Romeo + Juliet (1996)

I never thought there would be such a thing as Shakespearean gun battles.

In director Baz Luhrmann’s contemporary take on William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, the Montagues and Capulets have moved their ongoing feud to the sweltering suburb of Verona Beach, where Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) fall in love and secretly wed.

I always have liked Shakespeare, and I think everybody, myself included, can at least say they love the classic story of Romeo and Juliet. But I never imagined the story to be played out like this mess.

The one thing I liked about this film was the direction from Baz Luhrmann. He directed one of my favorites of all-time, Moulin Rouge!, and that film had a very crazy, trippy, and all-over-the-place feel to it, as so does this. I liked the visual style Baz was going for here, and the vibrant, and beautiful colors he uses in this film create such a great taste of feeling, and wonder to the whole story and look.

However, his direction isn’t enough to save this ship from sinking big time. I couldn’t believe any of this, especially when these people would speak. The film is shot in modern time, but still keeping with the original olde English dialogue, and this was just a totally bad idea. Everything that these people said, just came out so unintentionally funny, or really cheesy. Leonardo DiCaprio is always great, and Claire Danes is a presence on screen, the only problem is, is that their not Shakespearean actors. Their emotions don’t capture the original text, and when they talk it doesn’t seem real. And besides, DiCaprio cried too much in this film, I mean honestly, the guy was making me laugh. The only person in the cast that I can think of that did the best job with the language, was Pete Postlethwaite. This guy knew how to capture the raw emotion, taste, and feeling that had to go into this character, for audiences to understand, and did the best job out of the whole cast.

I think the constant energy the film was given kind of took away from the original material. This was released back in the day of 1996, and its obviously for teenagers, of the MTV ages, and it just tries so hard to be hip, and cool with the young crowd, that it fails, at even conveying enough emotions to show the real beauty of the story. There are too many gun battle sequences, and random doses of high energy, that just takes this film to places we would have never imagined.

Consensus: It’s visual style may be great to look at, but the film gets lost with it’s ability of trying to be too hip, and doesn’t do it’s cast any favors, by making them sound like complete idiots.



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