* Prices may differ from that shown
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Gnomeo & Juliet in case you haven't already guessed is the greatest love story ever told, starring garden gnomes. The classic Shakespeare tale has had a comical makeover starring a bunch of garden gnomes and other garden animals. Gnomeo and Juliet are in love with each other but have many obstacles to overcome when they are caught up in a feud between neighbours. With plastic pink flamingos and lawnmower races will the young happy couple find lasting happiness?
Actors in the Film
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Gnomeo is played by James McAvoy, known for his roles in X-Men, Narnia, Wanted and more. Emily Blunt does the voice of Juliet and has starred in The Adjustment Bureau, Looped, Young Victoria and more. Other famous actors such as Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Julie Walters, Hulk Hogan, Richard Wilson and more also voice characters in the film. For some of the characters you can actually tell who voices them such as Jason Statham voicing Tubalt and Julie Walters voicing Miss Montague.
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The film starts off with us seeing the neighbours coming out of their houses which are next to each other. As soon as the neighbours leave we see the gnomes in their gardens come to life fishing, exercising and going about their daily duties. Juliet is parts of the red which is in one neighbour's garden and Gnomeo is part of the blue which is in the other neighbour's garden. Juliet wants to go out and explore a little but her father says she is too delicate to go exploring. We see one of the red and one of the blue gnomes race each other riding lawn mowers. During this race some music is played which is quite upbeat to match the race in the film. There is a rather cute bunch of small gnomes which all talk in sequence and they have large hats covering their faces so you can just see their noses sticking out from underneath their floppy hats. Not only do the gnomes come to life but the other garden animals such as the mushrooms and deer also come to life. Juliet has seen a beautiful flower that she wants to get so she sneaks out during the evening to try to get the flower. Juliet has a female frog as a very good friend and I find the frog rather amusing at times. Whilst Juliet goes to get the Orchid she meets Gnomeo where they have some fun together pinching the orchid off each other and end up falling in the pond. It's then that they both realise that they are on different sides of the neighbour and Juliet runs off. Gnomeo and Juliet realise that they like each other can't be together due to the red and blue gnomes being on opposite sides. During the film we also hear the neighbours argue with each other, how they think each other have been vandalising each other's gardens. Whilst Gnomeo and Juliet are making themselves look nice they play Elton John's, don't go breaking my heart. I find the flamingos particularly amusing and funny in the film. Gnomeo and Juliet have to try keep meeting up with each other in secret so the others don't find out. Gnomeo has to leave when he smashes one of the red gnomes and he is soon alone and everyone else thinks that he has died. The blue's realise Gnomeo is in fact not dead and try to help him and Juliet to reunite. With the gnomes constantly fighting and destroying each other's gardens it makes it difficult for Gnomeo and Juliet to see each other. I love the end of the film where all the gnomes and characters dance on the screen to crocodile rock.
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There is quite a lot of music through-out the film and this ranges from songs to instrumental music. I particularly like the instrumental music as it mixes in with the theme and the feel of the film. There are quite a few Elton John songs in the film which match the different scenes in the film and also bring some humour to the film as well.
Where to buy the DVD
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I actually watched the film via rental from LoveFilm but you can purchase it from various places such as Amazon, Play.com and HMV. Prices may vary so you may want to compare prices on each of these websites before purchasing it (I often find HMV quite pricey in comparison to these other sites). You can purchase the DVD from Amazon for £4.49; Blu-Ray is likely to be a little bit more expensive.
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Deleted Scenes & Alternative Scenes
Elton Builds a Garden - This tells you how involved Elton John was with the film.
