BLU-RAY REVIEW: Gnomeo & Juliet
A classic play gets new life in this fun animated film for the whole family...
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I've always been a fan of Shakespeare. Heck, as a former English teacher, I used to teach some of the writer's works, helping high school students better understand how a 500 year old play can still speak volumes about the way we life, feel, fight, love and hate today. Now, thanks to Gnomeo & Juliet, Disney's latest animated feature film on blu-ray, kids and families everywhere can see the master playwright's work in a form that's not only more friendly, but more fun as well.
Enter the Montagues and the Capulets, neighborhood who not only despise one another, but have gnomes separated by a large picket fence who despise one another. Dressed in opposing colors (red vs. blue), the two families each share in causing mayhem for the despicable fellows on the other side of the fence using everything from lawn mowers and spray paint to snails and wet clothes. So what happens when Gnomeo, the pride and joy of the blues, and Juliet, the daughter of the red's leader, find themselves falling in love? Plenty of mischief, trouble, fun and laughs...
With voice acting from a solid cast - including James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart, Hulk Hogan, and even Ozzy Osbourne - Gnomeo & Juliet makes for a great showcase of solid talent. Roughly following the plot of the classic play, this story obviously cuts out much of the violence and adds a variety of hilarious pranks, deeds, misadventures, and practical jokes which demonstrate the two side's feelings towards one another. However, that's not to say everyone survives and there are a few tragic moments which will have some emotional children no doubt tearing up a little (I know I was on the verge of tears!).
What many might find most impressive about Gnomeo & Juliet is the soundtrack, which features music from Sir Elton John. Upbeat and perfectly suited for this sort of fair, viewers of all ages will be tapping their toes and smiling to the music. For those not so impressed with the music, the extravagant and flamboyant designs of the many different gnomes and their homes are simply jaw-dropping. From a gnome who looks like Borat in a one-piece bathing suit to a talking flamingo who's keen on love, the characters, their designs, and the eccentric way in which they interact is nothing if not fun. And for guys who are too tough to like flamingos and garden gnomes, there's lawn mower drag racing and the most over-the-top lawn care system - the Terrafirminator V.O. - that'll have you laughing out loud...and wishing you had one too!
The animated film comes to life beautifully in traditional 2-D, with a beautiful, bright and crisp 1080p video transfer. There's no blurring, bleeding or banding and the colors, bright and sharp, capture the film's mood extremely well. Smooth and easy to watch, it's hard not to love what you see with Gnomeo & Juliet.
As for audio, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack delivers plenty to hear, be it the rocking music, the sound effects found in the back yard gardens, or the hilarious dialogue. Be it the lawn mowers racing across the screen (and through your speakers), the spray paint tagging the wishing well or the clear and clean dialogue from the front speakers, the audio track on Gnomeo & Juliet is near-perfect.
As for special features, this 2-disc set includes the film both on blu-ray hi-def (2-D) and DVD. Likewise, a number of entertaining additional special features include a short 5-minute featurette, "Elton Builds a Garden," which takes a look at the award-winning musician helping create the film, a short 4-minute "Alternate Endings With Filmmaker Introductions" and over 40 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes (all of which are in "story reel" form). A very brief chat with actress Ashley Jensen (who plays Nanette, Juliet's frog/nurse) is also included as is another brief look at the casting of Ozzy Osbourne for the lawn deer "Fawn." Lastly, a animated music video version of "Crocodile Rock" featuring Nelly Furtado and Elton John is also featured.
If you're a fan of Disney's animated features - and who isn't? - Gnomeo & Juliet is well worth a watch. Enjoyable no matter your age, you'll laugh (and maybe cry?) at the hilariousness that ensues with these star-crossed lovers fall for one another and force their feuding families to see life for what it really is.
Gnomeo & Juliet is rated G for all audiences and is available now on blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley