Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

Based on the beloved novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby tells the story of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a Yale University graduate and World War I veteran, who explains his life living in New York during the '20's and his experiences with his mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). As Carraway recalls the story, he tells of his cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton), a college friend of Nick's, along with Daisy's friend, Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki). Living in West Egg, across the bay from Daisy and Tom's place, Carraway quickly becomes acquainted with Mr. Gatsby at one of his extravagant parties, pulling him into the secret life of his silent, but intriguing, neighbor. As the tale progresses, Carraway draws deeper into the secrets that Mr. Gatsby holds, along with his incredible rise to fame in New York. Nick eventually becomes the sole witness of a mass affair between Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby. Gatsby tries desperately to regain his former love, as Tom consequently loses both his wife and his mistress. Nick explains all of his tragic memories of Jay Gatsby and how this mysterious shadow of a man became Nick's greatest ally and also his most deceiving foe. 


Less than a month before seeing this movie today, I started reading this novel in utter belief that I would not finish in time to see the movie in May, knowing from previous occasions that I take a long, long time to read books normally. However, by some incredible luck or just the reason of it being such a short book, I read it and finished in May, hoping to see it that month. When that didn't happen, I waited and waited and saw Star Trek all the while until my dad finished the book, him wanting to see the film possibly more that me. So, how it turned out, we saw the film today as a Father's Day present and ended up loving it like we had anticipated. The film had everything I had hoped it would: Good acting, one great script (not shying away from the book at all), and amazing music and special effects (New York looked more dazzling than it ever did before). The book being quite decent and entertaining, I expected greatness out of a film like this, and that's exactly what I got. The actors were perfect for the roles (Tobey Maquire becoming an amazing Nick Carraway, just as Paul Rudd did in the 2000 version of the film), and also the way the great Baz Luhrmann made the film flow was an interesting way to make the story fit into a 2-hour slot. 

Playing the amazing, mysterious, determined, and of course, great Gatsby, movie legend Leo DiCaprio returns for another dazzling Oscar-worthy performance. From reciting Shakespeare with Juliet to playing cat-and-mouse with Tom Hanks to flying through the skies as an aviator to dream-jumping toward limbo, DiCaprio has basically done it all. Now, when he's asked to play a troubled millionaire who lives in New York in the '20's, he doesn't hesitate to get another chance at an Oscar. Among countless others, from Johnny Depp to Tom Cruise, Leo ranks in the top ten of my favorite actors, never giving anything but his best when he performs. Another actor who I can't leave unnoticed is Tobey Maquire, the intelligent and witty writer/bond salesman who narrates the profound tale of meeting Gatsby. Maquire, who I've rarely seen on the big screen since he was shooting webs and swinging through the Big Apple as a so-called "man-spider", performed excellently as Carraway, giving the story a genuine, yet troubled, voice that seemed believable. In Spider-Man I, II, III, Maquire became an amazing (no pun intended) superhero, but failed to catch the audience as a good Peter Parker. I can say with great belief that Maquire did a beautiful job depicting the troubled and mortified Nick Carraway in this film, giving the story a nice flow to it. 

With all films these days, there's one thing people may notice other than the actors and the special effects, and that's the music. If you've seen Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy or even any musical for that matter, you know that the music makes the movie most of the time. When you have a chase scene for instance, you want to hear some dangerous and fast-paced music (say a rockin' drum beat or something), not nothing at all...now that would be boring. In this film, music was a bit of an issue on directer Baz Luhrmann's part. He needed to have a '20's feel to the movie, but still have interesting music to catch the audience. To do this, he envisioned the World War I era to have a bit of rap in it, and by rap he of course means the likes of Jay-Z. While some think of it as a downfall for the film, I think Luhrmann and his team added just the right amount of Jay-Z and at the right times to make it fit perfect into the flow. While the rap music was good and all, the other artists like Florence and the Machine, Jack White, and the Fergie/Will.i.am team brought amazing music to the film, from bringing out the party scenes to making a fatal hit-and-run feel even more frightening than it actually was. 

Overall, The Great Gatsby was an amazing, dazzling, and memorable film for the year 2013. From its many past adaptations, starring the likes of Robert Redford to Paul Rudd, this book has definitely sparked some kind of movie gold as everyone seems to want to get their hands on a genuine story like this one. The plot is very interesting and the way Luhrmann portrayed the characters, locations, and even the cars was incredible in its own unique way. 

I gave this film a 9 out of 10 because it had a great story from a great author, interesting music selections, and a good amount of tense moments here and there (Ex. Gatsby's angry fit toward Tom...now, that's intense). All the while, this film made a perfect Father's Day gift for an amazing dad. Happy Father's Day! 

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