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The film did have some funny scenes to it and I did enjoy it, how-ever I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I would probably watch this again with my nephew as I think he may enjoy this film and all the characters in it. I do like the way they have called the film Gnomeo and Juliet and although it is based on a bunch of Gnomes in a garden is it quite enjoyable. I did think the ending of the film was a little rushed, how-ever if the film was any longer I thought I probably would have got bored. I love that the film has quite a bit of music to it, especially some Elton John classics which makes you bop along to the music as you are watching the film. I think kids and younger children would really like this film and would also find it funny and rather enjoyable. As I thought the film was going to be much better than it was I'm only going to give it 3 out of 5 stars.
(review may also appear on ciao)
'Gnomeo and Juliet' is an animated film from 2011, based on the plot of Shakespeare's novel Romeo and Juliet. I saw a trailer for this film, and thought it looked quite amusing. I bought my husband a copy of it for Christmas, and we recently got chance to watch it after persuading the kids that a non-Disney film could be ok.
It's unusual for big animated movies these days not to be made by one of the bigger more well known companies like Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks. This is made by the smaller company, Rocket pictures. I had not heard of this company before, but when I realised it was a partnership between David Furnish and Elton John, something went 'aha' and clicked in my head. I had never heard of the company before but it has been around since 1996 and made other films, though Gnomeo and Juliet was the only one I had heard of, and there is a link with the Walt Disney Company for this production. It explained to me why the soundtrack to the film heavily features tracks by Elton.
This film is an animated comedy/drama. Knowledge of the Shakespeare play is not essential for you to enjoy this film, but I personally did enjoy the little references that were sometimes verbal, and sometimes visual links to the play. My knowledge of the play comes from me studying it at school nearly 20 years ago, so it is only sketchy, but famous quotes such as 'to be or not to be' and 'a rose by any other name' were something that jumped out to me, and I also loved a whole little scene which features a bronze statue of The Bard himself talking with the main lead character Gnomeo.
The plot features two neighbours, living in Verona Road, Mr Capulet and Miss Montague, who are feuding neighbours in competition to see who has the best garden. The pride of the respective gardens are a Wisteria tree in the blue Montague garden, and a bed of tulips in the Red Capulet garden. While the humans are at work or asleep, the gnomes have a rivalry which can be destructive and dangerous.
Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt) is Lord Redbrick's (Michael Caine) daughter. One day she spots a rare flower in a nearby empty garden. She sets about getting this flower, but is distracted by Gnomeo (James McAvoy) who is the son of Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith) and the pair fall in love and secretly meet in the garden of Featherstone the ornamental flamingo (Jim Cummings).
The rivalry intensifies, and it features a high speed lawnmower chase where Tybalt (Jason Statham) is left broken, and Gnomeo is left in exile presumed dead. Will the star-crossed lovers reunite before the end of the film?
The cast for the film is excellent, and there are some really big names in there like Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne, Ashley Jensen, Richard Wilson, Julie Walters, Stephen Merchant and Hulk Hogan. Some of these voices are more recognisable to me than others. I instantly picked out Richard Wilson's grumpy tones playing Mr Capulet, and Ashley Jensen's Scottish accent playing the ornamental garden frog Nanette.
There are lots of little comedy moments in the script. It is not outright hilarious, but there were enough little nods to popular culture to keep me and my husband amused, and the kids loved watching the gnomes in action and all the silly tricks being played by them towards each other.
The soundtrack is rather dominated by orchestral type songs that are blended with Elton's hits. As well as recognisable instrumental bits from Rocket Man, there was his duet with Kiki Dee, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, and Your Song (which I'm afraid always has me thinking of the musical Moulin Rouge). There are also two new songs written by Elton John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin - Hello, Hello, and Love Builds a Garden. It is not new for Elton to write specifically for films, after he wrote Can You Feel the Love Tonight for the Lion King. Both songs are ok, but not quite as catchy as some of his previous hits. They all fit well with the story however, and it is only when you realise the link to Elton John's company that you start to see how there are no other tricks and it is a little dull it is all in the same style when you think a bit deeper.
