What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
GNOMEO & JULIET 3D
Product Release: May 24, 2011
Audio: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English and 5.1 DDS French
Running Time: 84 Minutes
ON A SCALE 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3
3D Separation: 3
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 3
This 3D Blu-ray kicks some grass!
Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet and has become a
timeless classic, and certainly one of the author's most
popular plays. It has been re-imagined many times for
stage and screen, most notably in 1961 for West Side
Story. Now, once again, the tragic love story has been
re-imagined by the folks at Touchstone animation in
this newest film, Gnomeo and Juliet.
Gnomeo and Juliet was actually the brainchild of
Elton John, who served as Executive Producer on
this film. It is my understanding he spent the last
decade developing this children's re-telling with the
idea of using Gnomes for the subject matter of this film.
Personally, I think it was a brilliant idea as these
highly-underrated garden sculptures have gone mostly
unnoticed with, uhm, the exception of the more infamous
Traveling Gnome that has been roaming around with
Travelocity for all these years. Sir Elton John and the
animators certainly had a wide playing field before them
and they take every advantage of throwing in as many
ceramic and garden puns as possible, though most of the
humor that flies over kids heads will bring a smile to adults.
The Montagues and Caputlets are represented as feuding
neighbors living in a London suburb, each with a gardened
backyard filled with a variety of adorable gnomes who have
taken on the lead characters of the Shakespearean play.
These feuding Gnomes are represented as blue and red,
segregated into separate gardens divided by a huge wall.
The blue-painted Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) falls
in love with the red-painted Juliet (Emily Blunt) and both
must find a way to continue their relationship despite
the escalating feud between the two families. Juliet's cousin
Tybalt (Jason Staham) is faithfully represented as the
main antagonist in the story, a hot-headed gnome who is
bent on destroying Gnomeo and the rest of the blue gnomes.
Gnomeo and Juliet takes the source material, follows
it mostly through, but takes a few added liberties to give
the tragedy a happy ending -- all with the blessings of
Shakespeare himself (Patrick Stewart). After all, this is
a children's film where tragedy should be turned to happiness.
I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this film
going into it, as I believe it only had modest success at
the Box-Office and was released to home video almost
immediately. And though nothing about this film leads me
to believe it will be a memorable classic, I did manage to
have a fun time watching it. You'll instantly appreciate the
cast of voices here from the likes of Maggie Smith, Michael
Caine, Ozzy Osbourne, Dolly Parton and Hulk Hogan.
The clincher in really appreciating this film was its near
faultless viewing experience. This is a first-rate Blu-ray
and perhaps one of the best looking animated transfers
in recent memory. Firstly, the transfer is exceptionally sharp
and well detailed. This allows for the film's brilliant array
of colors within the gnomes garden world to vibrantly saturate
the screen. In fact, this is perhaps the most chroma-enriched
animation that I have seen.
Yet, despite the immaculate transfer, the 3D is only...well...
adequate. I haven't been able to find out if the film was rendered
specifically for 3D or upconverted in post, but the end result is
just average. There is definitely noticeable separation and at
times you get that nice cardboard cut-out look (for those like
myself who prefer that kind of thing). I felt as if the animators
could have made better use of placing their characters behind
objects that would lend to a greater perception of depth. Another
failing I found was that most all the 3D effects stay within the
confines of the screen with the exception of a few poke-outs that
include sticks, weed killer gun and a flamingo's beak. There
are some overhead shots above rooftops that give a spectacular
sense of depth but used only sporatically. There are some lost
opportunities with falling flower petals and dandelion seeds that
would have looked spectacular floating before the viewer's eyes,
but yet, never reach out beyond the display. That's not to say
that Gnomeo and Juliet is a total disappointment in 3D. I felt it's
use of the format definitely enhanced the viewing experience --
it's just not anything anyone's going to display as demo material.
It really disappoints me that when dealing with animation, you have
the ability to do some really cool 3D rendering and in the end, you
are not providing the audience with any "Wow" factor.
Fortunately many of the scenes that take place under the veil
of darkness do not suffer any ghosting issues. In fact, ghosting
is practically nonexistent here.
Gnomeo and Juliet features the music of Elton John whose
notable pieces of music are peppered throughout the film either
as instrumental or original recordings. There is also at least
one new song featured by Elton and his long-time collaborator
Bernie Taupin, though I have to admit it's pretty forgettable. Still,
for Elton fans, the film plays like a "greatest hits" tribute with songs
such as Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Don’t Go Breaking
My Heart, Rocket Man and Your Song,
Featured on this disc is a 7.1 DTS-HD soundtrack that was
downconverted to 5.1 on my system. There is excellent stereo
imaging to be found here and I was quite taken back by the
surround's ability to bring out the tiniest nuances in the effect
sounds. I mean, you can hear the crack of every branch as
the little gnomes race across the yard. Unfortunately, the one
complaint I have is that the audio lacks "punch." I mean, here
is a film filled with instrumental and pop score and it sort of
comes across as bland. For my personal tastes, I would
have wanted a little more LFE activity to give a little more kick
to the music. Otherwise, this is an active soundtrack certain
to embrace the viewer.
Gnomeo and Juliet arrives in a 3-disc Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray,
DVD/Digital Copy. The added content appears on the standard
Blu-ray disc and includes 2 alternate endings, deleted and
alternate scenes and a featurette.
Though it will never be considered an animated classic,
Gnomeo and Juliet succeeds as being a cleverly enjoyable
family film. The 3D is just average, and it's disheartening
that the animators didn't make better use of the props for
the format. Still, when considering the price difference between
the standard Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray, the latter is positively
worth purchasing. Bravo to Disney for doing such a wonderful
job on this transfer as it doesn't get much more beautiful than this.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer
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