By Michael Arruda
THE GREAT GATSBY was one of my favorite movies last year (see my post from May 12, 2013 for my full review). In fact, it made my Top 10 List for Best Movies of 2013 coming in at #9.
I liked it so much I decided it was already time for a second look, and so I checked it out again the other day on Blu-Ray. How well did it hold up?
Pretty well, actually.
The biggest difference between seeing it at the movies and watching it at home was the quality of the visuals. I saw it in 3D at the movies, and I was very impressed with the 3D effects. The visual splendor of the film is lost somewhat in 2D on the living room screen. Also, the fast moving camerawork which appeared smooth and perfectly natural at the theater was somewhat jarring on the smaller screen at home.
Bottom line: even though the Blu-Ray print was crystal clear, the film was nowhere near as visually stunning and impressive as it was in the theater.
The living room setting didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the controversial modern soundtrack, however. I still thought it worked.
The strong acting performances hold up as well.
I appreciated Tobey Maguire’s performance even more the second time around. His Nick Carraway is exactly the way I pictured him in Fitzgerald’s novel, and he really nails Carraway’s disillusionment with the people around him, as well as his growing affection towards Gatsby, a man he didn’t know what to make of at first.
And while I still enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio’s interpretation of Jay Gatsby, admittedly I was somewhat less impressed with DiCaprio’s performance during this second viewing. I didn’t find him as spot-on as I did the first time around. Don’t get me wrong. DiCaprio is still excellent. I just wasn’t wowed as much the second time. Maybe it was because of his more recent and even better performance as Jordan Belfort in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013).
Carey Mulligan is just as adorable at home as Daisy Buchanan as she was at the movies, and Joel Edgerton is just as shamelessly confident and coarse as her off-the-charts rich husband Tom.
And the parties are still just as vibrant and fun.
However, I still didn’t like the way director Baz Luhrmann handled Gatsby’s first appearance in the movie. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, and I liked it even less the second time. It’s probably the phoniest part of the movie, one of the few times the film doesn’t ring true.
I still like this version though, and prefer it to the 1974 Robert Redford version. Its biggest strength is that it does a good job bringing THE GREAT GATSBY to life for modern audiences, without sacrificing the integrity of the story.
It’s full of energy and oomph and really puts a charge into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel.
THE GREAT GATSBY was a must-see film at the movies, and it’s still highly recommended, even at home on Blu-Ray in the comfort of your own living room. The visuals may not translate as well, but everything else about this vibrant production still rocks.
So, go ahead and visit Jay Gatsby. Like the rest of the guests at his mansion, you don’t need an invitation.