The DVD came with some extra special features as most do these days. Firstly, there was an alternative beginning and 5 deleted scenes. These were in story reel format, which is kind of a cartoon, not developed beyond sketches but voiced over. Each of these are introduced by the director, Kelly Asbury, who gives his opinion on why they don't work in the film. This was quite interesting, but some of these scenes are between 7-8 minutes long, and I got a bit bored watching them by the end. They didn't do a lot for me. A much more interesting clip was entitled 'Elton builds a garden' and it featured the process from a script through getting the right director, and you can see McAvoy, Blunt and Hulk Hogan recording their lines, see the characters being developed into 3D animations, and watch Elton and the other musical artists involved working on the soundtrack. I liked this more as it was quite interesting hearing Elton's opinions and seeing how he works in the studio.
My overall impression of this film is it is not likely to become a classic. There is enough to be amusing, but it is too much like Dreamworks productions in the use of popular culture. What is cool now will not be cool in 5 or 10 years time, and therefore it won't have the longevity of Disney Classic films.
I also felt the appeal was quite British. I somehow couldn't see an American audience for example getting why Garden gnomes were relevant.
Without the Elton John factor, and him using his influence to bring in his friends to work on it (eg. Michael Caine) I am not sure it would be as good as it is. I am happy to give this somewhere around 3.5 stars because it has amused us, but we'll not be watching it over and over like other kids films.
I'd heard of this film when it was out at the cinema and fancied seeing it since I like chick flicks and kids films the best really, but there was a lot of other things I wanted to see at the time so I ended up missing out. Luckily I got this the other day and sat down to see what I had missed!
The story follows Shakespeare's classic tale of the star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, only in gnome form which to be honest isn't really a film premise that I would have ever really expected to be produced, but oh well! Everyone knows how Romeo and Juliet were star crossed lovers who were in love with each other yet couldn't be together, and the majority of the story was followed in this film; each character pretty much had an equivalent within the film, and there were also some nice Shakespeare references which made me laugh if you watch carefully. The main difference is just really that it is red and blue gnomes in neighbouring gardens that oppose each other, they often have rival landmower races.
This was a good kids film, it also could appeal to adults as the Shakespeare references showed that it could be taken at many levels. It is also a lovely introduction to Romeo and Juliet for kids before they start to do it in school! Typically for a kids film, it was quite short at only an hour and 20 minutes which is weird since I'm used to a lot longer films these days! Anyway overall it was a good film that I'd recommend.
This was the first film we rented from our free trial at Lovefilm. I saw Emily Blunt (the voice of Juliet) on Graham Norton, and thought the film looked fun! I'm a film graudate, and my fiance is an Animation student, so we thought we'd give it a go.
First of all, a quic outline of the film. Its the usual Romeo and Juliet story, a little bit simplier for the children. There is Gnomeo, who is a part of the blue garden, and Juliet from the red garden. We are never told in the film why they hate each other so much.
The film starts very slowly, and I am not one for slow moving films! I'm not sure why, but I didn't feel any connection to either main character. I was more upset when they met a plastic bird, that had a flashback of when he lost his love. It may be because I already know the story, and obviously this is aimed at children!
There are a few funny moments, for example when one of the gnomes tries to buy an ulimate lawn cutter, and Hulk Hogan is screaming "Broooottthherr" constantly! Probably a great film to keep the kids quiet for a bit, but not for grown ups! Was a bit underwelmed.
Gnomeo and Juliet is a children's retelling of William Shakespeare's classic tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet'. On Verona Drive, Gnomeo Montague (a blue hat) and Juliet Capulet (a red hat) live in houses next door to each other but are sworn enemies due to the rift between their families. However, when Juliet attempts to steal an orchid from the Montague garden, her and Gnomeo have a chance meeting and instantly fall for each other. However, they know their forbidden love will have to remain a secret and try to have clandestine meetings in neighbouring gardens whenever they can. Will their relationship be able to survive the secrecy and lies that unfolds between the gnomes? Will Gnomeo and Juliet be able to prevent the tragic ending of Shakespeare original tale?!
