Saturday, May 18, 2013

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby 3D

The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio,
Tobey Maguire


May 10, 2013

Baz Luhrmann

Warner Bros. Pictures

2 hours 23 minutes



Baz Luhrmann is like a man on an acid trip: he sees pretty colors and imagines glossy and stylistic things happening all around him in a spectacular fashion.  He portrays that in practically all of his movies, from the crazy "Young Hearts Run Free" sequence in 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet' to the first 30 minutes of 'Moulin Rouge.'  Now Luhrmann is back with his take on an adaptation of what's considered to be THE great American novel, 'The Great Gatsby.'  Instead of this film being a deadly serious and strict retelling of the book, the style of Luhrmann takes the story and turns it into a glossy, stunning, and exhilarating party film... for the first 45 minutes.  After that, the film does turn into a stylish yet serious drama that is captivating, but not as spectacular as the first 45 minutes.  Still though, the film is well acted, well directed, fascinating to watch, and overall an entertaining movie that brings the roaring 20's back in style.

The year is 1922.  The music is jazz.  The city of New York is jumping with parties and technology.  Nick Carraway has just bought a home in New York for the summer to spend time with his cousin Daisy and her husband John.  Next door to Nick is a huge mansion with lights flashing, music booming, and party's happening every single night.  The host of those parties is a man named Jay Gatsby, who is so mysterious that nobody knows who he really is, until Nick meets him.  From there, the two form an interesting relationship that also connects Nick's cousin Daisy, who shares a deep and intimate history with Gatsby.  Tales of love, friendship, partying, and adultery all fold out from there.

The acting in this film overall is top notch.  Leonardo DiCaprio I don't think has ever done a bad performance at all in his life.  With the character of Gatsby, DiCaprio loses himself and literally becomes the character so much so that we don't see Leo the actor, but we see only Gatsby.  It's not his best performance, but it does show how much range Leo does have and how he is without a doubt one of the best actors working today.  Tobey Maguire also delivers a strong performance as Nick Carraway. 

I believe that Maguire is one of those actors that, if given the right opportunity, could pull off an Academy Award worthy performance.  His performance as Carraway isn't deep, but there is emotion and it does show off a side of Maguire that was never featured in the 'Spider-Man' movies.  Joel Edgerton is also great playing the main antagonist of the story.  Ususally shown as a protagonist, Edgerton really shows his rangte in acting and proves that he can play more than just the likable hero.  Everyone else in the film, including Carey Mulligan and Isla Fisher, are all great.  It's the three main guys of the cast that really bring in the scene-stealing moments.

Baz Lurhmann does indeed have a certain style with his movies.  Even if one of his films stinks, it's hard to ignore how gorgeous and lush it looks, and how much the soundtrack pops.  With this movie, the first 45 minutes are the gorgeous, soundtrack-inducing montage that Luhrmann is known for, and damn is it a fun time.  The 3D is spectacular, and the soundtrack from producer Jay-Z is electric and works on so many levels.  Once we're introduced to the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy, though, the film slows down and becomes a compelling drama.  This is where the film gets weaker in quality.  The film doesn't get bad, per say, but it gets dull and a little boring.  It didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the film, but I wish that the film as a whole was as fun as its first 45 minutes.

Believe it or not, I have never read the actual 'Gatsby' novel prior to seeing this film.  In a way, I purposely chose to do this so I could be surprised with the twists and turns the book/film take.  I can imagine that the book is superior to the film, but having spoken with people who both saw the film and read the book, they said that this was an accurate enough adaptation of a once believed to be "unfilmable" book.  As a whole, the film is very enjoyable, but does drag on a little.  The acting is superb, especially from Leo DiCaprio.  Jay-Z's soundtrack sparks the film up and makes the parties shown in the film a lot more fun than they would with old-school jazz, not that old-school jazz is bad.  Luhrmann's direction is very good as a whole, but it does drag the film on a little too long and sometimes make you very antsy in your seat.  Overall, 'The Great Gatsby' may not be an ideal summer flick, but it is a very enjoyable, fun, and moving movie that you won't regret seeing, especially in 3D.


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