibson to help the film pull through and come out well on the other side.

Enter Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). As Hobbs (the retuning Johnson) reliably informs us, he has been chasing Shaw and his crew across 12 countries stretching over four continents. Right from the off these are set up as some big time criminals, meaning that Hobbs has to put a team together capable of catching criminals like these. And the only team good enough is led by Dom Turetto (Diesel). When Roman (Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) return there is no time for reacquaintance as they are introduced to their target and the real reason Dom has agreed to play for the law this time round: Letty (Rodriguez) is still alive.

“I can reach out and break you whenever I want”

Soon enough the slow emotional parts of the film are eased out and instead of being told “we’re a family”, “you’re a family” over and over again, the real action begins. The team find themselves in London, racing through the streets of the English capital (although how anyone manages to elicit an illegal street race through the center of London is anyone’s guess) and the fights fly. The pick of the bunch early on is seeing Rodriguez go toe to toe with new addition Gina Carano.

The cars get faster, the action gets better and the stunts get bigger throughout and appears to peak in the incredible tank sequence; taking out cars is one thing but when there’s a criminal mastermind manning a tank, firing a cannon down the motorway and not afraid to crush however many innocent people it takes, then it’s going to be difficult going. And just when you think the story is coming to an end it takes another turn…

“This is something we don’t do”

And you end up on what must be the longest runway in the world with Shaw attempting to flee via a plane and Toretto’s crew not having any other option than to bring it down! That’s right… taking out a flying plane with just a handful of cars and Dwayne Johnson’s muscles. The adrenaline pumping finale takes all the worries you had and politely tosses them out as you’re sucked into the exciting ending where the stakes are higher than ever!

The one thing the Fast & Furious franchise has lacked so far in its existence has been that a real defining villain has never really been seen. Shaw has all the makings of it: he’s emotionally cold, he’s as intelligent (if not more so) than our heroes and he’s physically able to hold par with anyone, as seen brilliantly in his brief fight with O’Conner. However, when you leave the screening not really knowing what the villain’s plan was all along, then something has clearly gone wrong. The potential was never reached with Shaw.

“Maybe the Letty we once knew is gone”

But if the post/mid/beginning credits teaser was anything to go by, Fast & Furious 7 will have the real villain it deserves.

My Rating: 7/10

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This week a trailer arrived for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief which was undoubtedly hoped by Hollywood bosses to be the natural successor to the huge gap in the market that Harry Potter would be leaving once his franchise came to a close in 2011. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief bears many similarities with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

A few of the similarities include:

– based on a series of fantasy novels.
– directed by Chris Columbus
– main protagonists are two boys and one girl
– ensemble supporting casts of big name actors/actresses
– the two main characters both find out they have a great destiny to fulfil
– a place where special children (wizards/demi-Gods) train but muggles/mortals can not enter
– in the end, both title characters are praised for breaking the rules

These are just a few of the most obvious similarities between the two franchises but is Percy Jackson an apt replacement for Harry Potter?

In a not very successful attempt to distance itself from Harry Potter comparisons the protagonist is made older than his twelve year old novel counterpart in Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief and the producers went for one of the most promising young actors around: Logan Lerman. Lerman had already appeared in 3:10 to Yuma, The Number 23 and Gamer among others before landing the title role in the franchise which is obviously very different to Harry Potter‘s three unknown actors in main roles.

You can’t deny just how special the Harry Potter franchise is: it has spawned fans all over the world, touching billions of people with its themes of friendship, family and good vs evil. There are so many things now associated with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and, in my opinion, there is not going to be another franchise like it in our lifetime. So does Percy Jackson even come close to that?

The short answer is… no. But it’s a damn good attempt! Lightning Thief is a fast paced introduction to this incredible world where Greek mythology still has a huge part to play in the existence of our world. Percy Jackson is a very likeable character played brilliantly by Lerman and supported by a cast including Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan and Kevin McKidd.

The story, although a little weak at times, takes the audience on a great journey and it becomes a film that is really well tied together. Some of the twists lack a punch and there is a bit of a lack of dramatic tension but the final product is a very enjoyable watch. The action sequences are really well choreographed, seeing Percy Jackson master his powers throughout the film instills a sense of fulfillment as well.

