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Gnomeo & Juliet (3D/2D) (2011) Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 May 2011
ImageGnomeo, Gnomeo, where for art thou Gnomeo?  “Gnomeo & Juliet” is the loosely based on the classic Shakespeare tragedy of the similar title.  Obviously, being a family film it cannot end in tragedy, or can it?  The answer I believe is obvious, but I will leave it to you to find out.

The film centers on two households, the Blue and the Red.  But instead of humans we have garden gnomes.  We are introduced to the homeowners as feuding neighbors and that feud carries to their respective gnomes.  When the humans are away it is time for the gnomes to play.

The names of all the gnomes is too much to recall, but on the Blue side we have Gnomeo and his mother, along with Gnomeo’s pal Benny and dog-acting mushroom gnome.  On the Red side we have Juliet and her father, along with Tibalt, a wacky frog and for dome reason a reindeer.

Juliet is treated as a delicate princess that is to remain atop her tower and pose like a princess.  But Juliet is determined to make the Red household respect her individuality.  She sets out to nab a special Iris flower in the night.  Meanwhile Gnomeo is out hiding from a Red search party.  The two meet at an abandoned greenhouse and both are disguised.  They share an instant connection.  But when it is revealed that they are of the Blue and Red households they are taken aback.  Gnomeo, dissuaded only for a moment, finds his way to Juliet in the Red yard.

The film takes a turn when the households find Gnomeo and Juliet together.  Gnomeo makes his exit while the Blue yard plots their revenge.  They take their revenge and it goes horribly wrong.  A few twists come in a t the end that I will not reveal.  But ultimately, the film takes the tragedy out of the tragedy.  There are some many avenues that could have been taken to make this film have an interesting twist on the classic tragedy, but all are ignored in favor of happiness. Another reason to watch this film, other than the gnome battles, is the presence of the musical component.  After all, this wouldn’t be a Disney film without music.  Elton John comes back to Disney to create a few new songs and rearrange some of his old hits for “Gnomeo & Juliet.”  I was a little disappointed by how brief some of the songs lasted or the caliber with which they were performed.  I was looking forward to a great “Your Song” performance, which seemed to be an obvious choice for the subject matter.  Instead, it is butchered by some random gnome.  Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is nicely done, but didn’t seem appropriate lyric-wise for the spot in which it was placed.  The creators tease you with a few bars from “Bennie And The Jets,” but nothing more.  Still, the music is good fun, but hardly appropriate for several of the sequences.

The voice cast features Emily Blunt as Juliet, James McAvoy as Gnomeo and Michael Caine as Juliet’s father.  We will disregard the presence of Ozzy Osbourne.  Blunt’s voice and accent are perfectly suited to fair, but strong Juliet.  The other members of the voice cast fit in nicely for the most part.  As I already indicated there are few that stick out like sore thumbs.

“Gnomeo & Juliet” is a quick 3D follow-up to “Tangled.”  So it is no surprise when the film’s 3D and 2D video quality present themselves at the same level as that of “Tangled.”  However, this is really a Touchstone Pictures release and not strictly Disney, though they fall under the same group.  This is another 3D film that gives you good reason to invest in a 3D setup.  But also, once again the excitement of 3D disappears quite fast after completion of the film.  Still, this 3D presentation yields three outstanding qualities; depth, detail and color.  There are no gimmicky 3D effects in this film.  There are few “out from the screen” moments, but they integrate nicely.  Where 3D plays a big part in this release is with the depth of the image.  Each yard is fully rendered.  It is easy to place objects within a 3D field.  The overviews of the houses and the city provide excellent layouts.  Simulated camera movements during chase sequences makes you feel like you are right there in the yard with the gnomes, albeit as a tiny person.  I can’t say that the detail it any better than the 3D depth, but it comes close.  Each and every blade of grass is fully rendered.  The texture of each gnome is 3D-like even in the 2D presentation.  Now, throw in the color brilliance contained in the film and the creators have hit the trifecta.  The studio has nicely taken into consideration the drop in brightness when using active 3D glasses.  Without the glasses the 3D image, aside form looking fuzzy, looks far too bright and washed out.  Slip those 3D glasses on and the brightness and contrast levels come out perfect.  The blues and reds, of which are most important, have depth of their own.  The shades of every color are more than just multi-toned.  They are seemingly endless.  On another positive note, this is the first 3D presentation that I have seen that did not have one instance of ghosting.  So, if there if you are looking for a depth-related, non-ghosting 3D demo, this is it.  In a word, the video quality of both the 3D and 2D presentations is, brilliant.

As promised by Disney, all their 3D releases would be accompanied by 7.1 audio.  Like “Tangled” and “Tron: Legacy,” “Gnomeo & Juliet” was natively mixed in 7.1 surround sound.  The 7.1 surround usage doesn’t quite live up to that of “Tron: Legacy,” but it does beat out “Tangled.”  Once again, the back two surround channels are used primarily for the music score.  The usage of these two channels for discrete sound effects is virtually nill.  The usage of the two channels for pan-throughs of sound effects is a bit better, but there are still several missed opportunities.  In one sequence the lawn mower drives right by you from the front and into the surround back channels.  Then in the next the surround back channels are completely gone.  While this only happens on a few occasions, it is enough to knock the rating down a half of a point.  The dialogue is weighting and nicely centered.  Dynamics are fairly good, though a bit more would have been appreciated.  The LFE channel is a bit more reserved than I would have liked, but it still offers nice support when called upon.  Fans will be most pleased with this DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track.

“Gnomeo & Juliet,” the 3D package comes with a Blu-ray 3D disc, Blu-ray 2D disc, and a DVD/Digital Copy of the film.  All the bonus materials are presented on the Blu-ray 2D disc.  There are no 3D exclusive bonus materials.  That isn’t a big bummer as there haven’t been any 3D bonus materials to date worth viewing.

The largest portion of the bonus materials section is the inclusion of about 45 minutes of Deleted and Alternate Scenes, including two alternate endings.  All of the deleted scenes are shown in storyboard format.

“Elton Builds A Garden” is a 5-minute clip about Elton John’s involvement with the production process.  “Frog Talk With Ashley Jensen” is a quick clip with the voice actress.  “The Fawn Of Darkness” is a quick look at Ozzy Osbourne as one of the voices.  Lastly, there is a “Crocodile Rock” music video with Elton John and Nelly Furtado.

“Gnomeo & Juliet” isn’t the perfect animated family fun movie, but it is sure to draw in children with the luscious colors and details.  The music is not the best it could have been, but it is integral to the story.  I recommend adding this 3D title to your collection.

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