After waiting for what seemed like forever (the movie was originally scheduled for release on Christmas of 2012), I was finally able to see The Great Gatsby last weekend. I don't remember most of the books that I read in high school, but Gatsby has always been the one that I've remembered the best. Not necessarily the entire book, but the themes, the symbols, and of course Jay Gatsby, have always been in my mind, even after all of these years. As most of you know, Leonardo DiCaprio is my favorite actor and once I heard ol' Midas was playing the roll of Gatsby, I knew there was absolutely no way this movie wouldn't become an instant classic. Alas, I've been had.
Let me begin by saying that Baz Luhrmann's visuals are absolutely stunning. Everything from the vast acres of lush foliage that cradle the Buchanan's mansion in East Egg, to the breathtaking fireworks that explode in the night sky across the bay just off the coast of West Egg, not a single penny went unsaved in the visual effects department; but I'd expect nothing less from the man who brought us movies like Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. Not to be outdone by all the glitz and glamour of the visuals, the soundtrack which boasts the likes of Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Beyonce, and The XX, just to name a few, is sure to have every skinny jean wearing, grande soy milk macchiato sucking, "i had this haircut before skrillex", hipster pissing their pants. I'm serious, this movie was built for tumblr.
All that being said, a good cut of beef is only as good as it's seasoned. The Great Gatsby is the equivalent of a chef throwing a piece of kobe beef on the grill with absolutely no seasoning whatsoever. Sure it's good, but it had the potential for greatness. While the movie does an overall decent job of staying on pace with the book (from what I can remember), it seemed like Luhrmann spent too much time focusing on the themes, almost as to say "remember this part from AP English guys? REMEMBER?" instead of giving us seasoning to go along with those themes that we already know about. A romantic montage hardly ever conveys the message that would be best suited with real scenes with actual dialogue. Luckily, we have a full cast of talented actors that save this movie from what was destined to be a surefire upset.
Maybe even outperforming Leonardo DiCaprio (a phrase that's never ever come out of my mouth, ever) comes Joel Edgerton playing the slithery scumbag you love to hate, Tom Buchanan. As much as I love Leo, Edgerton's uncanny ability to get under the audience's skin is what anchors this movie at it's best moments. Another unexpected bright spot was newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Daisy's best friend Jordon Baker. She has a charming quality about her that keeps the audience engaged. As for Daisy, as much as a I like Carey Mulligan as an actress, I was a bit underwhelmed by the interpretation of Daisy that she was given to work with. I would've liked to see her character be given a little more of a backbone. I understand we're talking about the 20's and women were still objects without much of a voice but along with the quasi-modern feel of the movie, I would've liked to see a bit more personality and less "rag doll being pulled between two pitbulls". As far as Tobey MaGuire's performance as Nick Carraway... it's exactly what we've come to expect from Tobey MaGuire. Tobey MaGuire is the Fresca of Hollywood actors; not terrible but not amazing, yet always there because for some reason, people lIke him. I might be picking on him a bit, but if anything else, he did a fine job as a narrator.
While The Great Gatsby didn't necessarily live up to my great expectations, it was still a good movie. Good, not great. I really would've liked to see what a director like Christopher Nolan would have done with this. Maybe keep Luhrmann on board for visuals but I really think Nolan could have worked wonders with this film. Oh well, enough of the what if's. If you do choose to see this, I urge you to forgo the extra $3 for 3D and go with the 2D version. I was severly disappointed in the lack of "oh shit that's tight!" moments in the 3D version of the film.
Until next time, Old Sport.