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Feature


Those of you familiar with our previous 'mini reviews' will probably find this format familiar, as it's essentially the same thing with a different name. A lot of the mini reviews are actually quite long, so I figured that 'technical' was a better description than 'mini'. In any case this format is designed to dispense with the film criticism part and head straight to the technical assessment of the Blu-ray. So, pausing only for a brief plot synopsis, let's get on with it.

Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet (Julie Walters and Richard Wilson) are two elderly neighbours who despise one another and take enormous pride in trying to outdo the other’s garden. Their respective back yards are home to garden gnomes that come to life whenever their owners are away and the gnomes perpetuate the feud by committing acts of vandalism against their enemies.  However, all of this changes when one of Montague’s blue gnomes, Gnomeo (James McAvoy), falls for one of Capulet’s reds, Juliet (Emily Blunt). Unfortunately the star-crossed lovers’ romance faces almost insurmountable odds in the shape of their parents (played by Maggie Smith and Michael Caine) and the prejudices of their fellow gnomes in this animated film featuring an all-star cast of British actors.

Video


Gnomeo & Juliet arrives with a fantastic 1.78:1 widescreen (1080/24p AVC) transfer that looks every bit as impressive as you'd expect from the Blu-ray translation of a digitally animated feature film. Granted the film itself isn't as visually impressive as most of the big-budget animations from the likes of Pixar and their peers, but it has a certain charm and everything is nicely rendered with strong detail, impressive textures and bright, vibrant colours. Technically there's very little wrong with the image, with no obvious signs of compression artefacts, noise reduction, posterisation or edge enhancement. Of course film artefacts aren't an issue because of the digital-to-digital nature of the piece. I could spend an age banging on about the transfer, throwing around various technical terms, but in this case it's much easier to simply say that it looks pretty damn good.

Audio


A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the order of business here. Like the visuals it’s an impressive affair that delivers particularly well-rendered dialogue carried primarily through the centre channel, while providing ample ambient and discrete effects through across the rest of the soundstage. There are some nice touches during the action sequences, especially the lawnmower race at the beginning and the Terrafirminator rampage near the end, but even the incidental effects are impressive. Every one of the gnomes’ movements is accompanied by a ceramic effect and both blue and red gardens are alive with the sounds of water fountains, wildlife and more. Bass is a reasonably strong presence in a number of scenes, but perhaps not quite as ferocious as it could be. Music is also a big part of the track, although if like me you’re not a huge Elton John fan you might find the constant renditions of his hits start to grate a little. Even so this is a very good soundtrack that shouldn’t disappoint.

Extras


A modest selection of bonus material is included on the disc, but clocking in at under ten minutes combined it's not likely to win any awards. There are a couple of alternate endings with film-maker introductions, a 'Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen' featurette, 'The Fawn of Darkness' featurette and a 'Crocodile Rock' music video. The retail release will also come with a DVD copy of the film, but it was not included with our review sample so I can't comment on the quality.

Overall


I don't have kids and I don't like Elton John, so it's fair to say that I am clearly not a member of this film's target audience. With that said, I actually saw the film at the cinema because I took my friends' three young children (girls aged seven and eight and a boy of three), all of whom were utterly enthralled by the movie. I think that tells you a lot more than the opinion of a jaded thirty-something. If their reactions are anything to go by younger viewers will love the mix of comedy and mayhem, thanks largely to the bright colours and catchy music. Technically the disc is very good both visually and aurally, and even though the extras are a bit thin on the ground this is unlikely to bother the film's target audience.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Gnomeo & Juliet's Verona Drive
 Gnomeo (James McAvoy) plays Rambo
 Gnomeo (James McAvoy) & Juliet (Emily Blunt)
 Tybalt (Jason Statham) and Fawn (Ozzy Osbourne)
 Gnomeo (James McAvoy) & Juliet (Emily Blunt) relax
 Gnomeo & Juliet's cast of characters
 The Terrafirminator!
 Braveheart, Gnomeo & Juliet style!


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