A retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet fable acted out with garden gnomes with an innocently child friendly twist. With the voice talents of Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ozzy Osbourne. Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart and Matt Lucas.
Animation has come a long way, it is remarkable what animated film producers and directors can do with current graphic effects and Gnomeo and Juliet is a fine example of that notion. With terrific use of light and texture, the gnomes themselves look convincingly ceramic and the gardens are vibrant and seamless. A great interpretation of colour and vibrancy brought to focus by the very subtle use of 3D. The 3D in this movie serves as a complimentary device and not a key element in the plot. It effectively creates a level of depth perception that makes the viewer feel like they can walk straight out onto the stage and run freely in the world that’s created, this could be the most impressive I have seen in that respect but that’s where my positive opinion of the film ends.
An animated film that is made nowadays is not simply aimed at children, they spend so much money making the film with its thousands of graphic designers and editors working on each frame simultaneously, the studios would want to reach every wallet possible. It confuses me then that, with some studios not enough emphasis is placed in making the plot seem clever and sophisticated enough to appeal to everyone and not just children. Being a Touchstone picture and not either a DreamWorks or Pixar release, comparison is a bit harder to muster. I would say that it is closer to a DreamWorks picture in the fact that the humour seems to be aiming for the silly and childish tricks rather than the clever and charming universal humour that Pixar aim their films around. All three studios are enormously popular and successful but only one will create films that are timeless. When you rely to heavily upon pop culture references and sight gags the film is forgettable and hardly as affecting in ten years time. Easy gags and adult references are not subtle enough in Gnomeo and Juliet and I found myself realizing that the humour aimed at me was cringe worthy.
There were a few memorable characters. I know it’s hard to create an original premise around an existing and exhausted entity like Romeo and Juliet, but Gnomeo and Juliet managed to only loosely base the story around the tragedy, which is lucky seeing as the ending would otherwise have traumatised a cinema full of kids. The most interesting part of the film was guessing all the voice work; pretty much every famous English actor lent his or her voice to this movie and it distracted me from what was actually going on. Most voices were really easy to pick like Michael Caine and Maggie Smith but others were a bit trickier. The selling point of an animated film should not be how many awesome actors you have on board for the picture it should be about the quality of the story and characters they compliment. Although I’m sure that the kids don’t really care who voices the flamboyant flamingo just that he keeps falling over and whaling in an over exaggerated Spanish accent. I also noticed that throughout the whole film the score is comprised of various Elton John songs, and he even has a cameo in the film (of sorts), this confuses me in that I’m not sure what the overabundance of Elton John in Gnomeo and Juliet was supposed to prove; does Elton John love Garden Gnomes? Are Touchstone Pictures commenting on how Elton John is a loveable garden gnome? It was an odd choice and I’m getting pretty sick of hearing “Your Song” in movies.
From an adults perspective Gnomeo and Juliet was disappointing seeing as Pixar and DreamWorks have set the standard so high now. If I were a child I would have laughed at some of the characters and the silly things that they say and the very vague reference to Borat and then I would have begged my Mum to buy me a garden gnome and then completely forgotten about it in a week. The animation was spectacular but that just isn’t enough anymore. Children will love this movie and garden enthusiasts may need to watch their garden gnomes because they may be at war with your neighbour’s. A plague on both their houses!
I give Gnomeo and Juliet 3 out of 5 stars
Gnomeo and Juliet opens on the 17th of February 2011