The story of Romeo and Juliet has been told more times than just about any tale in history. I thought it had gone far enough when there was a modern day adaptation featuring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, but apparently I was mistaken. 'Gnomeo and Juliet' is the latest entry for this Shakespearean cash cow, but this time it's intended for children.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' is the story of rival garden gnome clans known as the reds and the blues, who live next door to each other. Gnomeo (James McAvoy) is the son of the leader of the blues, and Juliet (Emily Blunt), is the daughter of the leader of the reds. The reds and the blues have been in a long-running dispute, causing each side to continuously ruin the other's garden. By chance, Gnomeo and Juliet happen to be in the right place at the right time, and it's love at first sight. Trouble erupts when Juliet catches Gnomeo in the act of attempting to destroy the reds' prized tulip patch. All out war erupts between the two rival clans and events occur that cause all of them to think Gnomeo has been killed. Both sides are shaken to the foundation and must decide if they can overcome their differences and end their long feud.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' is a flawed movie. For one thing, the pacing isn't very good, for a movie that was only around 80 minutes, it sure felt a LOT longer. It's also difficult to adapt the story of Romeo and Juliet into a film targeted for children. The original is a very adult story, with themes that children would probably struggle to understand or enjoy. I did, however, appreciate how it attempted to honor the original story with the inclusion of a talking statue of William Shakespeare who tells Gnomeo the story of Romeo and Juliet. Aside from that, I found the whole production to be very straight forward and predictable, not to mention very Elton John heavy (and not in a 'Lion King' kinda way)! Finally, I felt 'Gnomeo and Juliet' was trying a bit too hard to toss in jokes for the parents, as some were actually pretty inappropriate for a 'G' rated movie.
The voice acting was surprisingly good. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt do very well together and the supporting cast is also very strong. Toss in seasoned voices like Maggie Smith and Michael Caine as the parents, Patrick Stewart as Shakespeare, and Jim Cummings as the comedic pink lawn flamingo, and you have a winning voice cast. The film aside, they all do a great job making the movie as good as it can possibly be, if only the script had been a bit stronger!
Overall, 'Gnomeo and Juliet' is a film parents won't find terribly enjoyable, but kids should be entertained for a while. The story is pretty flat and predictable, and fans of Romeo and Juliet won't care for this most recent take on the classic story. But like I said, 'Gnomeo and Juliet' has a great voice cast and will keep the kids occupied for a while.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' arrives on Blu-ray with a reference quality 1080p/MPEG-4 transfer framed at 1.85:1. As far as picture quality goes, this is about as good as it gets.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' is a very colorful film, and boy does the movie transfer extremely well to the Blu-ray format. Bright reds, blues, and greens will pop off your screen. You will be amazed at the bright reds and deep blues of the rival gnomes. Texture is also very strong, as you'll notice every last nick and scratch on each gnome. Equally impressive is the detail in things like rocks, street pavement, and fabric on items such as the sock Juliet uses as a disguise. Digital artifacts are not an issue at all with this release. Overall, this is a reference quality transfer that viewers will be hard pressed to find a problem with.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' offers up a pretty good 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that does the job pretty well, but it also seems to miss the mark just a bit.
Dialogue is clear and centered throughout, but the main problem for me was the underwhelming power of the soundtrack. Rear speakers are underutilized in some of the more action-packed sequences, and the bass effects are very underused. For a film that features a great deal of music, I was expecting a track like that featured in 'Tangled,' where music is clear and has that deep, well balanced feeling. Unfortunately that's not always the case with this film.
The audio presentation doesn't quite stack up to the supurb video quality of this release. Nevertheless, this is still a solid track that will leave you wanting just a little bit more.
'Gnomeo and Juliet' comes with a fairly small collection of special features. Here is what to expect from this release:
Overall, 'Gnomeo and Juliet' is a pretty standard children's film. The story won't leave any lasting impression, and the likelihood of repeat viewing is very low, unless of course you have children. The movie aside, the video quality of this release is reference material and though the audio isn't quite as good, it's still above average. Add a limited supply of extras and this release comes recommended for families with children. Probably worth a rental at best for anyone curious about the movie.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.