Quantcast

The Great Gatsby (Blu-ray Review)

Before visiting The Great Gatsby theatrically this spring, I strongly held the opinion that this was either going to be one of those films you’d love or you’d hate with uncompromising passion, no middle ground in the equation.  I know I found myself seriously conflicted in how I felt about it for months before I saw it.  The first trailer did nothing to persuade me that this was a film I must-see.  Other than my infinite love for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge masterpiece, I had not one ounce of desire to partake in a viewing.  And then came the second theatrical trailer and it totally erased all the negativity I had surrounding the picture.  Despite not being the biggest fan of Carey Mulligan, I found myself longing to see this spectacular unfold on screen.  And then boom!  A third trailer was released and I felt a little uneasy again until I saw a preview for the film on the Cloud Atlas Blu-ray I was reviewing at the time.  Talk about indecisiveness, eh?  All I know is that after seeing this twice now I continuously melt over the heart wrenching love story, but I do know this…if you are not a fan of Moulin Rouge, this is not a movie for you.  Be warned and move on below with caution.

Film 

So I guess it goes without saying that you all already know that The Great Gatsby is an adaptation of the classic novel of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Although I can’t remember back that far, I’m sure most of us have fond childhood memories of reading this one back in school.  So while the nucleus of the story may not have changed all that much, the look and feel of the source material sure has thanks to the unique pioneership of Mr. Baz Luhrmann (we will touch upon this in the Extras section below).  And while I may not like everything the man has made throughout his illustrious career (I’m looking at you Romeo & Juliet), there’s certainly no argument to make that this guy’s a visionary and is able to bring extraordinary things, high concepts and raw emotions to the big screen and by golly The Great Gatsby ain’t no exception to his craft either.  The beautiful period romance was both co-written by Luhrmann and directed by him.  I say, respect the man.  He’s got mad skillz.

Fitzgerald’s novel gets energized and breathes new life into your screen with performances by crowd pleasers such Leonardo DiCaprio (you know he’s going to always bring his A-game), Tobey Maguire (he’s Spider-Man no more) and Carey Mulligan.  Much to my surprise, Joel Edgerton also stars in this one.  Ever see The Warrior?  If not, make sure to do so!  This guy, much like the other aforementioned leading men, demands your attention.  The Great Gatsby rounds off with performances by Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke and the beautiful Isla Fisher.

Much to my chagrin with the the majority of reviews from the critics out there, I have nothing but praise and good things to say about this Luhrmann production.  Maybe I’m the only one who has a heart?  Maybe I’m the only one who understands love?  Maybe I care to much?  I don’t know, but I do know this much.  From the unbridled energy and the exhumed emotion to the stunning visuals and images, Baz brings the literary masterpiece to life on your HDTV screen like only he can deliver the goods.   Think Moulin Rouge on steroids!  I can’t imagine this one not finishing on my Top 10 list of films this year.  If it falls off, I’d be shocked and probably labeled heartless too.

I don’t feel like I’d really be spoiling a lot in regards to discussing the plot since the majority of us were probably forced to read this one at one point in time anyway, but for the sake of my review audience I’ll stick to my moral reviewing code of not spilling any beans as I tread on here.  So in a nutshell, I guess you can say The Great Gatsby follows the life and times of the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) and his poor neighbor, Nick (Maguire), who recounts his engagements, dealings and associations with Gatsby in the 1920’s.  Essentially, Maguire’s character is the narrator here as he is encouraged to write everything down…hey…much like McGregor’s character in Moulin Rouge!!!

As Maguire’s character, Nick Carraway, settles into his new humble abode on the outskirts of New York City, conveniently located right next to Gatsby’s monstrous place, he rekindles a friendship with his cousin, Daisy (Mulligan) and her husband, Tom Buchanan (Edgerton).  At this point not much at all is known about Gatsby other than his large, flamboyant and over-the-top parties he throws every week.  The weird thing is you don’t even need an invitation to attend, but why did Nick receive one?  That’s odd, huh?  Well, for lack of a better term, Nick and Gatsby form quite the bromance as the pair looked like they were best friends all throughout life.

But what about that invitation?  That still bothers me.  Does it bother you?  It should!  Do you think there’s a possibility that Gatsby might want something from Nick?  I think so!  Use the Force and search your feelings you shall.  Haha.  So needless to say, parties go by, celebrations are had, but Gatsby has a master plan he obsesses to achieve, a love of his life that he once let slip away and he’ll stop at nothing to reclaim her and recreate the past.  Now here’s a delicate subject.   What’s so difficult about recreating the past?  Everything!  Even though it sounds so easy, we as humans often inadvertently forget about the ripples caused in time gone by and ultimately can’t deny the way certain events went down, words that were said or just about anything else no matter how hard we try to shut them out.  You have to live and accept because there’s no such thing as complete forgetting until they invent a voluntary clinical amnesia treatment in the medical field that is.

So where were we before I went off on a tangent?  Oh yeah!  We were talking about how The Great Gatsby is an irresistible feast and orgy of sight and sound and how all the other critics and naysayers are dead wrong, have no culture or all of the above.  Make no mistake, Baz is a visionary.  If his dialogue doesn’t touch you, then his raw energy and emotion he expresses through his visuals and sound will.  From the high octane, crowd pleasing songs to the roar of the 1920 auto engines racing through the digital landscape, Baz crafts a world that I want to be part of, whether it’s Moulin Rouge or The Great Gatsby.

My word of advice here is don’t be intimidated by the film’s 142-minute runtime.  If you like it, the time will fly by.  When I first saw it I was giddy as a school kid as I felt like I was re-living the magic of the masterpiece Baz created with Moulin Rouge all over again.  From the elaborate VFX digital sets and grandiose party scenes to the erratic camera pans and zooms I never wanted to leave Baz’s world…even after seeing this body of work for the second time now.  Sure by midpoint the energy and excitement started to dial down a bit as we learned precisely what made Gatsby tick and dived deeper into his psychosis to gain an understanding of his story arc, but the slower pace never dissuaded me in anyway because if there’s one thing Baz knows how to hone in on like no one else in the industry it’s that eternal love story with the utmost of intensity.  And he knocks it out of the ballpark here, in my opinion.  But hey now!  What about those Blu-ray specs?  My God!  I’m glad you asked!

Video 

The Great Gatsby, like the film itself, makes its way to the Blu-ray format with a picture-perfect 1080p presentation.  The AVC MPEG-4 encode razzles and dazzles your viewing screen in a meticulously framed 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  I could stop right here and just say things are all spot on, but I’ll press on and explain in further detail why I feel the exuberant way I do about the video here.  The black levels are all deep.  Unless it’s intentionally supposed to look stylish, all the detail here is impeccable and razor sharp throughout the film’s runtime down to the individual scraps of confetti and tinsel blowing around everywhere at one of Gatsby’s wild parties.  The skin tones are all natural and in check with no high contrast or inflation problems.  The glossy JG emblem stamped, wooden floor within the Gatsby mansion sparkles in remarkable brilliance like the shine and allure of diamonds to any female.  And last but not least….wow!  The wow factor!  The three-dimensional pop!  The colors!  The vibrant colors and hues.  Simply and incredibly gorgeous here.  There are also no artifacts, noise or bothersome blemishes to be found anywhere in this transfer.  It’s simply pristine and spectacular, spectacular (Moulin Rouge fans will get that reference).  Enjoy this one!

Audio 

Warner Bros. brings the Fitzgerald classic to the Blu-ray format with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround sound treatment.  You would expect big and bold things from this one, wouldn’t you?  I was!  That’s why I have to ding the score a little bit slightly because the mix didn’t live up to my demanding expectations all the time.  I would have loved to hear the music kick in just a little harder and the rear channels a little more engaged.  But other than those nitpicks, things were spot on.  The dialogue was clear and intelligible.  The music was brassy and vivacious.  And the haunting themes and vocals of Lan Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful” were prominent throughout.  God!  That song gives me goosebumps and when it kicked in full force when Daisy went to Gatsby’s house and he was tossing shirts down at her I got goosebumps and I found myself sitting straight up and just literally locked and mesmerized sonically in a euphoria of sight and sound.  Tearjerking and beautiful.  Simply irresistible.  Call it what you want.  I call the song and the selection of it a rousing and triumphant masterpiece here.  So I guess you can say, this a dialogue piece first and foremost with music coming in as a very close second.  What I have like to hear a little more oomph?  Of course I would!  However, I’m fine with what I have here.  It’s not perfect, but it’s not shabby either.  Available through the selectable menus, one can also find Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish and French surround tracks as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Extras 

While there may not be any cherished audio commentaries here that Blu-ray cinemaphiles love to chew on and digest, that doesn’t mean all is lost.  Quite the contrary.  Welcome to the Extras department, ladies and gentlemen.  Allow me to show you around if you may as we take a closer look behind-the-scenes at the 90+ minutes of robust and kicking supplemental features you’ll find here on The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Combo Pack.  If you’re okay with it, let’s tackle these in order as they are listed on the back of the Blu-ray case’s cover art.  LOL.  Of course you are okay with it.  Who’s doing the writing here?  Not you!  And make sure you stick around…especially you Gerard…as I have included some of my world famous unboxing pics for the general populous to witness and behold the majesty of The Great Gatsby on Blu-ray.