Harry and his dad saw this at the Vue KidsAM cinema showing a few months ago, and both came out raving about it. It is now being shown again for the summer holidays promotion at Vue so I decided to take Harry along to see it again. He was more than happy to sit through a second showing of it, and I was really looking forward to watching it. Everyone knows the original Romeo and Juliet story, my favourite film being the Baz Luhrmann version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the star-crossed lovers, so I was hoping this too would be up to scratch, in a more child friendly way of course, and I was lucky that the film certainly delivered. Harry sat there rapt for nearly an hour and a half, and I had a pretty good time too!
This film boasts a fantastic cast and is even better because it is virtually all British! Some of our biggest names lend their voices to the film, and pretty much all of them are instantly recognisable when you hear their dulcet tones come across your telly. Playing the lead roles of Gnomeo and Juliet are James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. Now, I actually didn't recognise their voices not having seen them in anything else before, but I think they did a fantastic job with their roles. Both perform with gusto, delivering performances which perfectly suit their characters. McAvoy's Gnomeo is tough, butch and determined to find for the Blue Hats, yet we quickly see his softer side around Juliet, who is wonderfully voiced by Blunt. Her voice is clear, crisp and plays well against McAvoy's rougher Gnomeo.
Ashley Jensen plays Nanette the frog, who is Juliet's companion (the equivalent of Juliet's nanny in the play) throughout the film. Jensen is perfect for the role, her joyful voice capturing the frog's vivid personality and has a really playful element to it that works so well in a children's movie. Her and Blunt make a great team, and I enjoyed their scenes very much. Michael Caine is instantly recognisable as Lord Redbrick, Juliet's dad, you'll recognise that voice straight away! I love Stephen Merchant's take on Paris, Juliet's set up boyfriend by her dad. His voice is just funny without trying, and his scene where he starts to sing 'Your Song' to Juliet but is morphed into an Elton John character in Nanette's mind is simply brilliant, and very funny! Finally, I have to say Jason Statham is perfect as Tybalt, the butch Red Hat gnome always fighting to beat Gnomeo at whatever cost.
As you can see, it has a fantastic cast and they all do an excellent job. The soundtrack is something pretty good too. The film is partly made by Elton John's film company Rocket Man films, and the soundtrack is made up of his classic songs such as "Your Song", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" as well as some new songs penned by Elton for this film. The songs are all really well done, not just placed for the sake of it, and I felt "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was especially well used. I loved the original songs "Love Can Build A Garden" and "Hello Hello" which featured Lady Gaga, they both fitted fantastically into the films and are wonderful songs. I also have to speak about the animation which I think was really well done. It's no Disney Pixar, but I think it was great, the characters facial expressions are emotive, the action scenes well thought out and executed, especially the final scenes featuring the "Terraferminator"! It's set in a surbaban English street, in perfect English gardens and I think it just adds to the charm!
I think this is a wonderful children's film, and one I am very pleased to have seen. Yes, it's yet another retelling of a tale that has been done countless times but I really enjoyed this foray into it, seeing it through a children's eyes and without all of the sadness too! It's an emotional film, especially a scene with Featherstone the pink flamingo and a flashback to his previous life at his old house which had me welling up(!!), and of forbidden love but the comedy elements are there throughout to pick it up, and I could hear children in the cinema frequently laughing throughout the movie. Harry's a little bit taken with Juliet, and he can easily recall the plot and things which happen so I think the pace and plot is just right for children aged around 4 and over, although it will easily appeal to much older children too who will perhaps get other bits of humour younger ones tend to miss. I was really impressed by everything about this film, the animation, the voice cast, the soundtrack and the story - it all comes together to produce a fabulous movie which thoroughly entertained both Harry and I... I fully expect the DVD to make its way into our home soon enough!
