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Great Gatsby, The (3D Blu-ray Review)

28 Aug, 2013 By: John Latchem

Box Office $144.84 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD combo
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki.

There’s no mistaking this incarnation of The Great Gatsby as anything but a Baz Luhrmann film. The original masterwork by F. Scott Fitzgerald has certainly provided more than enough inspiration for a director known for infusing his films with an abundance of flashy spectacle.

Here, Luhrmann sets out to make the ultimate tribute to the Jazz Age, a term coined by Fitzgerald himself, by staging a series of elaborate parties hosted by the title-character playboy with more than enough immaculate excess to symbolize the overindulgence of the 1920s. Adding to the sense of fun is the use of hip-hop and other modern musical styles to accentuate beats of traditional jazz, which Luhrmann discusses in the bonus materials as his way of simulating the excitement that jazz originally brought to the era.

Tobey Maguire stars as Nick Carraway, who finds himself overwhelmed by all that New York has to offer, especially after being befriended by his mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has taken a romantic interest in Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan). Nick is also friends with Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), who is not very discreet about his own infidelities. At the heart of the conflict is the rift between those such as the Buchanans whose wealth has been established long ago, and those such as Gatsby who more recently found wealth and aren’t afraid to show it off.

The superfluous 3D effects are mostly intended to enhance the visual momentum, but Luhrmann’s rapid pacing and focus on splendor easily overwhelms the romantic context of the story, though doesn’t entirely supplant it, which should make the film accessible to a wider audience. Aside from the anachronistic music, Fitzgerald purists may be more bothered by Luhrmann’s use of a framing device that allows him to utilize Carraway’s first-person narration from the book.

The Blu-ray includes about two hours’ worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes covering all aspects of the production, with emphasis on the music and visual effects. The disc also includes several deleted scenes containing filmed material from the book, with Luhrmann explaining why they didn’t quite work for the film.

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