An absolute tragedy!
David Zampino | Delavan, Wisconsin | 03/08/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Updating or modernizing a masterpiece is always a daunting task. Who remembers, for example, Mozart's re-orchestration of Handel's "Messiah"? For whatever reason, many people seem to think that re-writing or re-staging or re-plotting the Bard should be encouraged -- even in the most bizarre of directions. There have been some successes: "West Side Story" is a brilliant work of art. "The Lion King" is essentially "Hamlet" with a happy ending. (I'll let others decide if this was a good idea or not.)
But this "Romeo and Juliet" is an absolute disaster; an embarrassment; and would have the Bard spinning in his grave. Words cannot begin to describe how much I loathed this film.
Some re-makes work.
This one did not.
I think Shakespeare needs a drink
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 05/19/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As a mild reader of Shakespeare, I have seen filmed adaptations of only Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo & Juliet. Even though there are a few flaws attached to these movies, I still found them enjoyable, except for one. Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film adaptation of Romeo & Juliet is one that I can't really adore. The entire film is bloated with an overly stylish look and a modernization that looks to have gone too far. First off, I will say that hearing Shakespearean dialogue in a completely modern setting is very awkward. It really confuses the tone of the film: it's like hearing the dialogue from the Lord of the Rings trilogy in a contemporary sports drama. Old and new doesn't work well here. The lack of accents are even worse. Most of these actors sound odd when reciting the text, mainly because they don't have the perfect voices for it. I may be a bit picky, but hearing Shakespeare from modern characters sounds strange. The script could have at least had some contemporary phrases added in. The biggest problem I have with this movie, however, is the excessive style. The Capulet scene especially is overstuffed with colorful costumes and sets, and some dizzying camerawork. The melodrama in the quieter scenes are so overdone that they're actually silly. The heartbreaking ending is slightly over-the-top, but at least it's done quite well. Nonetheless, a majority of this film is a spectacle of style-over-substance, and I don't think Shakespeare would be pleased with it if ever he were alive to see it.
Maybe I'm just not a fan of Luhrmann. I've seen his other film, Moulin Rouge!, and I dislike it for some of the same reasons I dislike Romeo + Juliet. I do like the music and the supporting cast, but I don't care about everything else in the movie.