Sometimes you get a director who is so typecast that you know what projects would be perfect for them. Remember when Tim Burton announced he was going to Alice in Wonderland? Everyone thought it would work out perfectly and look what happened...
So when Baz Luhrmann announced he was going to be directing an adaption of The Great Gatsby I kind of thought go figure after what he's done with Romeo and Juliet and his romantic films like Australia and Moulin Rouge. However I always did have Alice in Wonderland in the back of my mind going into seeing this film. I would also like to state that I haven't read the book and that I haven't seen any other film adaptions, so going into this film I didn't really know what to expect.
The first thirty minutes of this film are frankly dreadful. Baz Luhrmann tries incredibly hard to nail down his technical style that he goes way overboard. The use of long, swooping camera shoots make the film look superficial and it doesn't fit the time period that it's set in. Which brings me onto my next point - the music. Jay Z has compiled the soundtrack for this film. I mean, REALLY? This films set in the 1920's, can someone please explain to me why the soundtrack is compiled of bad hip-hop music? Luhrmann has clearly done this because how well his modern Romeo and Juliet was received while still keeping the language of the play, but it just didn't work for me. It took me out of the film. I don't understand why they've gone to the effort of the mise-en-scene and locations if they're going to go modern with the music. It should have been a bit more jazzy and a little less Jay Z in my opinion (see what I did there?).
However, after the dire introduction the film picks up. This is for two reasons. One: Luhrmann doesn't rely on the music and odd camera movements as much and two: the introduction of the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. How this man hasn't won an Oscar I do not know. The character of Gatsby is such an interesting one as it is, but DiCaprio just takes it to the next level. He brings everything out of the character. The hopeless romantic, the completely obsessed wacko and the dangerous gangster, clinging to wealth.
Consequently, the rest of the cast puts in fine performances too. Tobey Maguire, for once, didn't annoy the hell out of me and put in a very good performance (although I still haven't forgiven him for ruining Peter Parker) and Carey Mulligan put in an impressive performance as Daisy Buchanan.
However, much of it annoyed me. Like I said before, the music just didn't fit the material - but it didn't stop there. I just didn't believe that this was set in the 1920's. I didn't really believe the setting. I felt like they were on set and I was never entranced into 1920's New York/Long Island like I should have been. I think the 3D element took the nostalgia from me too. I just don't think a period drama and an adaption of a very famous novel should get the 3D treatment. It's like chalk and cheese - it just doesn't fit. Also, the 3D is very non-existent. It's barely utilised.
All in all though, a successful film with some fantastic acting and for me, it's brought me into the world of Gatsby and I enjoyed the story thoroughly.