The Percy Jackson franchise is not going to span as long as Harry Potter nor gain as much success, but it provides something to fill the hole that the end of a franchise leaves inside all of its fans. There is a lot of fun to be had with Lightning Thief and I, for one, am looking forward to Sea of Monsters.

Wild Bill (2011) Review

“What did he want?”

“Shooting.”

The best line of the film in my opinion.

The main reason I decided to sit down and watch Wild Bill is because it is the directorial debut of Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher has always provided good performances in front of the camera (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Band of Brothers, Kick-Ass) so I was interested to see how he would get on behind the camera. And any expectations I had before watching were completely blown out of the water within minutes.

Charlie Creed-Miles is “Wild” Bill Hayward, just released from prison on parole after serving eight years for numerous crimes. Bill returns home to find his two sons Dean (15) and Jimmy (11), who he hasn’t seen since he got sent down, have been abandoned by their mother who has fled to Spain. A bond between Bill and Jimmy quickly develops, and Dean gradually comes around to the idea of having his father around. However, their domestic life is short-lived, when Jimmy starts drug-dealing for some local villains.

The story is set against the backdrop of the London Olympic stadium construction site as this is where Dean has been working in order to look after his younger brother. This setting immediately allows the audience to be sucked in to the world of the film and it brings a great sense of realism to Wild Bill.  The grittiness and realism of a working class family in recession hit London really helps the film stand out, especially as it is very easy to recognise several problems that the film brings up including poverty, family breakdown and the fall of society; something we, in the UK especially, can all recognise. Credit has to go to Fletcher and Danny King, the writers of the film, to bringing up these problems for all to see.

From left to right: Fletcher, Poulter, Creed Miles, Flemyng.

As Wild Bill Charlie Creed-Miles is brilliant. The character development is there for all to see and Creed-Miles portrays two very different sides to his character; the thug/prisoner/chav that doesn’t care about anything, and then the caring father trying to make an effort with his children, even if he does get it very wrong at times. But the real star of the show is Will Poulter who plays Dean. Poulter carries a great air of maturity and it is very easy to feel for his character thanks to the emotion that he brings to the role. There are appearances from other British actors that different audiences will recognise: Liz White (Life on Mars), Iwan Rheon (Misfits) Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), Marc Warren (Hustle) and even a small appearance from Fletcher’s good friend and colleague Jason Flemyng.

Wild Bill is wonderfully acted and is a true example of brilliant character development. Their are strong themes, a strong storyline and even stronger performances. I would argue that Wild Bill is quite possibly the best British film I have ever seen.

My Rating: 10/10.

UK Release Date: 22nd March 2013.

Stars: Bryan Singer (director), Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Ian McShane, Warwick Davis, Eleanor Tomlinson

Plot: The long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened, as a young farmer leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom in hopes of rescuing a kidnapped princess.

Jack and the Beanstalk is the latest fairy tale to be adapted into some modern war/adventure film, following in the footsteps of Snow White and the Huntsman and the upcoming Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters. Here we have the simple naive farm boy of the fairy tale transformed into some brave, giant killing soldier.

Being directed by Bryan Singer, who took the X-Men films into darkness before Batman made it cool, I am surprised by how much it looks as though Jack the Giant Slayer is being aimed at children. A lot of what we see in this trailer, the attempts at humour and even the whole aesthetic look, makes it seem as though the family audience is being targeted although how many adults are going to be prepared to sit through this film I’m not sure.

I’m not saying this looks bad though because I actually think it could be a lot of fun. I’m pleased to see Nicholas Hoult getting main parts in films these days and its good to see Ewan McGregor offering some comedy up. Jack the Giant Slayer does look incredibly CGI heavy but hopefully that won’t distract viewers too much and, from the trailer, it looks as though it won’t. This one won’t be a film for everyone but it could be a fun ride.

2013 will see the release of the sixth film in the highly commercially successful and highly critically criticised Fast & Furious franchise. Last week Vin Diesel uploaded some pictures to his Facebook account of him on set and these photos were met with largely negative response to people on the internet with people saying things like “oh look, Vin Diesel in a car, they’re really pushing the boat out for this one” or just simply “shit” etc etc etc. But really, what did people expect from the Fast & Furious franchise? And with every film pulling in great box offices so far and the latest instalment Fast Five being the highest praised and highest box office is there any need for all the negativity and is there any need for the series to be clamped?

