Gnomeo & Juliet (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Before you read this review, there are a few questions that you need to answer first. Have you been clamoring for an updated version of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet?” Do you like Elton John (for younger readers, do you know who Elton John is?) and would you like these two intertwined with…garden gnomes? If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions then congratulations, you’ll get a kick out of “Gnomeo & Juliet!” To be fair, “Romeo & Juliet” is perhaps the most widely adapted tale in films and this is yet another spin on it. But the filmmakers are obviously very clever and preface the movie with this as well. And amid the vast selection of computer animated films, it’s becoming harder and harder to really stand out in the crowd. That’s where the garden gnomes come in. Or is it the talking pink flamingos? Or maybe it’s the lawn mower voiced by Hulk Hogan? Hmmm, well I think that you know what you’re going to get when you pop this movie in. Or do you?

We meet the blues and the reds, two dueling houses that ironically share one. The feud has been going on so long that no one really knows how or why it started, but the blues and reds are always out to sabotage each others’ gardens. It so happens that during one of these “missions” that Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) catches the eye of Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt). Naturally the two fall for one another and throwing caution to the wind, they forsake what their families might think. As the romance blossoms, so too does the rivalry. Tybalt (voiced by Jason Statham) is the clear ringleader of the reds and only when it’s believed that Gnomeo has perished, do the two houses take a step back and see what’s what.

Ok, this is based on “Romeo and Juliet” and if you don’t know the premise then I really can’t spell it out any more simply than that. I will say that this is a “G” rated film, so don’t expect some of the tragic things to happen to our dome-headed friends that happened in the original play. Part of the allure of some of these animated films is that they play equally to both kids and audiences alike. They’re very clever. And for those of you who were wondering, Elton John hasn’t fallen off the face of the planet – evidently he’s been working on this film in a producer role. Fans of Shakespeare and/or Elton John will love to spot the countless references planted within the film and the kids should get a kick out of it for pure entertainment value alone. Yes, “Gnomeo & Juliet” isn’t up there with the “Toy Story” movies, but I can think of much worse ways to pass 84 minutes.

Video: How does it look?

I know I sound like a broken record with some of these computer animated films, but they all look so pristine and perfect that it’s really hard to find a fault with them. “Gnomeo & Juliet” is shown in a 1.85:1 AVC HD image that looks as good as I thought it would. Colors are bold and vibrant. The red gnome hats “pop” throughout. While there aren’t many “flesh tones” to speak of since the characters in question are, well, gnomes, the porcelain features of the characters look so lifelike that you could reach out and touch them. Take, for example, the texture in the concrete bunnies that make their appearance in the film or the detail in the “Terrafirminator.” Amazing. This is right up there with some of the best transfers I’ve seen and I’m not the least bit surprised. Perfect.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack isn’t half bad, either. As you may have guessed, there are some Elton John songs (new ones as well) that resonate throughout the movie. The “Terrafirminator” (the behemoth lawn mower voiced by Hulk Hogan) sounds simply amazing and there were a few times that I thought Hulk Hogan was in my living room (scary, by the way). Surrounds are present during most of the film and while the LFE are used, they’re not used to great extent. While not as impressive as the video, this certainly does deliver when it needs to.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This two disc set comes with both the Blu-ray and standard DVD with a digital copy on the DVD disc. In regards to actual supplements, we do get some fairly informative yet very routine extras. First up are two alternate endings, though shown in very rough “storyboard” format. There are also some deleted scenes in the same said format. We get a rather witty feature in which Ozzy Osbourne (who voices the fawn in the movie) and his non-seneschal ramblings are explored. The youngsters might not know him as the “Prince of Darkness” but the adults should get a kick out of it. “Elton Builds a Garden” is essentially Sir Elton’s involvement with the film and his music that is heard throughout. We get an interview with vocalist Ashley Jensen and her contributions to Nanette. Lastly we get a video for one of Elton John’s most popular songs: “Crocodile Rock

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