So last time we ended up watching 2 versions of Romeo and Juliet. One from 1968 and another from 1996. While most of you seemed to agree the older one was ok but nothing special, you were VERY divided on the 2nd versions. I thought I might be fun to see the critical reaction to that second version.
If right before bedtime one were to watch rock videos, read Shakespeare and eat some really bad food, the ensuing nightmare might be exactly like “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” a monumental disaster.
The picture, which opens today, was directed by Baz Luhrmann (“Strictly Ballroom”) and updates the play by placing it in a stylized modern setting and giving it a loud, rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. The result is embarrassing: quick cuts and shaky, hand- held camera work, bad acting and lots of attitude.
-San Francisco Chronicle
Skinheads, drag queens, and leather-boy desperadoes. Silver designer pistols that look as if they were engraved at a Rodeo Drive boutique. Gunfights and brawls edited with such whiplash abandon the images might have been cut together by a straight razor … William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a slick blast of ”decadence,” the kind of violent swank-trash music video that may make you feel like reaching for the remote control.
Baz Luhrmanntripped the light funtastic with “Strictly Ballroom,” a fluid, freewheeling Australian comedy about ballroom dancing. But with “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” he puts Shakespeare’s greatest romance in a choke-hold and takes it slam-dancing.
The movie, a frenetic, explosive experience full of car crashes and gun battles, is original and exhilarating. But more often, it’s so overwhelming, it’ll make you want to watch “Die Hard With a Vengeance” for peace and quiet.
Luhrmann’s gleefully cinematic version of the play is so relentlessly inventive and innovative, it takes 20 minutes to get a grasp on how appropriate is his approach to the material.
-Time Out New York
Luhrmann bombards us with startling images, audacious camera tricks and breathtaking action … [in order to recreate] the overwhelming experience of adolescent love.
It’s a rotten shame there is no Oscar for Audacity, because filmmaker Baz Luhrmann would win it in a walk.The Australian director-producer-co-writer of Strictly Ballroom has chucked all manner of timeworn Shakespearean conventions in his sexy, explosive, magical new version of Romeo and Juliet. At the same time, despite liberal cuts, he uses the Bard’s poetry with respect.This film is an amazing feat of ambition and imagination.
OTHER MODERN TAKES