DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main
SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Gary Winick
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried, Marcia DeBonis, Gael García Bernal, Giordano Formenti, Paolo Arvedi, Daniel Baldock
Writing Credits:
Jose Rivera, Tim Sullivan

Tagline:
What if you had a second chance to find true love?

Synopsis:
In Verona, Italy the beautiful city where Romeo first met Juliet there is a place where the heartbroken leave notes asking Juliet for her help. It s there that aspiring writer Sophie finds a 50-year-old letter that will change her life forever. As she sets off on a romantic journey of the heart with the letter's author, Claire, now a grandmother, and her handsome grandson, all three will discover that sometimes the greatest love story ever told is your own.

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$13.540 million on 2968 screens.
Domestic Gross
$53.021 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $40.99
Release Date: 9/14/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Gary Winick and Actor Amanda Seyfried
• “The Making of Letters to Juliet: In Italia” Featurette
• “A Courtyard in Verona” Featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Previews
• DVD Version of the Film


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


Letters To Juliet [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 17, 2010)

At the ripe old age of 25, Amanda Seyfried appears eager to become the new queen of the chick flick. She made her name as part of Mamma Mia! and has almost uniformly embraced films aimed at a female audience since then.

Seyfried follows Dear John with Letters to Juliet, a romantic journey through Italy. New Yorker fact checker Sophie Hall (Seyfried) wants to make the move up to writer, but she can’t get a break.

Sophie finds an avenue to express herself when she and her fiancé Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) take a “pre-honeymoon” to Verona, Italy. He becomes preoccupied with areas related to his restaurant business, so she takes off on her own to site-see.

Along the way, she discovers a little shrine to Juliet – as in Romeo and… - and sees that many people compose letters to the fictional character. The “Secretaries of Juliet” collect these missives and respond to them. This intrigues Sophie, so she joins their cause. She discovers a letter left stuck in a wall for 50 years and decides it deserves a reply.

To Sophie’s surprise, she receives a response back almost immediately. Escorted by her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) comes over from England to meet Sophie – and try to find Lorenzo, her lost love. Sophie accompanies them as they search the Italian countryside for Lorenzo, as she hopes to get a story out of it – and winds up with much more.

Normally I avoid spoilers in my reviews, but I’ll find that tough to do with Letters. This means that if you want to avoid spoilers, quit now and head to the technical specs.

Not that the “spoilers” in Letters will be seen as such by anyone over the age of 12; any viewer with even 1/8th of a brain will figure out the film’s main romantic thrust quickly. Letters really telegraphs its male characters. Within seconds of meeting Victor, we can tell that he’s a self-involved schmuck. Do you think Sophie will end up with a guy like that? Yeah, didn’t think you would, even though during his commentary, director Gary Winick insists that the audience always believes that Sophie and Victor could be a good couple.

Did he see the same movie? From minute one, Bernal plays Victor as a hyperactive cartoon. He never displays the slightest interest in Sophie; all he cares about is himself and his restaurant. He pays little attention to her and doesn’t listen to her, and yet the audience is meant to see him as an acceptable suitor? Nope – he exists as a plot device intended to get Sophie to Italy and then prompt other action. He’s not a viable partner for Sophie, no matter how hard the movie tries to make us believe otherwise.

As for Charlie, he and Sophie take an immediate dislike for each other, but not in a believable way. They irritate each other in that cute chick flick way, a manner that lets us know exactly how their relationship will develop. Of course they end up together – a movie like this would have it no other way.

I admit I find the film’s basic premise annoying. There really are women who write letters to Juliet, which just seems nuts to me. Is that the mopey self-involved chick version of writing to Santa? It seems bizarre that someone would write a letter to a fictional character! If the flick made more fun of these ladies, it’d be more interesting, but it takes them far too seriously.

Though technically a romantic comedy, Letters favors the “romantic” side, and that makes it a drag. There’s not much life here, as we know that Sophie and Charlie will inevitably end up together, and we assume something good will come from Claire’s quest for Lorenzo – a quest that actually made me feel bad for Charlie and his granddad. Essentially the movie paints Charlie’s grandpa to be some consolation prize, the guy that Claire settled for after she chickened out with Lorenzo. We’re told Lorenzo is her true love, and as Sophie says, “true love has no expiration date”.