Directed by Kelly Asbury
Written by Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith and William Shakespeare (play)
Running Time: 84 minutes
Main Voice Cast:
James McAvoy ... Gnomeo (voice)
Emily Blunt ... Juliet (voice)
Ashley Jensen ... Nanette (voice)
Michael Caine ... Lord Redbrick (voice)
Matt Lucas ... Benny (voice)
Jim Cummings ... Featherstone (voice)
Maggie Smith ... Lady Bluebury (voice)
Jason Statham ... Tybalt (voice)
Ozzy Osbourne ... Fawn (voice)
Stephen Merchant ... Paris (voice)
Patrick Stewart ... Bill Shakespeare (voice)
Julie Walters ... Miss Montague (voice)
Hulk Hogan ... Terrafirminator V.O. (voice)
Richard Wilson ... Mr. Capulet (voice)
Available on DVD for £9.97 from Amazon.co.uk (July 2011).
Thank you for reading.
Imagine my horror when my wife bought a friend of ours daughter Gnomeo and Juliet for her birthday only for the little girls mum to have bought the DVD as well, ok we can swap it unfortunatley that's when my nearly 3 year old spotted the front and wante d to watch gnomeo and jumpjets (how can you say no?) So we are now the proud owner of a Romeo and Juliet parody only with gnomes, it is a cartoon obviously or things really would be weird and features the music of Elton John
Gnomeo and Juliet
Gnomeo is a blue gnome, Juliet a red gnome the reds and blues have been warring for ages though no-one can remember why. The blues are in the garden of Mrs Montague and the reds are in the garden of Mr Capulet, the owners don't get on and the senior gnomes Lady Blue and Lord Red hate each other descending to calling each others names. Gnomeo is Lady Blues son and Juliet is Lord reds daughter, Gnomeo is a bit of a lad and Juliet a bit of a ladette, though Lord Red prefers her on the top of her pedestal and to not get into trouble. The pair of houses are on Verona drive and the film starts with a race on lawnmowers between Gnomeo and Tybalt, Tybalt cheats, beats Gnomeo, threatens Bennie Gnomeo's friend and as part of their revenge the two decide to invade the reds garden and extract revenge. The raid goes badly and Gnomeo has to go on the run and as a result meets Juliet who has escaped to pick a rare orchid in a derelict garden. The film then progresses on roughly the same lines as the famous play.
Success and failures
The main success of the film is the music score by Elton John lots of his famous songs are given an airing including crocodile rock, saturday's all right for fighting and Bennie and the jets. Along with those are two new songs, one depicts the first meeting between Gnomeo and Juliet and the other depicts the reason for the derelict house. The merger between the music and the sequences for the first meeting are in my opinion the best from any childrens cartoon, the music perfectly echoes the action and the action is perfectly paced for the music. Everything is light, fun and exciting and ends with a bit of humour and adventure.
The other successes are the placement of Emma Blunt as Juliet, her voice perfectly matches the vivacious and determined Juliet and a delightful performance by James McAvoy as Gnomeo. Along with those are the vocal skills of Michael Caine, Jason Statham and Hulk Hogan as the terrafirminator a large vicious grass cutting machine.
Failures - Well it is a bit dumbed down of course, any film with gnomes as characters from Romeo and Juliet is going to be a bit less intense, and of course we finally have the wish of Hollywood fulfilled with a happy ending for a tragedy. There are lots of Shakespeare references and the great man does appear though as a statue saying everyone will be dead by the end and you do get the feeling that this is all a bit of a re-branding for Elton John. The music is good but the first scene is about a race down an alley on a sunny day and the music accompanying it is "saturday is the night for fighting", then you realise that Elton is one of the producers and his husband David Furniss is the other.
