15 February 2011
GNOMEO & JULIET- Review
The story, for the uninitiated, involves the romance of two starstruck lovers- in this case, the intrepid blue-hatted Gnomeo and the curious red-hatted Juliet, who live in adjoining gardens owned by a Mrs. Capulet and a Mr. Montague respectively. The two neighbours quarrel, and so the gnomes and ornaments in each garden follow suit, feuding over who has the best garden and indulging in the occasional high-speed lawnmower race. As a narrator gnome establishes in the opening scene, "this is a story that has been told before, many times, and we're going to tell it again, but different."
All of my problems with Dreamworks Animation lie within their inconsistency. The pop culture references could be a lot more bearable if focused on a recurring theme, as with the medieval branding in Shrek 2. Their soundtracks, usually sourced from wildly eclectic but still recognisable songs, might sell CDs but doesn't suit the tone of the movie. This is why Dreamworks' only truly good films since the first Shrek are How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. In Gnomeo & Juliet, we have a no-brand animated film that keeps consistency in both its musical choices and its irreverent referencing, while carrying right on with being absolutely crackers.
It's no masterpiece, and it's certainly not above borrowing certain story beats from other, more popular animated films. Most flagrantly, an apparently emotional sequence midway through the film has diminished impact when you remember a very similar and more memorable sequence from Toy Story 2. Also from Toy Story, we get the idea that these characters are inanimate objects that come to life.
That makes them very breakable, and this imbues the entire film with a bizarre sense of jeopardy that's lacking in certain other animated family films. You may assume that this won't end in the same way as the source material, but a niggling doubt may manifest itself as the film goes on. It's presumably this eccentricity, uniquely British, that attracted the starry cast of British talent. While James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are competent but fairly interchangeable with other bright young stars, there's some nice work from Michael Caine, Matt Lucas and Ashley Jensen. Oh, and Jason Statham playing a gnome is everything I ever hoped it would be.
Gnomeo & Juliet is now showing in 2D and 3D at cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Gnomeo & Juliet, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.