It all began back in 2001 when producers decided to make a film about street racing clubs that use Japanese cars to race in New York City. And the first instalment, The Fast and the Furious, set the tone for what every other film that follows was set to be about; illegal street racing. And while these are just typical popcorn, mindless action films (up until Fast Five) is there really anything wrong with that? Actors, especially back in the 80s, have made names for themselves in making mindless action movies and what we have here is just an hour and a half – two hours of real escapist fun. The films aren’t made for the critics, they’re made for the fans and as long as the fans are out there the films will get made.

The fourth instalment reunited the original cast… if only for a brief time.

Whilst the series continues with 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when the rightful sequel arrived in 2009 with the original cast members all back together the franchise seemed to be reborn. Fast & Furious reunited Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez as well as adding new characters that would seem to become main players in the franchise from her on out: Gal Gadot and Sung Kang (the latter also appearing in Tokyo Drift). With Fast Five some more talent was added and Dwayne Johnson received high critical praise for his performance (and is it any wonder? He was brilliant!) and the series continues to add fresh acting talent with The Fast and the Furious 6 adding Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Joe Taslim. It was rumoured that Rihanna (excuse me while I throw up) was reported to be in the next instalment but thanks to scheduling conflicts (Hallelujah!) we are not being subjected to that torture and she is rumoured to be replaced by British pop sensation Rita Ora… interesting.

Various shots of The Fast and the Furious 6 in production

Anyway, it was Fast Five that was the real game changer. It seems that now Fast & Furious has finally reached it’s full potential. With Fast Five, the writers, cast, crew, directors, producers, whoever! had got a grasp on what was going on in the series and Fast Five showed that it was more than just mindless action. They allowed for real character development; it was great to see how much Dom Turetto had changed since his first outing in 2001 as well as Paul Walker’s former cop turned criminal’s relationship with Jordana Brewster’s character. The really disheartening thing is that, because people think the first few films are rubbish, the majority of people will not watch Fast Five and they are missing out on a real treat and one of the greatest action films of all time!

Yes, the acting isn’t always brilliant and the stories aren’t always gripping but Fast & Furious has never set out to be a contender for big awards in film making. For this series it’s all about having fun; fast cars, hot women, tough men, big action scenes and explosions. And when you watch Fast & Furious you can’t help but have fun. So people should stop moaning about the quality of previous films, sit down and watch Fast & Furious (2009) followed by Fast Five and prepare to be swamped in fun, explosions and at times surprisingly touching friendships. Embrace it.

 

 

How can you not want to at least watch Fast Five after that?

Babel (2006) Review

Babel is the third offering from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in his ‘Death’ trilogy, following Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Being a big fan of 21 Grams I was looking forward to watching Babel and had high expectations due to the amount of critical acclaim it received back upon its release.

Babel tells the stories of four different families in three different continents who are all connected by one tragic incident. But as much as Babel is about these families and their stories the stories take a back seat in order for Inarritu and scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga to develop and explore pivotal themes in human life such as death, communication and family. It is a good job really because I felt that none of the stories were really strong enough to stand up by themselves and all supported one another significantly. However, the story that takes place in Japan is a little less connected to the others and, despite arguably being the most interesting of the four stories, has little bearing on the film as a whole.

As well as the deep themes being explored it is also the terrific acting that makes Babel worth the watch. Brad Pitt is not a name associated with the phrase ‘terrific acting’; yes he is a bankable name and yes he is world famous but he’s never been the best actor around but Babel sees Pitt put in a really emotional performance and is definitely one of his best to date. The real stand out performance for me was, again, in the Japanese story. Rinku Kikuchi as Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute Japanese schoolgirl, is incredible. This is genuinely one of the best performances I think that I have ever seen, it is so compelling and just layered with intrigue that it is not a performance soon forgotten. It’s a whole international effort with stellar performances coming from actors and actresses of all nationalities including Adriana Barazza, Elle Fanning, Mohamed Akhzam and Gael Garcia Bernal. But any Cate Blanchett fans thinking of watching Babel I probably wouldn’t bother. She is on the front of the DVD case and her name is one of the most well known of the cast but she is barely in it and after her first scene she barely even speaks or moves.

