Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has made a name for himself as a director with enough visual flair and creative artistic design for several directors, and he cemented this reputation with 1996's Romeo + Juliet.
An iconic (if not entirely faithful) adaptation of William Shakespeare's best-known play, the movie featured Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes at the height of their young heartthrob years. It was a big success and has remained a cult favorite for decades, and here's a few reasons why.
Leo and Claire as the titular couple
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes have come a long way since playing the baby-faced star-crossed lovers, but this is how we still love remembering both actors.
John Leguizamo as Tybalt
Tybalt, the Prince of Cats, is one of the most over-the-top and violent Shakespeare villains in the Bard's bibliography, and John Leguizamo gives him a performance to match. Turning the brute into a Latino gunslinger, this is still our favorite version of the character.
Harold Perrineau as Mercutio
Mercutio is a larger-than-life comedic genius of a character, and the second Harold Perrineau shows up in drag for the party at the Capulets' estate, it's obvious that he's perfect for the role. His costumes, mannerisms and lines are all amazingly over-the-top, and we love him for it.
We're done with the actors, so let's look at what we love about the movie itself...
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its art and set design, and it's easy to see why. Every shot of the movie looks like Shakespeare meets a neon fever dream, and it's one of the most distinctively awesome things about the movie.
The costumes are just as colorful and ridiculous as the sets, and it makes the whole thing just so much more memorable. The party scene is especially great for this.
Baz Luhrmann knows a thing or two about movie soundtracks, as he's continued to prove with movies like Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. Romeo + Juliet is no exception, and the soundtrack has some genuinely great stuff.
The goofy modernizing of the story
The opening chorus is done as a news broadcast! The "swords" are now pistols labeled "Sword 9MM Series S!" What's not to love about this? Yeah it's goofy and kind of cheesy, but it's a ton of fun.
The over-the-top action
Between all the gunfights, car chases and overacting, Romeo + Juliet could almost fit into the Fast and the Furious franchise if it wasn't for the Elizabethan English. It might not be reverent to the source material, but it makes the movie a great watch.