Plot: What’s it about?
If ever there was an actor destined to play Jay Gatsby, I’d have to imagine that Leonardo DiCaprio’s name would have been on the short list (and, obviously that was true). DiCaprio seems to have that classic look to him and call me crazy, but I could see him having drinks with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Gary Cooper. How’s that for an obscure reference? The Great Gatsby, of course, was one of the most prominent novels of the 20th century and has been made into a movie a few times. The original 1926 version was silent, the 1974 version saw Robert Redford take the lead role and now we’ve got Baz Luhrmann’s vision of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel. Debates will (and have) ensue about the better version, which was truer to the novel and so forth but having seen two of the three movies, I’d have to say that each has its pros and cons. I’ll also come out and say that it’s been nearly twenty five years since I’ve read the novel, so I won’t be doing any comparisons regarding how accurately this parallels the book.
The film is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). Nick, a veteran and recent graduate of Yale, has moved to New York to make it big in the stock market. It’s the 20’s and he wants part of the action. His next door neighbor, however, has a tendency to throw lavish and extravagant parties on a weekly basis. They attract the “who’s who” from the city. Nick finally meets his reclusive neighbor as Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who asks Nick to arrange a rendezvous with Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Daisy is Nick’s cousin and married to a classmate of his, Tom (Joel Edgerton). Nick obliges, and it’s not long after that Jay confesses his love for Daisy, a flame that’s never really died. Of course this doesn’t sit too well with Tom, himself having an affair with Myrtle (Isla Fisher). Of course, all of this leads to the shocking series of events and a shocking ending. This is…The Great Gatsby.
I’d mentioned that I haven’t read the book in quite some time, my Junior year in high school if memory serves. Truthfully I don’t think I appreciated it at the time, but after seeing the film I do have to admit that the praise lauded on it was warranted. Baz Luhrmann has done a fine job with the movie and I really don’t think many others could have taken this and turned it into something so contemporary. True, this is no Moulin Rouge! but that’s putting the bar a bit too high. DiCaprio has worked with Luhrmann before, in his pre-Titanic days (Romeo + Juliet) so this reunion, albeit 17 years later, might have come at the right time. Fans of the novel might be a bit polarized as to what to think. The elements are there, the cast is top notch and if the 20’s were as roaring as they were in this movie – I want in!
Video: How does it look?
If you’re looking for a film with pizazz, bright colors and everything in between, well then look no further. The Great Gatsby comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that’s second to none. Any fan of Baz Luhrmann’s will know what to expect (for the most part), but the costumes, set design and general ambiance of the movie look amazing. Detail is perfect, showcasing the perfect hair of Leonardo DiCaprio, the little sparkles of the dresses and even the twinge of the mysterious green light at the end of the dock. Contrast is solid and I noticed no noise in any of the scenes, nor did I notice any DNR or movement in the darker scenes. Truthfully this is just about as good as they come, so sit back and let your HDTV display this in all its glory.
Audio: How does it sound?
If you were’t appropriately dazzled by the way the movie looks, then perhaps the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack will be more to your liking? Anyone who’s seen Moulin Rouge! should know what to expect here – a lossless soundtrack that sounds simply amazing. Vocals are strong and rich, but what really takes the cake are the surrounds and the way they work with the LFE. The party scenes are amazing with seemingly every channel coming to life. The sound is rich and pure and it’s an energy that really helps the film move along. In comparison to the 1974 version, well, there is none. I’m willing to bet that Luhrmann was brought on board for this reason alone. A top notch effort that really never lets go.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This two disc set finds the DVD of the movie on one disc with the supplements on the main Blu-ray disc. We start off with a bevy of featurettes and “The Greatness of Gatsby” has director Baz Luhrmann talking about bringing this classic to life (again). “Within and Without” is more of a video diary by Tobey Maguire that has been edited into something of a seamless feature. Interesting, to say the least. “The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby” regales us with the diverse musical talent that’s showcased in the film with bits from Jay-Z, Beyonce and Fergie to name a few. “Gatsby Revealed” shows us five key sequences that really identify who he is. “Gatsby’s Party,” Disconcerting Ride,” “Daisy and Gatsby Meet,” “The Plaza,” and the “Pool Scene.” “The Jazz Age” shows us what life was like in the 1920’s complete with the extravagance, music and drinking that made it one of the more fun decades, I’m sure. “Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the 20’s” is more of a costume design featurette with the style and look of the movie. “Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry” is just that – how the book translated to the screen. We’re also treated to three deleted scenes as well as an alternate ending as well as a trailer, albeit for the 1926 version of the film. An UltraViolet copy is also included.
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