ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

So, the first reviews of The Great Gatsby are in and it seems 's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless novel might not be as "great" as the title implies.

I think it would be fairly safe to state The Great Gatsby has received mixed reviews, but even saying that might be relatively inaccurate. Although it has only been reviewed by a handful of outlets, its score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes certainly illustrates most critics have erred on the side of criticism.

The first big review, broke by The Hollywood Reporter, may in fact be one of the most flattering, although it can by no means be described as wholly positive. Tom McCarthy opens his review by bluntly stating The Great Gatsby is fundamentally over-the-top, he explains:

As is inevitable with the Australian showman, who's never met a scene he didn't think could be improved by more music, costumes, extras and camera tricks, this enormous production begins by being over-the-top and moves on from there.

However, he does ultimately balance this criticism by pointing out the extravagant and exaggerated nature of the movie is in keeping with the character of Gatsby and its roaring 20s setting. The Great Gatsby did receive some early flak for its decision to use modern music (courtesy of Jay-Z and Beyonce) and what could be seen as an anachronistic 3-D filming technique. Despite accepting it is all rather overbearing, he does conclude:

But no matter how frenzied and elaborate and sometimes distracting his technique may be, Luhrmann's personal connection and commitment to the material remains palpable, which makes for a film that, most of the time, feels vibrantly alive while remaining quite faithful to the spirit, if not the letter or the tone, of its source.

McCarthy's review, as well as most reviews in general, have seemed to pile a not insignificant amount of praise on the principle cast. in particular has singled out by The Hollywood Reporter, who described his eventual appearance on screen to that of Charles Kane in Orson Welles's 1941 classic, Citizen Kane.

Other outlets seemed less willing to congratulate Luhrmann on his latest adaptation. Variety also highlighted the glitzy production values of the film, and although it accepts accusing Luhrmann of visual over-kill is a bit like "faulting a leopard for his spots", they ultimately concluded:

It comes as little surprise that the Aussie auteur behind the gaudy, more-is-more spectacles Moulin Rouge and Australia has delivered a Gatsby less in the spirit of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel than in that of its eponymous antihero – a man who believes bejewelled excess will help him win the heart of the one thing his money can't buy.

Interestingly, Alonso Duralde of The Wrap felt for all the glamour and exuberance, The Great Gatsby was not terribly exciting, stating: "The cardinal sin of this new 'Gatsby' is that it's dull". He went to suggest that The Great Gatsby marked "the official moment in which Baz Luhrmann's signature style has become self-parody."

IndieWire delivered a slightly warmer review, however it was not devoid of criticisms shared by most of the other outlets. Although they described The Great Gatsby as a "guilty pleasure, a swirling, audacious piece of cinema... that could prove a crowdpleaser for young audiences," they finally state the over-the-top visuals and opulent set pieces eventually becomes overproduced and repetitive.

Currently, only the big movie news outlets have managed to get their eyes on The Great Gatsby. The rest of us will be able to grab a look at it on May 10th.

What do you think? Have these mixed reviews dampened your excitement, or are you still eager to catch The Great Gatsby? Let me know below.


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