As you might well expect the direction from Inarritu is flawless. Babel is not one of the strongest films I have ever seen but it is up there with the most beautiful. Inarritu clearly has a talent for his craft and this is nothing less than perfection in his directing of the film. Every single shot is well thought out and every single detail is covered. It is his performance as director that makes Babel what it is.

For all of it’s good points, as I mentioned earlier none of the stories are really that strong. It is hard to gain an emotional connection to any of the characters when you are being flown across the globe and back again to get all of these different stories flying at you. And for all the good acting and brilliant directing that is something that I could not look past. The writing needed to make the characters easier to connect with for the audience.

My Rating: 6/10.

Back in 2008, I don’t think anybody ever expected Taken to be as big as it became. I would say that Taken is probably one of the most popular films that has been made for years. It is very very rare that you find someone who hasn’t actually seen the first film and it is even rarer that you find someone that has seen it and disliked it. So it then becomes clear to those in charge that it makes very good business sense to make a sequel to the best action film of the century, no matter how much of a disappointment it is going to be.

The first problem that arises is the fact that there is absolutely NO need for a sequel whatsoever. When Taken first came out nobody at all was hoping for a sequel because Taken is a stand alone film; it has a beginning, a middle and an end (a ridiculous end in which the need for Holly Valance to reappear was thought up by some idiot behind a desk somewhere and it was very awful). The end ties up all stories nicely for Bryan Mills and his daughter and wife and everything is back to normal. So how do we come up with an idea for the second film?

Easy. Let’s just do the same thing again. However, this time it comes with a twist because it is not Maggie Grace’s character that gets taken, this time it is Liam Neeson himself: a man who single handedly brought down a whole gang of human traffickers manages to get himself and his wife taken and that would NEVER happen to the Bryan Mills of the first film. Anyway, that means (as Liam Neeson said in this interview) “a sack’s been put over my [Neeson’s] head and I’m in the middle of a fucking dungeon!”. And this is where the real problem starts.

Neeson’s speech in Taken became one of the most famous in movie history.

What is the joy of watching Taken? I will answer that question for you right now: the joy of watching Taken is seeing Liam Neeson beat up a load of bad guys. It’s that simple. All we want to see when we watch Taken is Liam Neeson fighting, kicking and punching his way through the city to save his daughter. Nobody really is bothered about the characters, I bet hardly anybody would be able to name the bad guy in Taken, or Neeson’s wife or daughter, and not everyone even knows who Neeson’s character is! The point is that none of this matters because we all just want to watch Liam Neeson kick ass! This isn’t going to happen if he’s sat in the middle of a dungeon, we don’t want him to tell his daughter how to save him and his wife, we want to see HIM save people!

Taken 2 currently has an 8.4 (and dropping) rating on IMDB although this is obviously down to fans of the first film giving it a high rating just because “it’s Taken, it’s bound to be good” even though it’s not even out yet anywhere but Hong Kong (where it only opened two days ago!). On Rotten Tomatoes Taken 2 has a 7% approval rating and I think this would be more akin to the kind of film it is.

As a stand alone film Taken 2 may be good (this is of course all speculation as I am yet to watch Taken 2 and no matter if I think it is going to be good or bad I will be going to watch it because I, like so many other people, enjoyed Taken a lot) but as a sequel to one of the hottest action films to come out of the 21st Century, I have my doubts.

A Study in Terror is not the type of film I would usually watch; the only time I ever really watch films from as far back as the sixties is when I go round to my grand parents’ house and my Grandad has Channel 5 on on a Sunday afternoon (which is usually a standard John Wayne film). However, this one caught my attention as it puts together two of the most intriguing characters in British history: the great detective Sherlock Holmes and the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper.

This particular drama tells the story of Sherlock Holmes (John Neville) and Dr. John Watson (Donald Houston) who’s interest is peaked in the Whitechapel prostitute murderers when they receive an intriguing package through the post. And once in Whitechapel Holmes uses those famous skills of deduction to uncover, track down and apprehend Jack the Ripper who is loose on the streets.