Overall this is a bright breezy film, the gnomes have plenty of life and set in a Toy Story style universe where in the company of humans they instantly freeze into real garden gnomes, it does lead to a few thoughts from this adult about gnome life, i mean this is a romance after all. The music is far better than most childrens films and I enjoyed the film but did think it was a little long and the concept a little stretched but here's looking forward to a gnome re-telling of Hamlet or Macbeth.
I loved the idea of this movie as soon as I heard about 'Elton John at a premier' on the news! I knew there and then that it was a movie that I wanted to see.
For those of you who don't know, Gnomeo and Juliet is an animated movie which is based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet story. The movie was released in February 2011 and so is very recent. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt provided the voiceovers for the two main characters. There is also music from Elton John and Lady Gaga in this movie. The movie runs for eighty four minutes (just under one hour and a half). The movie is a U which means that it is suitable for everyone to watch.
The plot: Set in two gardens which consist of the 'red gnomes' and the 'blue gnomes' who are rivals. meet Gnomeo and Juliet, a young couple who fall in love overnight, despite a war between the reds and blues. Their relationship is put to the test, but will their love survive? Watch Gnomeo and Juliet to find out!
I loved this movie! It's so cute! I thought that it was a really clever idea and was cleverly put together! The plot itself is quite simple (it's about gnomes who come to life, a bit like the toys in Toystory), yet is so effective.
I thought that the movie was a brilliant idea, and thought that it was a great way of introducing Shakespeare to kids (although it is only loosely based on the real Romeo and Juliet). Whats good as well is the fact that there isn't any 'nasty bits' such as death in this movie, which were in the original Romeo and Juliet, which means that it is very kid friendly.
There are some great characters in this movie. I couldn't choose a favourite character, as they all seemed quite likeable (depite the rivalry between the gnomes). I thought that the pink flamingo was crazy, and I think that kids and adults will find this character to be very funny.
I really enjoyed the music in this film. Elton John wrote the majority of songs (Lady Gaga even gave a helping hand). I really like the songs and thought that they fitted in really well with the movie, and actually had a real purpose (not just an excuse to include a 'big name'). So great job Elton!
There are a few famous voices in this movie which include: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Matt Lucas and Julie Walters. I found it interesting trying to figure out who was who!
My only criticism concerning this movie was the fact I thought that it ended too soon! I suppose this itself can't really be considered a criticism, as it is a kids movie, and so I suppose in a way it is a good job that it wasn't too long, as kids would get unsettled. Although, for me I was enjoying it so much I didn't want it to end.
This movie is a fantastic family film; a film which adults as well as kids will love and enjoy. I loved this modern version of Romeo and Juliet.
If you have kids, make sure you see this! It's certainly one not to be missed!
Thanks for reading!
April 11th 2011
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted under xdonzx on ciao)
During the recent half term week I took my son and my sister to the cinema to see Gnomeo and Juliet which was something we were all looking forward to.
The film is based loosely around William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet but it is focussed on the goings on of garden gnomes rather than people! We beginI have just got b by seeing that there are two houses next door to each other, one blue and one red. The houses belong to the Capulet's and the Montague's and we see the two elderly neighbours bickering with each other from the onset. Both of the elderly people have immaculate gardens of which they are clearly very proud and within the gardens are lots of gnomes. In the blue house we have gnomes with blue hats, and in the red we have those with red hats. When the house owners are not around the gnomes are actively moving around, racing each other on lawn mowers and generally being at war!
Gnomeo is the main blue gnome and he is in charge of leading the battles with the red gnomes, in particular the nasty Tybalt. Gnomeo is voiced by James Mc Avoy and he plays the charming gnome well. One day whilst out of the garden Gnomeo spots Juliet, who is voiced by Emily Blunt and falls for her sassy ways immediately. I think it is quite cute to see the little gnomes fall in love so quickly as is the case in Romeo and Juliet too. Of course, it is going to be difficult for the pair to have a relationship when their families hate each other and so they consider running away to a different garden. However, their family's issues develop into something more serious meaning that the pair are separated and they must try and avert the tragedy we know from the Shakespeare play. Of course this is a children's film though and so we see no unhappy ending!
