Monday, April 28, 2014

The Great Gatsby (2013) - Review

Overblown?  No way!

The Great Gatsby is certainly a classic book, but it was never really one of my favorites (hello Wuthering Heights and Catcher in the Rye).  But even given its classic status, there hasn't been a very good adaptation of the source material.  Sure, there was the 70s version and the late 90s/early 00s version with Paul Rudd as Nick Carraway, but neither really did the book any justice.  So how does this version stack up?  Keep in mind that this was directed by the same guy who did Romeo + Juliet.  No, not Romeo & Juliet, Romeo PLUS Juliet.  The one with gunblades.  As you might expect, the movie is a bit on the zany side.

The first half of the film is insane -- in a good way.  There are all kinds of creative shots, interesting uses of music (including a ridiculous/cool saxophone sequence that has to be seen to be believed), and a challenging sense of style.  That word really sums up the first half of the film: challenging.  It's a bit too abstract to really appeal to the typical Hollywood blockbuster crowd, but there's also not THAT much substance for it to be an art film.  It's a bit directionless in its tone, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first half.  Not to mention that there are moments of pure awkward hilarity peppered in throughout.

Old spoaht, old spoaht, old spoaht
However... as the film progresses, it becomes less and less gaudy and more and more like you would expect a "The Great Gatsby" movie to be.  After the initial fun dies down, the movie becomes pretty "been there, done that".  Make no mistake, the acting is pretty top-notch; DiCaprio and Maguire are great as the two leads (as they always are), but the movie's second half lacks the sense of life that it had in such abundance in the previous half.

Other than counting how many times Leo DiCaprio says the term "old sport", there's not a lot of enjoyment to be had in the latter half.  I didn't count, but it has to be like... nearing a hundred.  It's a freakish amount.  It's not that it's a bad movie, but once you get past the first half, you know exactly how it's going to go; all the beats, all the little moments, everything.  And if you don't, just read the book instead, old spoaht.

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