FILM FANS: Baz Luhrmann takes 'Gatsby' over the top


Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star in "The Great Gatsby."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "The Great Gatsby." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 4 stars

In the latest interpretation of the classic masterpiece, "The Great Gatsby," director Baz Luhrmann brings a splendor to the screen that's almost impossible to rival, especially given the challenges of bringing the masterpiece to life.

In this faithful retelling, Jay Gatbsy, the mysterious multimillionaire who throws extravagant weekend parties, wears only the finest clothes and has the finest things money can buy, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Tobey Maguire plays Nick Carraway, the narrator and possibly only true friend of Gatsby's. Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin, is Gatsby's muse, his reason for the life he's so meticulously built, in the hopes he might win back her heart after leaving her five years earlier. Unfortunately, it turns out most, if not all, his life is one big lie and it's beginning to unravel.

Luhrmann masterfully shows us the dangers of excess, wanting too much and even having too much. Though at times the pace is too fast, there's never a shortage of intensity. It's an admirable and ambitious attempt at bringing Fitzgerald's beautiful words to life. The film is beautifully shot and perfectly scored with pumping music and choreography. Those elements, along with superb and passionate acting, make up for any shortcomings.

-- Ron Adams, Statham

2 and 1/2 stars out of 4 stars

"The Great Gatsby" is yet another adaptation of the novel that came out in the '20s. In regards to what happens in the book and what happens in the movie, it's extremely faithful. They did a good job creating the events that happened in the book. The movie doesn't quiet sell the emotional weight as the book does.

There are elements of this film that feel really bloated, overexaggerated and way too overproduced. Certain parts of this movie I thought were very impressive. The performances were very good, but everything felt too big at first. The movie, I think, modernized it too much to be able to sell the 1920s era, for example the whole movie was filled with Jay-Z music. Also, it feels like 75 to 80 percent of this movie was shot on a green screen sound stage losing a lot of the realism. Director Baz Luhrmann lost sight of the raw human emotion in the characters at the central part of the story to make the story work. This movie is not an actor's movie, but a director's movie unfortunately.

-- Brittany Wygladalski, Sugar Hill

2 and 1/2 stars out of 4 stars

"The Great Gatsby," is a timeless novel in its fifth movie incarnation. Almost as many lives as a cat, this was the perfect movie about nothing, just like that TV sitcom from the '90s. A visual extravaganza without much depth -- just like good summer movies should be. I saw this movie in 3-D and didn't feel any different if it would have been 2-D. It kept moving along at a good pace until about 75 percent through, when the character poker hands started to show and the action started to slow -- right about the time you started to suspect something was unraveling in the movie.

By now, you should have heard about this F. Scott Fitzgerald novel set in the roaring '20s showing characters of a trashy opera transcending the chaos of post-World War I doldrums and the excesses of filthy rich tycoons brought down by a road accident. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann, who took some extreme liberties using contemporary music. He had an all-star cast consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton. They sustained the interest of the movie and kept me awake for its entirety. OK for a rainy afternoon.

-- Alfred Richner, Duluth