In my opinion, the most important thing in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation is that the relationship is portrayed correctly by the two main actors and in this sense, it really is. You get sense of the friendship, comradery and respect that the two men have for one another although the homoerotic undertones of their relationship is scrapped from A Study in Terror (something Guy Ritchie’s most recent films have had fun with). Neville and Houston speed up the pace of the film once they arrive in London and it is much needed after a slow start; their dialogue is well written and well delivered even though it seems like most of it is Watson just asking Holmes how he figured something out and then Holmes just detailing how much smarter he is than everyone else over and over again.

Their are appearances from other Arthur Conan Doyle characters which is a nice turn up with Inspector Lestrade (Frank Finlay) and Mycroft Holmes (Robert Morley) showing up. It is interesting to see these fiction characters mixed up in real events with a young Barbara Windsor playing Annie Chapman, a real life victim of Jack the Ripper. Although when her character gets killed off their is a little part of you that is pleased because it means you don’t have to hear her squeaky, really really annoying, mouse-like voice any more!

And speaking of the killings, those are the most intense parts of the movie. For a film that was made in the 60s the violence is awfully real and the murders by Jack the Ripper are really quite horrible, with the fight scenes also feeling rather realistic so hats off there. Unfortunately though, the period of production does show through with the over the top acting and the really melodramatic feel to it all which is a flaw to a great concept. The murder mystery element is handled averagely as well, with twists and turns coming late on but some are rather too obvious to cause any great sense of revelation and it feels as though, at times, A Study in Terror is trying to feed you clues without actually wanting to. It’s all very conflicted.

Overall, a great idea with good characters at the centre of the piece but sometimes a bit slow and dull unfortunately. Worth a watch on a rainy afternoon if there is nothing else on.

My Rating: 5/10.

A VERY happy Mr. James Marsden

James Marsden is a recognisable face in the world of movies. Marsden has been in some very popular films of a couple of genres so it strikes me that he is not more famous than he is, but there is a very good reason (or very bad, depending on how you look at it) as to why his career hasn’t quite reached the heights that I thought it would earlier in his career. This reason is the cause of the title for this post and all will become clear in a few minutes.

James Paul Marsden began acting in the 1990s and his career began like so many others, with bit part appearances here and there in a number of, what can only be deemed unsuccessful, television shows. Luckily, in 1996 Marsden landing a lead role in family drama TV series Second Noah and this ran for two seasons, with a further three final episodes being commissioned after fan campaigns. After the shows cancellation Marsden moved into films; after a couple of made for television movies he appeared in Disturbing Behaviour alongside Katie Holmes (the film didn’t do very well) and then Gossip which only made half of its budget back and again failed. After this start it’s a wonder Marsden made it as big as he has done, but he could have been bigger. Here’s what happened…

In the year 2000, after the success of Blade, a movie was being made out of another popular Marvel property. It was of course, the best superhero team of all time, the X-Men. And James Marsden was cast in the role of Scott Summers, or as he is more popularly known Cyclops. This SHOULD have propelled James Marsden into a huge Hollywood star, should being the most important word here. Anyone who knows anything about the X-Men knows that Cyclops is the rightful leader of the X-Men. However, this was a characteristic drastically overlooked during the X-Men films (although this was the only real complaint I have about the first two films, the third is a different kettle of fish altogether). So really, Cyclops and James Marsden should have taken centre stage in one of the most successful trilogies of all time and would have rightfully become a household name; the unfortunate truth is that unless you take a real interest in the X-Men films or make a habit of watching romantic comedies, you probably won’t know who he is. Why? Simple.

Wolverine. The popularity of Wolverine among comic book fans is very rarely matched by another character and it is for this reason that in all three of the X-Men films featuring James Marsden Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine took centre stage. This forced the character of Cyclops into the background and he became a bit of an unimportant character, seemingly his only function was to marginally get in the way of Wolverine and Jean Grey’s romance and he didn’t even do that well. You can’t blame James Marsden for taking the part as leader of the X-Men but surely he would have hoped for a more heroic role in the films before tragically being sort of (I still don’t believe he actually died) killed off in X-Men: The Last Stand.