Gag. Perhaps the kind of women who write letters to Juliet will enjoy Letters to Juliet, but it’s hard to imagine anyone with a “Y” chromosome will take anything good from it. The film boasts an unusual – but grating – premise and delivers a paint by numbers romance.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Letters to Juliet appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not flawless, the visuals satisfied.

Sharpness usually pleased. A few wide shots suffered from mild softness, but nothing terribly ill-defined appeared. Instead, the majority of the flick was concise and accurate. I witnessed no examples of jaggies or moiré effects, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws also remained absent in this clean presentation.

With its romantic tone, Letters opted for a warm, sun-dappled palette. The movie favored a tan, earthy feel that made the colors look quite nice. They consistently appeared full and attractive. Blacks came across as dark and deep, while shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. Only the mild softness kept this one from “A”-level consideration.

I didn’t expect much from the film’s audio, and the lackluster DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked along the anticipated lines. The soundscape remained consistently ordinary. A few minor effects popped up in the side and rear channels, but these offered little more than general atmosphere. Music boasted good stereo presence and also used the surrounds in a passable manner; the score was the most inviting aspect of the mix. Effects just didn’t have much to offer.

At least audio quality was satisfying. Speech always came across as concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects gave us nothing to tax our speakers; they were accurate in their own wimpy little way. Music seemed full and lively, though. All of this worked fine for the movie, but none of it was enough to prompt a grade over a “C+”.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Gary Winick and actor Amanda Seyfried. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, story and editing, cinematography and music, and a few other production areas.

While not the most fascinating commentary I’ve heard, this one does its job. Winick provides most of the info, but both parties contribute useful material. They interact well and create a reasonably lively chat, though Winick does narrate the film a bit too much in early moments. We also find out he vetoed a scene in which Seyfried would’ve been clad only in bra and panties, which puts him on my enemies list. Despite that problem, this is a good track.

Two featurettes follow. The Making of Letters to Juliet: In Italia goes for 12 minutes, 40 seconds and includes notes from Winick, Seyfriend, producers Mark Canton and Caroline Kaplan, production designer Stuart Wurtzel, and actors Christopher Egan, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael Garcia Bernal, Luisa Ranieri and Franco Nero.“Making” examines the film’s development, story, cast and characters, and shooting in Italy. In terms of content, expect a lot of the usual fluff; we don’t really learn much here. We do get some decent shots from the set, but this remains a forgettable piece.

A Courtyard in Verona lasts five minutes, 40 seconds and offers remarks from Nero, Seyfried, Bernal, Redgrave, Ranieri, Kaplan, authors Lisa and Ceil Friedman. “Courtyard” looks at the history behind the movie’s story. Despite the program’s brevity, it provides a good amount of material. It’s certainly more involving than “Making”, as we learn some good info here.

Eight Deleted and Extended Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, 53 seconds (including a 57-second intro from Winick). We find “Get Him Back!” (0:43), “Overlooking Verona” (0:49), “Joining the Journey” (1:43), “Wine Auction” (1:16), “Another Wrong Lorenzo” (1:38), “How Did You Two Sleep?” (0:54), “Lunch at Lorenzo’s” (2:04) and “Wedding Toast” (0:49). The first two are the only actual deleted scenes, and they focus on issues related to the titular letters. They’re unnecessary exposition.

The other seven extend existing sequences. They give us more of the search for Lorenzo, and we spend more time with those characters. The clips add a bit of depth to the supporting roles, but I think they’re good cuts; the flick already seems slow and long, so additional footage wouldn’t have helped matters.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Ghost Writer, Red, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Remember Me. No trailer for Letters shows up here.

On the flipside of the Blu-ray, you’ll get a DVD Version of the film. I think a lot of people dislike the dual-sided disc format, and I can’t blame them; it’s an awkward way to include the DVD. It’s nice to get the DVD as a bonus, but I’d prefer it if the two remained separate.

Somewhere out there, you might find a male who likes romantic claptrap such as Letters to Juliet, but I’m not that male. With its thin characters and silly premise, it provides nothing more than tired melodrama. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, adequate audio, and some decent extras. I have no complaints about this release, but the movie itself is a dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 5
35:
04:
1 3:
12:
01:
View Averages for all rated titles.

.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main