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TOUCHSTONE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Kelly Asbury
Cast:
James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant
Writing Credits:
Rob Sprackling (story and original screenplay), John R. Smith (story and original screenplay), Andy Riley (and story), Kevin Cecil (and story), Kelly Asbury (and story), Steve Hamilton Shaw (and story), Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, William Shakespeare (play)

Synopsis:
From a director of Shrek 2 comes your chance to step into the secret world of garden gnomes - Gnomeo & Juliet. Perfect for the whole family, this fresh and funny makeover of one of the world's most timeless story features music from Sir Elton John, and the voice talents of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy and Sir Michael Caine. Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingoes and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness? Complete with hilarious never-before-seen bonus features, Gnomeo & Juliet is an out-of-the-ordinary animated comedy your entire family will love. We just gnome it!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$25.356 million on 2994 screens.
Domestic Gross
$99.046 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplemens Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 5/24/2011

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Elton Builds a Garden” Featurette
• Alternate Endings with Filmmaker Introductions
• Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions
• “Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen” Featurette
• “The Fawn of Darkness” Featurette
• Music Video
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Gnomeo & Juliet [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 17, 2011)

Over the centuries, we’ve gotten skillions of adaptations of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. Until now, none of them have starred garden gnomes. A 2011 animated feature called Gnomeo & Juliet corrects that state of affairs.

If you need a plot synopsis, here goes! Two elderly neighbors maintain gardens packed with gnomes and other ceramic figures – and they hate each other. This rivalry trickles down to these seemingly inanimate characters; when out of the sight of humans, they come to life and maintain a strong disdain for each other.

Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) is part of the “blue” group on one side of the fence, and “red” Juliet (Emily Blunt) lives on the other side. When both attempt their own late-night adventures, they literally run into each other. Both disguised for stealth, they don’t realize they represent the battling clans until it’s too late and they’ve developed a connection.

Though upset when they figure out their families, Gnomeo and Juliet decide to push ahead. They pursue a hidden romance and run the risk of all sorts of problems if their kin find out the truth.

The same day I watched Gnomeo on Blu-ray, I saw Rio in the theaters. As I’ll detail when I review that title eventually, I thought Rio was dull and utterly forgettable, a slow-paced dud that never seemed to end.

Given my disappointment with that film, it seemed likely that I’d enjoy Gnomeo more than if I’d seen it in a vacuum; given my boredom with the other movie, shouldn’t this one have stood out as an upgrade?

Sure, and it did – just not to a tremendous degree. To be sure, there’s more entertainment and cleverness on display here than in Rio. That one seemed rather paint by numbers, while Gnomeo shows glimmers of actual inspiration.

But not tons of inspiration, though. Much of the fun comes from the excellent cast. In addition to McAvoy and Blunt – both of whom are actually a bit forgettable in their parts – we get work from Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, and a mix of other decent “names”. They add real life to the program, though the best performance comes from an unlikely source: Ozzy Osborne as a fake fawn. The filmmakers make the deer somewhat dazed ‘n’ confused ala the real Ozzy, and he plays semi-himself in a humorous way.

The various performances provide the movie’s highlights, as the rest of it stays in “pretty okay” territory and that’s about it. We get numerous Shakespearian references/quotes, and these offer mild amusement. A few more modern pop culture allusions as well, and these are also hit or miss, though I like the ad for the intense lawn mower “Terrafirminator”.

Elton John’s participation becomes a major theme as well – to a distracting degree, to be honest. I’m okay with the use of his music as score, but the movie punches in a ton of Elton-related gags for no logical reason other than his involvement as executive producer. At times, the film feels like a commercial for Elton’s greatest hits; the references aren’t terribly clever, and they seem rather gratuitous.

I wish I could find more to endorse here, and I will say that Gnomeo provides a moderately enjoyable 84 minutes. However, that’s about all I can say for it. This is a pretty average animated adventure.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Gnomeo & Juliet appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not the greatest animated transfer I’ve seen, the image appeared solid.

Only a wee smidgen of softness occurred. A few wide shots were a tad iffy, but those were minor complaints. The vast majority of the flick seemed tight and well-defined. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or DNR. Source flaws remained totally absent as well.

