The Great Gatsby

I did my best to avoid the 3-D version of this. Ideally, I would have liked to pretend that it didn't exist... because, seriously. Why in the world would anyone want to see The Great Gatsby, a book that is about the opposite of an action thriller, adapted into 3-D? Was this an attempt to make it seem less like a film to which some women might have to drag unwilling husbands and boyfriends? If so, I'm pretty sure it didn't work.

Sadly, due to technical difficulties at the theatre, I ended up watching the 3-D version, though at least I didn't pay the extra money for that dubious privilege. Distracting is about the kindest way of describing it. For what it's worth, however, they did follow the book quite closely, even sometimes putting lines from the book on the screen and having them drift towards the viewers so that we could remember it was in 3-D even though I doubt I was the only one who would rather have forgotten that fact.

If you know the plot, you can skip this paragraph. Five years ago, pretty debutante Daisy (Carey Mulligan, Drive) fell in love with an Army officer named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained). But Gatsby was too poor to marry, and went off to fight in World War I, then make his fortune. This took a little too long, however, and Daisy instead became the wife of wealthy Tom Buchannan (Joel Edgerton, The Thing). When Daisy's poorer cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man 3), moves into a cottage next door to Gatsby's mansion, Gatsby contrives for he and Daisy to meet again. And then you know something dreadful has to happen, or there won't be a story.

I was sure that Tobey Maguire would make a wonderful Nick, and I was right, so it's a shame that the film didn't work out better overall. They played modern rap music sometimes, complete with choreographed dances. I don't know a single person who likes that trend, though someone important in the movie industry must love it, or it would have mercifully ended long ago, like bullet time*.

Let's see. Jason Clarke from Lawless plays the hapless, betrayed husband George Wilson, with Isla Fisher as his wife. The actress was in The Lookout and will be in the upcoming flick Now You See Me; and she's positively frightening here. I'm fairly sure that had anyone actually dressed the way she does in the 1920's, they would have been arrested.

Basically, this is one of those movies that I hate to review, because despite a good story, a script and good acting (even Leo wasn't nearly as awful in the part as I was expecting), I really didn't enjoy watching it. Like, at all. And I can't figure out what went wrong, aside from the obvious problem of the 3-D. That kept making me sigh, but it really doesn't explain why I was so unimpressed. It's just another unfortunate example of how disappointing the crop of summer movies seems to be overall this year, I guess.

So three out of five is the absolute best I can do here -- one for the novel, one for Tobey Maguire, and one for Carey Mulligan, because I like her. It would have been two out of five, but at least Ben Affleck dropped out of the role of Gatsby. Leo was only so-so, but seeing Ben as the title character would have made my head explode.

*I know, bullet time isn't dead yet, but I like to pretend it is.

Image: 
Nick, Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom watch the other guests at one of Gatsby's parties.

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