William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet [Blu-ray]
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Baz Luhrmann’s modern classic unfolds with its heart on its sleeve and guns ablaze. In this dazzling adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic love story, Oscar® Nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars opposite Claire Danes. They light up the screen as the original star-crossed lovers against a thumping soundtrack and a boldly imagined modern-day setting. A brand-new transfer from the original camera negative has been overseen frame by frame by director Baz Luhrmann for this Blu-ray release, making the film available in high definition for the first time.
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This bluray release deserves 3 stars tops. Why there is a 24.99 list price on this is beyond me. All you get with this release is the bluray disc in the case. This isn't a combo pack - there's no DVD, there's no digital copy, no booklet, no special packaging. There are special features but they really aren't anything groundbreaking - commentary, music, photos, some uncut footage. Honestly, movies with similar features sell for between $5-$10 regularly. For what you're getting I really wouldn't suggest paying more than $10.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure that too much of the acting in this movie was really award worthy, at least coming from Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. The standouts are in the minor roles played by John Leguizamo, Paul Sorvino, and Pete Postlethwaite. The directing was so overpowering, though, that this movie still manages to be a classic without particularly strong leads. Claire Danes's face and presence really seem to say something, but she really just doesn't have the talent. She is pretty and looks the part, but her part would have been better recast. Sorry to say. DiCaprio does ok here, but perhaps someone would have done better than him as well. As with a lot of actors in Shakespearean roles, I'm not sure he totally understands the emotionality and the dialogue. I take off one star and I'm not sure why, but I think the language may have made it hard to connect with the emotionality of the movie, and DiCaprio and Danes were a little bit wooden. It was slightly hard to connect with the emotional developments of the story. The big score here (and I mean big) is the stylistic side of this movie: the scenery, music, and frenetic, surreal, and campy tone. Amazing.
In any event, this movie still manages to be a sweeping and powerful tour de force for Luhrmann. It is a singular effort that keeps its gusto and inspiration alive from beginning to end. The creative drive for it was a stroke of genius for Luhrmann, and his trademark style works here the best for any of his movies, except perhaps for in "Strictly Ballroom." He had a notable swing and a miss with "Moulin Rouge," and "Gatsby" simply didn't quite pop, in spite of not being as bad as "Moulin Rouge." The idea that someone made this movie out of nowhere in 1996 was a revaluation. This movie is brilliantly creative, and everyone should see it!
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