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The Movie: 7/10
Jazz, indulgence, decadence, all words I associate with the 1920’s. The Great Gatsby is a story that doesn’t tell a true story of the era, but feeds that fictional image of the glitz and glamour and vivaciousness of those years. A roaring culture of partying and hopeless romance steeps in this story. Boy meets girl, boy goes to war (WWI), girl marries someone else, boy wants to impress and win girl back by amassing a huge fortune, girl is hapless female torn between two unappealing men. That about covers it. I mean, this is based on a book from 1925, when women were rarely portrayed as more than sex pots or damsels in distress, so it’s not shocking or anything. This is the deal though, this is the 21st century and telling stories from almost a hundred years ago does give us some artistic license. I don’t think Baz Luhrmann knows exactly what a strong female character really is, his are always the romanticized troubled tormented torn tragic figures. That’s an element of this movie I am not a fan of. There are a few others.
The look of the movie is fun and dynamic, and I do have a very graphic art oriented brain, so it’s always a treat to see the art deco of the age. This film is covered from head to toe in chevrons and sun bursts. This is the thing about a Baz movie, it becomes more about the style and less about the substance. I got fixated on the non-3D bits and pieces that were distracting. I know that part of the imagery is supposed to be a touch surreal and harken back to the movies of the 30’s and 40’s with that strange background and dreamy quality. It just didn’t do much for me.
The performances are awesome, of course. There is that over acting that happens when Lurhmann is at the helm, the theatrical temperament comes out now and then which I don’t like at all, it just doesn’t do much damage overall. I don’t like the literary pout of the female characters, clearly contrived by a man. For what this movie is, a dramatic retelling of a dramatic story from a dramatic novel, well, it lives up to all that.
I had fun watching it, and yet when it’s over nothing remains. I don’t want to watch it again, or not anytime soon anyway. It doesn’t have a story that makes me think or endears me to the characters so much that I think back about them like I have for other films. I would say, without being cruel, it’s empty calories for me. A very delicious sumptuous chocolate cake that promises a lot, and then when it’s gone it’s gone.
A decadent romp in the 20’s is fine with me. It put a smile on my face a lot with its design and even though it didn’t make an impact on my movie loving brain, it was fun while it lasted.
- The Greatness Of Gatsby – Baz Luhrmann takes us through the process of adapting the classic novel for the screen in this 9 minute featurette.
- Within & Without – Tobey Maguire does his best Vlog impression as he takes you around the set with a handheld camera.
- The Swinging Sounds Of Gatsby – The remarkable soundtrack uses a lot of todays artists. Director Luhrmann tells us why he chose Jay-Z, Lana Del Ray, Florence & The Machine and many others.
- Deleted Scenes With Alternate Ending – Three deleted scenes and a new ending, Luhrmann talks you through each.
- The Jazz Age – A look back at 20’s New York with clips from the PBS documentary.
- Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion Of the 20s – The costumes of the movie. I have to admit I didn’t watch this bit.
- Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry – A featurette that deals with making Gatsby in 3D.
- 1926 The Great Gatsby Trailer – A short trailer for the 1926 version, I would tell you to go watch the entire film but you can’t as the film elements were lost along the way.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
I wouldn’t have this as a poster, it’s boring. Yes, boring. I really like Leonardo DiCaprio, however, his face on a cover doesn’t do anything for me. This movie has SOOOOO much to offer in the visual department, why the hell would you put a human face on it?
Audio & Video: 8/10
This is a dazzling and amazing 1080P AVC transfer that brings Baz Luhrmann’s stunning vision to life in glorious High Definition. Luhrmann uses a very stylistic look for the film and uses copious amounts of CGI, a lot of the movie looks kinda fake and weird but that is a stylistic choice and not unfamiliar for fans of his work. The actual transfer itself is very faithful to the theatrical presentation, I saw no ringing or DNR, there is a little noise in the image here and there but mostly around the edges in the green screen areas of the movie.
Warner’s DTS-HD Master audio track makes this vision of the 20’s come to life. Questionable music choices aside the atmosphere here is second to none with some rich enveloping sound that really needs to be enjoyed via a 5.1 surround system. If I had an issue with the audio and it’s no fault of the disc there is some horrible ADR/looping issues with the film. When we first see Leo take Tobey for a drive it looks like they are saying totally different lines. I am nit picking though this is one of Warner’s finest audio presentations to date and you will be hard pressed not to enjoy it.
For me The Great Gatsby is a rental, no hesitation. It’s worth an evening of glamor and glitz, just not the full price of the Blu-Ray. If you are pretty sappy for the singing and dancing and DiCaprio and the fantasy of it all, you might want to purchase it for your collection. I would watch this with a chaser of The Untouchables, to keep the theme alive but with a different look at that decade. If you wanted to go all documentary on me, watch Ken Burns The Dust Bowl and Prohibition. They are quite a commitment, but worth it for all the stuff you will learn that’s not in the romantic novels of the early 20th century.
Overall Score 7/10