There are a lot of reasonably big names involved with the voicing of the characters in this film such as Maggie Smith who plays the leader of the blue gnomes, and gnomeo's mother, Ossy Osbourne who plays Fawn, Jason Statham as Tybalt and various others. All of the actors do a good job at voicing the characters and there is some real humour in some of the scenes which is purely down to the voicing I feel. The film features a lot of music by Elton John too and to be honest all I recognised was his music, but I didn't mind this as I think Elton has some good songs!
The animation in this film is good, although I have to say it doesn't really come close to the likes of Toy Story three for example. Despite this the colours are bright and pleasant enough to watch. We watched the film in 3D and to be honest I would advise those who wish to go and see it after reading this review not to bother. I can't say it enhanced the viewing of the film in any way and our tickets cost a couple of pounds more each than they would have should we have opted to see it in 2D.
Whilst we did enjoy this film I have to say I found it pretty disappointing that most of the funny and most enjoyable parts of the film are featured in the trailer and a lot of the rest of the film is just quite basic. It is easy to watch though and my son did not get bored through it but as an adult I felt slightly let down by it.
The film is rated a U and lasted for around an hour and twenty minutes which I think was an ok time for a film of this rating. As I mentioned my son did not get bored or fidgety through the film and he is almost six. I would think children a couple of years younger may get bored by the film though.
So comes my rating of the film....well I think I can give it three stars as it was just ok as far as I am concerned. It was easy to watch, the animation and voicing was decent but it was nothing to blow me away and when I pay to go to the cinema I want to really enjoy something. I would probably say unless you are desperate to watch this film wait for the dvd instead!
Thanks for reading my review!
*~*This is a film only review*~*
As a parent, most of my cinema visits are still to see films with my daughter. This I find a little depressing as long ago I was a film student yet my knowledge of modern cinema tends to be limited to films with a U or PG certificate, with the occasional 12 thrown in for good measure.
I recently took my daughter to see "Tangled" and before that film started, she saw the trailer for "Gnomeo & Juliet" and was most taken by it - surprisingly enough because of the fact Elton John's music features. My daughter may be 14, but she has become a huge fan of Elton John recently, following an "X Factor" show devoted to his music.
So during our recent weekend away in London I found myself at CineWorld in Hammersmith on a wet Sunday afternoon with her hoping to pass an enjoyable 90 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, "Gnomeo & Juliet" is based on Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet". However it is very loosely based on the bard's play - which is probably just as well given it's a kid's film and in my experience kids find tragedies "boring".
On Verona Avenue in suburban Stratford-upon-Avon, two neighbours are engaged in a feud. Miss Montague and Mr Capulet do have one thing in common - they are both keen gardeners. In the Montague garden you find an assortment of blue hatted gnomes whilst in the Capulet home, all the gnomes wear red hats. The feud has spread from neighbour to gnome, and the blues and reds have become sworn enemies.
Gnomeo Montague meets Juliet Capulet whilst both are outside their respective gardens and it's love at first sight. How can their relationship thrive in amongst the chaos and bitterness of a feud no-one can even remember the reason for?
In amongst a plethora of American produced computer generated animated films, it's rather refreshing to encounter one which has a British cast and is set in this country. The last one I can remember was "Flushed Away"".
However it's also worth pointing out that for all it's Britishness, "Gnomeo & Juliet" still isn't a patch on any of the Pixar films, despite a reasonably clever script and some good voice performances from the cast.
Our star crossed lovers are voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. McAvoy does a convincing enough cockney accent and Blunt conveys a combination of feisty and sweet in her performance. McAvoy conveys Gnomeo's at first rather cocky confidence well.
