The Great Gatsby (movie review)

the-great-gatsbyWe saw The Great Gatsby in 3D, and I have to say, it’s the most visually stunning 3D movie I’ve ever seen – and it’s a good flick, too.

This version of Gatsby seems to divide people – some enjoy it, some don’t, and there are several reasons to support both sides of this argument. I enjoyed it – not just because I’ve enjoyed Baz Luhrmann’s other films (the few I’ve seen, at least), but because I felt they captured the overall tone of the novel and presented the characters in the way the novel does. I’m sure many disagree with this sentiment, but I think that’s why I enjoyed the movie – it felt right, despite all of its bells and whistles. I thought they hit all of the key scenes from the novel perfectly, and that’s what the strength of The Great Gatsby story is.

Let’s dive in.
Before we get into spoiler country, lets score this bad boy. I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby and plan on seeing it again when it hits Blu Ray, so I’m going to give this an 9 out of 10.

spoilers ahead…

The Performances
To start with, the movie was very well cast in the respect that they chose actors who were very well suited to the roles they were given – no one seemed outside of their comfort zones, but instead, well within their element. Leonardo DiCaprio was twice the Gatsby than Robert Redford offered us (boy does that version stink), and Tobey Maguire almost made me forget he was Tobey Maguire – almost. Carey Mulligan was just what I was looking for in Daisy and Joel Edgerton was equally so as Tom. I’ve heard high praise for Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker, and I don’t have anything bad to say about her, but she didn’t grab my attention. I didn’t love Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson – didn’t hate her, but I thought that was a scene stealing role opportunity for the right person, but it didn’t happen here.

The Soundtrack
I know some people thought the 21st Century music conflicted with the film, but I thought it was a great juxtaposition of musical styles and also helped show a similarity of the Roaring Twenties and the modern party life of the social elite. But I’m really just thinking these things in retrospect – at the time, I wasn’t especially conscious of the music on that level.

The 3D, CG and other visuals
Generally, I don’t enjoy 3D movies – they’re usually too dark (this isn’t nearly as big a problem as it was a few years ago) or I just don’t see any third dimension, but Gatsby rocked the 3D beautifully. They must have filmed this flick with 3D cameras and meticulously framed every shot, because even when it was just a few people sitting quietly in a room, the 3D was rich and vibrant. I think this was also aided by the rich color pallet that you get in a Baz Luhrmann movie, and when you mix in some crazy CG, you get a feast for the eyes. Sure, some of the digital fireworks didn’t look great, but it was more about the color they provided in the image than the actual idea that they were representing actual fireworks. Some of those digital helicopter and crane shots weren’t great, either, but again, it was more about what they provided from a color standpoint more than accurately representing a real object.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that the visuals worked for me, flaws and all.

The Framed Tale Element, voice over and text on-screen
I haven’t read the book in some years, so I don’t have great recall of the text, but I believe that at the end of the story, Nick moves back home and doesn’t go to a sanitarium, like he does in the film and tell his story to some shrink who encourages him to write it down. While I was watching the film, I was happy to see where this was going, but overall, I don’t think this framed tale element worked very well. I always believe that less is more, and in this case, I think just showing an older Nick, sitting by himself in a location that was clearly not New York City and using voice over throughout, I think that would have been fine. Inventing the doctor character seemed like a waste of everybody’s time. But overall, I was happy with the voice over, though the text on-screen was a little much, but that’s Luhrmann’s style – go big, go all the way.

No time for you, Jordan
The Jordan Baker element is largely missing from the movie, but that’s OK – it doesn’t really develop Nick’s character much and we’re already clear where Nick was emotionally at that point in the story, anyway. In a novel, there’s time to pile things on, but that’s harder to do in a flick – especially a Luhrmann movie.

What happened to the car accident scene?
In the trailer, there are some really cool shots of the car accident, particularly a profile moment of impact that I thought looked great. Sadly, the shot doesn’t appear in the movie, which totally sucks.

If you missed The Great Gatsby, I certainly recommend you check it out and if you saw it – well, I’m looking forward to seeing it again. Again, Gatsby gets a 9 out of 10.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on June 20, 2013, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. If you like the book, then I might recommend seeing it just to see how it holds up as a film. Good review Jamie.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: