The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Review

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Some 3D films look awkward in 2D

by Casimir Harlow Nov 20, 2013 at 11:35 AM

  • Movies review


    The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £12.99

    The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Review

    It's a testament to DiCaprio's tremendous skills as an actor - perhaps the greatest actor of our generation - that he still manages to stand out and positively shine in a film which is rife with so much false glitz and fake glamour that you may well find yourself wrapped in a feather boa by the time the credits roll.

    In some ways the false veneer of superficiality was always going to be integral to any adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel - the mysterious subject matter is heavily informed by both Greek and Shakespearian tragedy, whilst simultaneously steeped in the quintessentially American class and race wars of the era from which it was borne - but Director Baz Luhrmann was perhaps not the man for the job.
    Where any other Director would have likely had to up the visual sparkle in the effort, Luhrmann needed to dial it down considerably - something which he is seemingly incapable of. As a result a potentially epic tale of love, delivered masterfully by the central contribution of DiCaprio is smothered and suffocated by Luhrmann's trademark glitter, which gives the impression of a considerably more vacant affair than this great classic deserves.

    The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Picture and Sound Quality

    The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Picture and Sound Quality
    Perhaps it’s a minority view, but some 3D-shot films look distinctly awkward in 2D. Several of the latter Resident Evil entries adopted the format, only to look odd when not viewed in 3D, and Luhrmann’s first 3D outing here with Gatsby is a frustrating viewing experience for much the same reasons. Arguably the pop-out / cut-out look is utterly intentional, but it is surely only effective when when actually watched in 3D – in 2D it just looks... odd.

    Still the UK Region Free 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, looks technically very impressive indeed. Detail is superior in many sequences, so much so that even DiCaprio is starting to look older than his usual eternally youthful self, with lines appearing on his brow. The lavish parties and elaborate sets are also rendered precisely and exactly, and the backgrounds look positively stunning. The colour scheme allows the skin tones to run a tad hot but, with strong black levels, there's little else to complain about.

    Aside from the initial jarring 3D-ification, this is a stunning video presentation.

    There's no denying that the accompanying DTS -HD Master Audio track is a stomping, dynamic mix which masterfully blends myriad effects, crystal clear vocals and the eclectic score. Dialogue is prioritised across the frontal array, and effects range from growling engine noises during the car sequences, to party noises which simply draw you into the scenes of lavish excess every single time, igniting the soundscape and crafting a heady atmosphere with welcome LFE undertones to boot. The score will make it or break it for some people, however much it is technically impressive, with the unusual input from Jay-Z oftentimes grating almost as much as Luhrmann's over-the-top visuals. Still, it's hard to fault the track from a technical standpoint and it remains demo material through and through.

    The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Extras

    The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Extras
    This UK Region Free release of The Great Gatsby comes complete with all the extras that adorned the preceding US release. The Greatness of Gatsby spends 10 minutes looking behind the production, 'Within and Without' is a 9-minute compilation of some of the video diary footage Tobey Maguire shot on the set, The Swinging Sounds of Gatsby spends 12 minutes discussing the soundtrack, The Jazz Age takes a quarter of an hour to look at this particular era of decadence, Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the 20s takes a similar amount of time to look at the costumes, Fitzgerald's Visual Poetry spends 7 minutes looking at how they adapted the book, and Gatsby Revealed affords us a look behind a quartet of key sequences: Gatsby's Party, Disconcerting Ride, The Plaza and Pool Scene. The disc is rounded off by some Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending - none of which really gives us any insight into a potentially more interesting feature - and a 1926 silent trailer.

    A spread of decent extras only further remind us that the filmmakers had no grasp of the material they were adapting.

    IS The Great Gatsby Blu-ray Worth Buying

    Promising to make Gatsby relevant in this current time of economic introspection and monetary division - us vs. the one percenters - Luhrmann's lavish new adaptation is only but another example of wanton excess; style smothering substance, and maybe even style without substance. Even DiCaprio's commendable efforts, and the strength of the source work cannot stand up to the weight of Luhrmann's gaudy glitz and irrepressibly shallow visual punch.

    Thankfully this Region Free UK release of the film benefits from such material, with impressive video and audio - if it's to your tastes - and a nice selection of extras to round off the disc. I dare say that the movie looks a little odd in its non-native 2D, but that's perhaps only to be expected. If you're not already a fan then this is a rental, if you must that is.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99

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