The reason for Cyclops disappearing in X-Men: The Last Stand was because James Marsden had taken a part in Superman Returns, another film in which he had a relatively small and unimportant part, there again to have his on screen ruined by the main hero of the piece (he does get a bit of bad luck this James Marsden chap) and of course Superman Returns disappeared into comic book movie obscurity rather unsurprisingly as it was very dull. But aside from comic book movies James Marsden has mainly stuck to romantic movies. He had a role in arguably one of the most popular films of all time – The Notebook. He has also starred in romantic comedies such as 27 Dresses and Sex Drive; the musical Hairspray; the fantasy half animated-half live action Enchanted and a film some critics called the worst of all time The Box.

This year, Marsden made a successful move back to television with a role in comedy 30 Rock although his time on television this time looks set to be short lived with 2013 having quite a few films slated for release with James Marsden attached. There’s dramedy As Cool As I Am, thriller The Loft, Enchanted 2 is in the pipeline to be made in the next couple of years. Perhaps the most exciting movie James Marsden is attached to at the minute though is something I am very much looking forward to and is a shoe-in for a few Oscar nominations when it is released. This is The Butler about the life of Cecil Gaines who served as White House butler to eight American presidents over three decades. The cast is full of real Hollywood stars and emerging talent: James Marsden, Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman, Robyn Williams, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Minka Kelly, John Cusack,  Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber and Lenny Kravitz. James Marsden will be playing the great John F. Kennedy himself.

With The Butler, James Marsden has the chance to get the recognition he deserves and reach the heights of fame that he should have done a decade or so ago. If the films had been more true to the comic books with the X-Men then James Marsden would already have achieved so much more than he has. Of course, this isn’t to say that his career has been a washout because he has still had it pretty good; but if X-Men didn’t focus so much on Wolverine it could have all been so different for James Marsden. He never looks disappointed though, I’ve never seen a picture of him without a smile on his face!

James Marsden on set as John F. Kennedy – he’s either blinking or sneakily checking out Minka Kelly… you decide.

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was a best selling novel when it was released back in 2004 and as is the trend these days it was soon made into a film. Charlie St. Cloud tells the story of the title character trying to come to terms with the death of his younger brother until he ultimately must make the choice between keeping a promise to his dead brother or saving the life of a girl that he feels very strongly for. The official synopsis calls it a gift that Charlie can see his deceased brother in the forest but I’m not sure that’s what I would call it, it seems more like a curse not being able to get over the grief or the guilt of such a tragic event happening.

Zac Efron takes the main role as the pretty much perfect guy: he loves and really cares for his mum, he has a very strong bond and friendship with his little brother, he’s one of the best young sailors in the country and has a scholarship to university, he’s got good friends and pretty much his pick of the girls. It’s easy to cast a pretty boy in this type of role but the storyline requires some acting talent too and Efron may have his doubters but I think that he is actually a pretty good actor (he just gets tarnished as rubbish by people who don’t like High School Musical without basing their opinions on anything else). His performance here is pretty good and he gives you a real sense of conflict inside his mind. Charlie Tahan is acting way beyond his maturity in the role of Charlie’s dead little brother Sammy. This duo is supported by Tess Carroll and the surprisingly funny Augustus Prew: there are small appearances from Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta and Dave Franco (complete with the unmistakeable Franco smile).

The opening scene shows Charlie and his brother winning a sailing competition and while it does little to get the adrenaline pumping it sets up the story nicely and the next twenty minutes or so help to build up the sense of brotherhood, friendship and respect that the two brothers share. The death of Sammy wasn’t actually the most emotional part of the film. I felt that Charlie’s trips to see his brother in the forest were very touching and really nicely dealt with and really showed the conflict and guilt that Charlie was suffering from inside his head while he wouldn’t let anybody else know about it. His relationship with Tess seems to move pretty quickly which is understandable once you have seen the film all the way through.

The big twist comes about two thirds of the way through and while it isn’t quite as big as The Sixth Sense, which is obviously had some effect on making this film, it is still a good and pretty powerful one I thought. However, I don’t think the film dealt with the twist as well as it could have done and the third act unfortunately lets the film down after a very promising first two acts. The ending is pretty corny as you would expect from a romance film aimed at teenage girls because corny and cheesy sells so well that studios don’t feel the need to do anything else any more.

Saying that though, I really enjoyed Charlie St. Cloud and would certainly watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10.