Ozzy Osbourne does a turn as an ornamental deer called Fawn but is a little underused. His funniest scene is shown in the trailer, which was a bit of a disappointment. Ashley Jensen is very good as Juliet's confidant, a ceramic frog called Nanette. Nanette is animated as an enthusiastic and excitable character and Jensen captures this perfectly in her voice.
Jason Statham is Tybold, Gnomeo's nemesis and he's suitably testosterone laden and deeply arrogant, while Matt Lucas is amusing as Gnomeo's loyal sidekick Benny. Stephen Merchant is very good voicing Paris, the gnome Juliet's father wants her to marry and Jim Cummings is excellent as Featherstone, a long neglected but deeply romantic plastic flamingo. Dolly Parton has a small but memorable cameo as Dolly Gnome.
The animation itself is colourful but lacks the sophistication of Pixar films. I saw the film in 3D and while I enjoyed it, I didn't feel it added anything to the overall enjoyment of the film. The character animation is good however - Patrick Stewart voices a very animated yet still very sober William Shakespeare and the animators have captured him well in a surreal kind of way.
Juliet and Nanette are probably the best animated of all the characters - Nanette the frog is a fast moving character and has a particularly expressive face and she just works brilliantly. Similarly, the animators have really captured the innocence of Juliet and when she is happy you can see it - when she's heartbroken that pain too is there for all to see.
The animated backdrops are not so effective, with many of them looking like half finished paintings. I think this is a pity - in Pixar films they capture landscapes just as well as facial expressions or the movement of an inanimate object and I wish the makers of "Gnomeo & Juliet" had taken a leaf from Pixar's book.
The script is good. Bear in mind this is a film predominantly aimed at children, so it's not going to be a faithful adaptation of Shakespeare's play, so don't take offence at the start of the film where a small gnome describes the play as "boring". Most kids DO find Shakespeare boring after all.
There are various Shakespearean references throughout the film, whether that be misquotes such as "a gnome by any other name" or the gag of naming a removal company Rosencrantz & Guildenstern. However this shouldn't be viewed as an introduction to Shakespeare for the very young - it's the adults who will get the Shakespearean stuff after all.
There is plenty of humour running through the film but it's more of the gentle kind so don't expect many laugh out loud moments although there are a couple. There are lots of visual jokes, including repeated use of a laptop computer which has a banana logo on the lid. Perhaps this was too subtle for my daughter however as she failed to pickup on it.
Elton John is an executive producer of the film, it being a co-production with Touchstone and his own Rocket Films production company. His music features prominently in the film and it's quite easy to spot refrains from his songs in the soundtrack as the film progresses, although several songs are played in full to great effect, the best being "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" during a lawnmower race between Gnomeo and Tybold.
For sheer comic value however, the scene featuring "Your Song" wins hands down - it being a mixture of Stephen Merchant's character Paris murdering it through the eyes of an unmoved Juliette to being Elton's classic version through the eyes of a smitten Nanette.
The pace of the film is brisk and director Kelly Asbury has, I believe, produced a film which if taken purely at face value, tells an entertaining and enjoyable tale. He is, I believe, right to take the tragedy from Shakespeare's original and instead add more comedy. Where there are scenes which touch on tragedy he handles them with genuine pathos resulting in some rather moving moments. These are balanced nicely with mayhem, humour and fighting however, which will keep children amused and entertained.
"Gnomeo and Juliet" is a film for children with some additional jokes for adults. It's great fun with a strong script and some excellent voice performances from its cast. The CGT animation isn't the best I have ever seen but nor is it the worst. The British setting and cast are an enjoyable change for children force fed a diet of American imports too. If you are fan of Elton John the soundtrack will be an added bonus and even if you are not, the music isn't so overpowering as to spoil your enjoyment.
My daughter absolutely loved the film and I quite enjoyed it to - which surprised me. I hadn't been expecting much of this film but I left the cinema with Juliet's soliloquy ringing in my ears - despite the fact it didn't actually feature in the film!