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Gnomeo & Juliet(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 and the Gnomeo & Juliet Blu-ray release, see Gnomeo & Juliet Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 18, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Kelly Asbury
Writers: Mark Burton (IV), Kathy Greenberg, Emily Cook, Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith
» See full cast & crew
Gnomeo & Juliet Blu-ray Review
It looks fantastic in 2D, too.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 18, 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 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Gnomeo & Juliet's 1080p 2D-only transfer is just as stunning as its 3D counterpart, only without the added benefit of actual depth. This is all one could reasonably expect of a 2D all-digital animated transfer; it's lively, colorful, wonderfully detailed, and free of any perceptible warts. Of note is the striking color palette that's evident in every scene, even in the fairly long dark stretch where Gnomeo ends up meeting Juliet. The picture is awash in reds and blues, both handsomely rendered and perfectly displayed. Color balance is exceptional; there's no bleed-over, and color gradations are perfect. Green foliage, yellow flowers, tan bricks, and even gray concrete sidewalks and roadways are all balanced, crisp, and eye-catching. Fine detail is just as good. Viewers will be amazed at the level of absolute digital perfection visible in every scene, a tribute both to the power of Blu-ray and the intricacies of the digital artwork that make up every character and environment. The chips and scratches that appear on every garden gnome add plenty of authenticity to the film while at the same time providing some of the best evidence of this transfer's mastery. Fine textures on brick façades, wooden fence posts, and even a pink sock Juliet wears for a moment in chapter two couldn't feature any more realism for a digital object. Black levels are absolutely perfect, and shadow detail is wonderful. The 2D image even manages a fair sense of depth. Banding and blocking are non-issues, and the image is smooth, sharp, and crisp at every turn. This is everything Blu-ray fans could want in an animated transfer; it's absolutely stunning from the top-down.
Gnomeo & Juliet 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 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This 2D-only Blu-ray release of Gnomeo & Juliet features all of the on-disc supplements that come on the 2D disc included in the Blu-ray 3D release. However, this release drops the digital copy but retains the DVD copy.
Gnomeo & Juliet 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 release of Gnomeo & Juliet features a dazzling 1080p 2D transfer, a strong lossless soundtracks, and a relatively tiny assortment of extras, which is this release's only real weak spot. Recommended.
Gnomeo & Juliet: Other Editions
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Gnomeo & Juliet Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, May 23 -29: Gnomeo & Juliet Bows on Top - June 2, 2011
In its first week of release Disney's Gnomeo & Juliet bowed on top of the Blu-ray sales chart with 36% of total package media sales coming from the HD format. Gnomeo, finished its domestic box office run with a total just under $100 million and managed to topple ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - May 24-30 - May 24, 2011
D.J. Caruso's I Am Number Four, based on a book of the same name by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, is this weeks biggest release. It is a teen sci-fi drama which follows the trials and tribulations of John Smith, portrayed by Alex Pettyfer, as he tries to escape ...
• Cast and Crew Q&A Interviews: Gnomeo & Juliet - May 20, 2011
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has provided Blu-ray.com with a series of Q&A interviews with Gnomeo & Juliet executive producer/singer-songwriter Sir Elton John, song lyricist Bernie Taupin and voice actors Emily Blunt, Matt Lucas and Ashley Jensen. Gnomeo & Juliet ...
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