Colors became a highlight. The movie enjoyed a broad palette, with a good range of hues. A wide variety of other tones appeared as well, and all of them looked rich and dynamic. Blacks were dark and deep, and I thought shadows seemed smooth and clear. I felt consistently pleased with the transfer.

Though also not killer, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine. My only complaint related to the quality of the music, which seemed a bit lackluster. The film relied on Elton John songs – some from his original recordings, some reworked as score – and these failed to deliver great punch. They didn’t sound bad, but they were thinner than expected.

Other aspects of the track worked better. Speech was always natural and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Effects seemed lively and distinctive; they didn’t have a ton to do, but they showed good accuracy and heft.

While the soundfield wasn’t terribly involving, it had its moments. The movie came with a few action-oriented sequences that added some fun; these created a good sense of life and moved around the room well. General atmosphere was also fine, as the film conveyed the garden settings in a satisfying way. Nothing here excelled – and the lackluster music disappointed – but the mix remained positive enough for “B-“.

A few extras fill out the release. Elton Builds a Garden runs five minutes, 47 seconds and includes notes from executive producer/composer Elton John, director Kelly Asbury, producers Baker Bloodworth, Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish, composer James Newton Howard, musician Davey Johnstone and actor Michael Caine. “Builds” looks at some basics of the film’s development. It’s a pretty rudimentary “making of” featurette; it provides a few decent notes – mostly about the music – but don’t expect a lot from it. I do like Johnstone’s description of Elton’s “chicken sandwich songs”, though.

Next we get cut footage. This includes two Alternate Endings with Filmmaker Introductions (4:05) and eight Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions (42:25). Under the former, we see “Alternate Opening” (4:12), “Featherstone’s Game” (2:32), “First Date – Alternate Scene” (5:03, “Game On” (3:12), “Gnomeo Exiled – Deleted Sequence” (8:31), “Wedding Ruse” (8:08), “Featherstone, Shroom and Gnomeo” (2:50) and “Gnomeo Meets the Weathervanes” (1:39). The two alternate endings are entirely forgettable. They offer no new/different story or character information; they’re just alternate ways to end the flick on a happy and peppy note.

As for the deleted/alternate scenes, they vary in quality. Some are pretty entertaining, and we see some intriguing threads/differences; for instance, Featherstone was originally more of a 60s burnout sort. I don’t know if any of these pieces would’ve been good in the final flick, but they’re enjoyable to see.

All of the clips open with introductions from director Kelly Asbury. He tells us a bit about the scenes and usually lets us know why he cut/altered the material. He delivers useful and interesting thoughts.

Two more featurettes follow. Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen goes for one minute, 46 seconds and throws out notes from Asbury, John, and actor Ashley Jensen. She offers a few remarks about performing in an animated film. Though brief, this is a fun piece, and we get some entertaining shots from the studio.

The Fawn of Darkness lasts one minute, 29 seconds and provides statements from Asbury and actor Ozzy Osborne. It follows the same template as “Frog Talk” and is also enjoyable if too brief.

Lastly, we discover a Music Video for Nelly Furtado’s short cover of “Crocodile Rock”. Her rendition is cutesy at best, and the video is nothing more than a mix of movie bits and recording studio footage. Blah!

The Blu-ray opens with ads for Winnie the Pooh, SpookyBuddies: The Curse of the Howlloween Hound, and The Lion King. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for The Fox and the Hound, The Fox and the Hound II, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, Dumbo and the Epic Mickey Wii game.

Finally, a second platter provides a DVD Copy of Gnomeo. If you want to own the film but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable – or if you just want one to tote in the car - it’s a good bonus, especially since it appears to be the same as the version you’d buy on its own.

Combine Shakespeare with Toy Story - and leave out the former’s tragedy and the latter’s cleverness – and you get Gnomeo and Juliet. While not a bad animated flick, this one lacks much real spark; it delivers moderate amusement and nothing more. The Blu-ray offers very good visuals, decent audio and a few interesting supplements. Gnomeo offers credible but ordinary animated fun.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main