  • The Greatness of Gatsby (HD,9:14) – Here we see and hear Director Baz Luhrmann talk about the journey of bring The Great Gatsby to the silver screen, how he conceived the idea to do it and convinced writer Craig Pearce of it, scouting of locations and more.
  • “Within and Without” With Tobey Maguire (HD, 8:41) – I guess reporting on the set is a tradition for a Baz Luhrmann production as we see the torch passed to Tobey Maguire on this feature as he chronicles the making of and captures raw and intimate behind-the-scene moments on the set.
  • The Swinging Sounds of Gastby (HD, 12:17) – I never knew this, but supposedly Fitzgerald was the rockstar of his generation and he actually coined the term Jazz Age.  Baz talks about this as well as the importance of infusing jazz into the film and his rationale for blending hip hop into the period piece.  He also talks about the legendary musicians who helped to recreate, shape and bring the period piece to life in the movie with music.  We also meet Bryan Ferry who started the traditional 20’s jazz band utilized here.
  • The Jazz Age (HD,  15:48) – Baz starts off talking about New York City, but for all intent and purposes…this is really a documentary like piece on Fitzgerald.
  • Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the 20’s (HD, 16:22) – Baz talks about his wanting to respect the 20’s, but being able to connect with modern audiences through contemporary fashion, costumes and sets.  It’s also interesting to note how they collaborated with Brooks Brothers, historically also known for working with Fitzgerald himself.
  • Fitzgerald’s Visual Poetry (HD, 6:55) – This one deals with how to deal with the monotony of having a narrative written piece on screen and the ways to break it up and make it visually stimulating through montages of pictures, transitions and words.  To accomplish this Baz referenced great films from the 20’s and the opticals they used.
  • Gatsby Revealed (HD) – This is actually a 5-piece set of separate videos that gives an exclusive look into the actors and the creative processes.
    • Gatsby’s Party (HD, 7:12) – The glamour, style and music of Gatsby’s parties.
    • Disconcerting Ride (HD, 4:53) – A look at where Gatsby reveals his past to Nick in the heavily VFX car ride to the city.
    • Daisy and Gatsby Meet (HD, 7:49) – Recalls the horrible weather conditions and on the film’s most memorable moments.
    • The Plaza (HD, 4:26) – Recreating the Plaza Hotel of the 20’s and the unusual methods filming methods.
    • Pool Scene (HD, 5:47) – The FX created montage when Gatsby reveals more of his past to Nick.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 14:24) – There are four scenes here with an option to play them all or separate.
    • Baz Introduction (HD, 2:06)
    • Nick & Jordan (HD, 3:09)
    • Her Voice Was Full of Money (HD, 2:24)
    • Alternate Ending (HD, 6:44) – Gatsby’s father arrives at the house to pay his respects.  I’m glad they excised this.  This did not jive with the movie at all and as Baz says, the information we learn here is already told throughout the story.
  • Trailer (SD, 1:05) – The silent trailer for the 1926 The Great Gatsby movie.  Wow!  Movies have come a long way since then.  Thanks be to God!
  • DVD (SD) – Here we have a shiny reflective drink coaster or a great prop for those long trips in the back of your parent’s mini-van.
  • UltraViolet Digital Copy (SD) –  Here we have the equivalent of a drink coaster in the digital format.  WB Please!!!  Bring back the iTunes Digital Copies!!!

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…The Great Gatsby Blu-ray unboxing!!!

*

The Blu-ray’s elaborate and elegant slip case.

The-great-gatsby-blu-ray-unboxing-1

*

The back of the slipcase.  The cover art on back of Blu-ray case is the same.

The-great-gatsby-blu-ray-unboxing-2

*

The protective wrap covering the virgin Blu-ray disc inside!

The-great-gatsby-blu-ray-unboxing-3

*

Holy discs!  Can you contain yourself any longer?!

The-great-gatsby-blu-ray-unboxing-4

*

Inserting the Blu-ray disc for the very first time into my Playstation 3.

The-great-gatsby-blu-ray-unboxing-5

*

And last but not least, here’s the main menu on the Blu-ray disc.

Great-Gatsby-Blu-ray-menu

*

Well, I hope you enjoyed the above unboxing pics.  I truly do have fun doing these as I know no one else does them and I think as a consumer it’s cool to see the product and everything you’re getting before it’s actually in your hands.  Don’t you?

Summary 

Baz Luhrmann brings Fitzgerald’s literary classic to life in your living room in such an exuberant and larger-than-life fashion that only he can pull off.  Like the height of the roaring 20’s that this period piece encapsulates I’m “roaring” to watch this over and over on the Blu-ray format.  I’m drawn to it.  Every ounce of my being longs for it.  From the chemistry of the cast to the raw energy and emotion that propels this nocturnal love story forward, I see the green light across the water and I want to reach out and touch it again and again.  Label me a pessimist or whatever you want, but I’m a firm believer that nothing Baz does will ever top the magic of Moulin Rouge, in my opinion.  However, The Great Gatsby finishes a close second to me in his catalog of works and with exceptional video and banging audio, the all seeing eye watching over Gatsby’s world is a force begging to be seen on the Blu-ray format.  So I reckon you do so.

Own The Great Gatsby on Blu-ray Combo Pack August 27th and on HD Digital Download Now!

Pre-order today!

 

Share

Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

Comments are currently closed.