Blu-ray Review: Lavish Release For Frustrating ‘The Great Gatsby’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – God, I want to love “The Great Gatsby,” on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. tomorrow, August 27, 2013. I adore “Moulin Rouge!” and think Baz Luhrmann’s approach to the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic was a daring one. And, watching the film again at home, in a great 2D/HD transfer instead of a garish 3D one, I found more to respect here. The film’s flaws were amplified in 3D and they’re allowed to blend into what works on Blu-ray. The special features also amplify the work by illustrating the incredible amount of detail and work that went into the production. I still can’t get over some of the mistakes made, like nearly every decision made by Tobey Maguire, but the Blu-ray gets me closer. Blu-ray rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

From my theatrical review:

I wanted to love “The Great Gatsby.” I’m a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s passionate, romantic view of cinema. Even a misfire like “Australia” was a mess because Luhrmann tried to make too many movies at one time, stuffing them all into a bloated epic. It was an error of passionate moviemaking. This is the first time in Luhrmann’s career that I’ve felt like the style, the glitz, the glamour were actually hiding a lack of depth instead of pushing forward the passionate vision of the man behind it. Luhrmann feels lost at one of Gatsby’s parties, enjoying the many captivating sights and sounds but unable to tell us a thing about the man who hosts it.

The Blu-ray enhances the film in multiple ways. First and foremost, the film works better in 2D, as nearly all of them do. I can count on one hand the films that I’d rather watch in 3D and while I thought the extra dimension would add to the flourish of “Gatsby,” I found the “flat” version more engaging, encouraging me to get involved instead of pushing the flaws of the film to the surface. I still can’t stand some of the performances here and Luhrmann’s filmmaking feels more cold and calculated than ever but the film is better on 2D Blu-ray than it is on 3D digital film.

And the special features are impressive, even if I did hope for an audio track from the always-engaging Luhrmann. He does pop up on numerous special features, including introducing some interesting deleted scenes and offering insight into one of the film’s best elements: The way it weaves jazz, pop, and hip-hop into one of the best soundtracks of the year.

The Great Gatsby was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 27, 2013
The Great Gatsby was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 27, 2013
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

It’s the spring of 1922 in New York City, a decadent playground of shifting morals, glittering jazz, bootleg empires and skyrocketing stocks. Chasing the American Dream, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Golden Globe nominee Tobey Maguire) arrives from the Midwest only to land next door to Jay Gatsby (three-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), a mysterious millionaire whose estate overflows with endless parties. As Nick’s beautiful cousin Daisy (Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan) and her blue-blooded husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) fall into Gatsby’s orbit, Nick bears witness to a tragedy of impossible love and incorruptible dreams. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless epic, The Great Gatsby mirrors the struggles of modern times in a dazzling visual journey from the mind of Baz Luhrmann, director of the Oscar winning Moulin Rouge.

Special Features:
o The Greatness of Gatsby
o “Within and Without” with Tobey Maguire
o The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby
o Deleted Scenes with Alternate Ending
o The Jazz Age
o Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the ’20s
o Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry
o Gatsby Revealed
o 1926 The Great Gatsby Trailer

“The Great Gatsby” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, and Isla Fisher. It was written by Baz Lurhmann & Craig Pearce and directed by Luhrmann. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 27, 2013. content director Brian Tallerico

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