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Gnomeo & Juliet 3D(2011)
Garden gnomes Gnomeo and Juliet have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. But with plastic pink flamingos and lawnmower races in the mix, can this young couple find lasting happiness?
For more about Gnomeo & Juliet 3D and the Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray release, see Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 13, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith
Director: Kelly Asbury
» See full cast & crew
Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray Review
This Gnomeo ain't got Julie yet, but he's definitely getting this 3D Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 13, 2011
The story you are about to see has been told before. A lot.
Yeah, but it's never been told quite like this. Part William Shakespeare, part kids movie, part Comedy, part Adventure, part love story, part morality tale, and even part monster truck rally-type fiasco gone terribly wrong, Gnomeo & Juliet is a movie quite unlike anything before it. Sure there have been countless films that turn classic stories on their heads, and yes Gnomeo & Juliet seems like a movie created around a clever pun rather than a fleshed-out story given a clever pun as a name, but by sheer force of will it works despite having everything work against it. The idea is cute but could it really succeed as a feature film? These aren't talking animals (well, most of them aren't talking animals) but instead chipped, broken, worn-down, sun-baked, long-neglected garden gnomes, not exactly the sort of things that have a proven track record of drawing in the kids in droves. It's hard to see plush gnomes on toy store shelves, gnome-themed happy meals, or a video game featuring various backyard gnome adventures. It's a risky idea for sure (a sad commentary that today's film sometimes can't stand on their own merits?), and considering that the most catchy part of it all is the title, well, the movie had better be pretty good if it has any chance at success, seeing that the peripherals that so often come with kids movies don't really lend themselves all that well to marketing the thing. Fortunately, Director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2) has pulled it off, at least well enough that the movie stands on its own merits. This isn't a new classic or anything, but Gnomeo & Juliet is a funny, well-made picture with solid characters, a fair bit of adventure, and even a smidgen of heart, enough to win over all but the most demanding audiences and solidify itself as a worthwhile little 3D film that's suitable for the whole family.
Nobody knows how the feud started, but it's been a long and hard-fought battle. Two opposing sides -- the reds (Capulet) and the blues (Montague) -- tussle over every small issue, quibbling about this and that, the battle exacerbated by the fact that they live right beside one another, sharing a common structure they call home and a backyard divided by a fence and each side color-coded to ensure it stands apart from the other. Both the red and the blue sides are home to spectacular landscaping, highlighted by large collections of garden gnomes. These aren't just any old garden-variety gnomes, though: these are walking, talking, thinking, scheming, intelligent gnomes who are in a state of conflict with one another because, yes, some are red, and some are blue. They hold lawnmower races in the back alley, but all other contact is forbidden. When the red team, lead by Tybalt (voiced by Jason Statham, The Mechanic), cheats its way into a win at the latest lawnmower race, the blue team is fumed; star racer Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy, Wanted) vows revenge. He infiltrates red's garden with the intent of spray-painting it blue, but he's caught in the act and escapes in the nick of time. Upon his successful exit, he stumbles upon a beautiful young red gnome named Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria). It's love at first sight, the two seeing hearts rather than colors. Will their love fail because their colors say it must, or can their unlikely romance end a long-standing feud with no ground on which to stand but old traditions and "because I said so" hate?
Structurally, Gnomeo & Juliet isn't at all unique. The film is centered on the age-old tale of forbidden love, but the peripherals are all pretty much straight out of "The 21st Century Guide to Making Digital Family Films." There's a long character roster packed with unique individuals, and the film gets plenty of play out of the inherent limitations of the gnomes, some unable to move as freely as they would wish given the way they've been built with various attachments -- soccer balls, fishing poles, or even two gnomes stuck on the same slab -- limiting their ability to really get in the game, and the results of such little innocent restrictions are some of the most charming moments the movie has to offer. The film revels in the little games of freeze when humans come around, but when the coast is clear, it's all gnome, all the time, the diminutive little creatures making their respective backyards into both hospitable homes and dangerous deathtraps meant to thwart off intruders from the other side. Old feuds, outdated prejudices, misunderstandings, treachery, deception, distrust, and all sorts of other negative vibes are at work throughout the movie, but it's all handled with a playful attitude that doesn't make any of it frightening, but instead allows them to serve merely as a backdrop against which true love must struggle and conquer. It's a new spin on an old story, and that the age-old adage of love conquering all -- whether in the human world, the animal kingdom, or the little slice of a suburban backyard where fantasy is reality unseen by the human eye -- is at its center and shown to be true once again (though it certainly won't be for lack of trying to prove it wrong) is the only real thematic and emotional draw.
The world of Gnomeo & Juliet is visually amazing and the story is entertaining, but there's really not much beyond the surface. Sure the movie can be touching, heartfelt, and honest, but at the end of the day it's really just another in a growing list of kid-centric animated features that are funny enough for the little ones and just smart enough for older viewers. The film has plenty of adult-oriented gags up its sleeve that are superficially clean but that will hold a little more meaning for viewers who get the real story behind the joke. The entire film has tongue planted firmly in cheek; it knows its place and is content to refrain from venturing too far out of the norm, allowing the uniqueness of the characters to carry the film rather than the actual content, which is all pretty much made of recycled materials, only here given a facelift. The film is thematically vacant outside of the whole "true love conquers" angle, and in this case that's not a problem. Gnomeo & Juliet works best as thoughtless entertainment, the filmmakers seemingly and rightly satisfied with the "cuteness" of the concept and the quality of the execution. Indeed, the animation is spectacular, and the voice acting is strong. The gnomes are extraordinarily well-crafted, even more apparently so in 3D, and the filmmakers have managed to make an entire world from what amounts to a figurative postage stamp-sized pair of adjoining backyards. Common items are worked into the plot to great adventurous, ingenious, and mischievous extents, the film leaving no proverbial stone unturned, making good use of every backyard decorative knickknack to either further the story or engender a bit of humor. The voice casting, save for the miscast Ozzy Osbourne, breathes life into the characters, their performances perhaps the most critical component given the strong artistic rendition but relative flatness and physical similarities between the characters.
Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Gnomeo & Juliet arrives on Blu-ray 3D with a dazzling 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. This is what Blu-ray 3D is all about; there's not much in the way of gimmicky effects shots, but the sense of natural depth, spacing, and size is magnificent. Right from the get-go, before the picture starts, even, viewers are treated to the wonderfully-designed Rocket Pictures neon logo. It's very shapely, almost inviting viewers to curl their hands around the neon tubes. Better still, the movie is a backyard full of 3D eye candy. General depth is constantly impressive, not only in the well-lit daytime scenes but even through the cover of dark, during which several lengthy and critical sequences play out. Characters and objects clearly appear to take up a natural amount of space, and the various gnomes are constructed with real-feeling volume and weight. Even the smallest little chunks missing from their bodies allow viewers to get a sense of how deeply the cut goes, but even more critical than that the 3D visuals allow the oddity that is the walking and talking gnomes to appear far more realistic and convincing than they might otherwise appear in a 2D-only environment. Some of the most striking visuals take place at ground level and around blades of grass. Take a look around chapter thirteen at the way the transfer is able to distinguish each blade of grass, allowing it to sprawl far back into the depths of the monitor but at the same time appear intricately and individually detailed. Better still, the image is one of the most steady 3D images out there; crosstalk is a non-factor, and general stability is constant, from the most impressively deep shots to the most colorful overviews of the warring houses.
This is also a top-notch transfer in terms of its more basic attributes. Detail is positively striking in most every frame; the image reveals the finest little scuffs on the gnomes, the smallest details in baldes of grass, and the tiniest textures on wooden articles such as fenceposts. Even through the 3D glasses, the level of absolute clarity is evident in every shot. Colors are crisp and vibrant, with the many shades of red and blue in particular delivered with eye-catching naturalism. Black levels are perfect; outdoor nighttime shots, lit, it seems, only by the glow of the moon, are just as smooth and steady as the daytime shots. Banding and noise are non-factors. Disney's really hit a homerun with this Blu-ray 3D release. So far, animated titles are proving to be the best of the bunch in terms of raw 3D ability, clarity, and natural depth. Gnomeo & Juliet is superb, particularly factoring in how well the digital artists have taken advantage of the sizes and perspectives that are inherent to the primary characters, giving the audience a unique garden gnome perspective in a 3D environment. Never does the transfer fail to take advantage, making this one of the finest releases available for Blu-ray 3D reference purposes.
Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Gnomeo & Juliet's DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack isn't quite as strong as its video counterpart, but it's certainly no slouch. Perhaps most readily evident is the ease with which Disney's soundtrack handles various environmental effects. Running water, chirping birds, and other natural and backyard ambience is perfectly integrated into the track, taking advantage of the entire soundstage but remaining, generally, only a background element that supports the primary action but nicely envelops the listener in the world of the warring garden gnomes. Music, both score and Elton John's movie-specific tunes, is presented with a natural heft, fine clarity, and excellent spacing. The surround channels carry some of the music's support structure, but also play a part in the delivery of more aggressive sound effects, such as lawnmowers rumbling straight through the listening area both during a race at the beginning of the film and as a beastly rider from hell plows its way through the backyard with deadly efficiency. The track could stand a slight boost in absolute power; it never seems quite so naturally and prolifically seamless as to serve as a perfect source of reference-quality Blu-ray material, but this is still a striking, fun, and well-balanced track. Rounded into form by seamlessly clean and center-focused dialogue, Gnomeo & Juliet's soundtrack is a winner.
Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
All of Gnomeo & Juliet's supplements come on the included 2D Blu-ray disc which is identical to the standalone 2D release. Hence, there are no exclusive 3D-only extras. A DVD/digital copy hybrid disc is also included.
Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's really nothing new here save for the play on words and the uniqueness of the characters. Gnomeo & Juliet is also structurally sound but thematically hollow, which in this case isn't a bad thing. The movie is little more than a fun diversion with a unique spin on an old and tired story, told through the eyes of...garden gnomes? It works, surprisingly enough, and while Gnomeo & Juliet won't go down in the annals of animated cinema as an all-time great, it's nevertheless a strongly-crafted and entertaining little picture that's sure to dazzle young audiences and even keep mom and dad entertained enough to sit through it once or twice. Disney's Blu-ray 3D release of Gnomeo & Juliet features a dazzling 3D transfer, a strong lossless soundtracks, and a relatively tiny assortment of 2D extras which is this release's only real weak spot. Recommended.
Gnomeo & Juliet: Other Editions
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• 3D Gnomeo & Juliet $5 Coupon Offer - May 19, 2011
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• Disney Brings Gnomeo & Juliet to Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D - April 2, 2011
Walt Disney Studios announces the animated twist on William Shakespeare's legendary tale Romeo & Juliet, Gnomeo & Juliet for release as a 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack and 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack on May 24.
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