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16 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
A dazzling and depressing tale, 14 May 2013

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered one of the best American novels of all time. Its themes of love, loss, obsession, friendship, greed and social status has made it a timeless classic, but the previous film adaptations have all been considered poor attempts at capturing the complexity of the novel. Baz Luhrmann's new version has also received its fair share of criticism, but in my opinion almost all of the complaints are unwarranted. Because this movie is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The movie tells the story of how Nick Carraway gets acquainted with his neighbor in West Egg, Long Island; the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. Opposite the bay lives Nick's socialite cousin Daisy Buchanan with her husband Tom. Soon Nick finds out that Gatsby and Daisy used to know each other when they were younger, and that their relationship is far from over.

The first half of the movie is a bit duller than the second and makes the movie seem shallower than it really is. Many of the criticisms the movie has gotten has been that the director has prioritized style over substance. But while the movie indeed is beautiful (more on that later) it is also complex and emotional, and from when the movie picks up (I'd say this is when Gatsby and Daisy first meet at Nick's tea party) and onwards it's a near-perfect film. Stand-out scenes include the tour of Gatsby's house, the flashbacks to his youth, the confrontation between him and Tom in New York and the final pool scene.

No other actor could have portrayed the elusive Jay Gatsby as well as Leonardo DiCaprio. Every single one of his personality traits, from the romantic idealism to the self-doubt, is apparent in his amazing but subtle performance. He is the core of the movie and all scenes without him feel lacking. Carey Mulligan's daisy is a more complicated performance to judge. On one hand she truly is lovely and the audience immediately sees why Gatsby is in love with her. But at the end of the day Daisy is such an unlikeable character that not even Mulligan's natural likability can make the audience sympathize with her. Joel Edgerton as her husband is, on the other hand, pure perfection. His menacing but nuanced portrayal of Tom is second only to DiCaprio in terms of skill. The worst casting in the film is Tobey Maguire as the narrator Nick. He is wooden, uninteresting and has no chemistry with Elizabeth Debicki(who plays his love interest Jordan). Only in scenes with Gatsby is Nick an even vaguely interesting character, and this is undoubtedly due to the fact that DiCaprio is strong enough to carry both of them.

Ever since I read the novel I have been aware of the depressing message that the story conveys. But while both the novel and the 70's film version are sad, they aren't even half as heart-breaking as this movie. Many will relate to the story of Gatsby, a man desperate to" fix things just the way they were" and realize with him that it just isn't possible. It's a gloomy realization but a good one nevertheless. Yong people especially will benefit from understanding that no matter how hard you work for something there is no guarantee that you will get it. But all of the messages in the story aren't depressing. One can also relate to the "extraordinary sense of hope" that Nick describes Gatsby as having and see him as an inspiration to never give up.

Visually the movie is impressive. The costumes, sets and special effects are dazzling, and since the soundtrack is modernized it was a smart move by Luhrmann and production/costume designer Catherine Martin to keep the rest of the film period-accurate. The 3D-effects however are pretty but forgettable and add nothing to the movie. Just like everybody else I was skeptical when I heard that Luhrmann had hired Jay-Z to helm the soundtrack and meant to include hip-hop and rap music. My suspicions turned out to be completely unnecessary. The modern music works very well (especially during the party scenes) and doesn't even include many hip-hop tracks. Variations of Lana del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" is used as a "love theme" for Gatsby and Daisy and I wouldn't be surprised if the stunning track get an Oscar nomination for "Best Original Song". The soundtrack is actually one of the main reasons that the movie feels current and inspiring in contrast to the at times dated novel.

So no matter what critics have said I think "the Great Gatsby" is an amazing film. It tells the interesting and important story just as well as the novel, but Luhrmann has added even more glamour and excitement with his visually creative choices. That makes it not only a satisfactory adaptation of the classic novel but a completely fantastic film. Beautiful, emotional, well-acted, unique and thought-provoking it truly is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen.

13 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
This legend will never die, 17 July 2012

Going out with a bang doesn't even begin to describe "The Dark Knight Rises", the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The film runs over 2 hours and 30 minutes but keeps you interested at all times (the main problem I had with the otherwise excellent "The Dark Knight" was that its pacing felt uneven and it got a little boring at times) and keeps upping the tension every minute leading up to what is indeed an epic conclusion. The film picks up eight years after "the Dark Knight", with the city of Gotham almost crime-free due to Batman taking the blame for the death of Harvey Dent. But it turns out to be the calm before the biggest threat Gotham has ever faced a revolution led by the menacing Bane (Tom Hardy) and his henchmen. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has retired from the public eye with only his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) to keep him company. However, a mysterious criminal named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and threat of Gotham's destruction makes him rise from the shadows again. Christian Bale, Michael Caine and the other actors (Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Liam Neeson) who previously appeared in the series reprise their roles with ease and seem to push their acting to the very limit since it's the last installment. Especially Bale and Oldman have never been better in their roles. But it's the new additions to the cast that really lifts this movie to a higher level. Hathaway, whose casting I definitely had some doubts about, plays Selina/Catwoman perfectly an extraordinary mix of strength and vulnerability. Marion Cotillard in the other "love interest" role blows previous Batman paramours Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes out of the water. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also wonderful as John Blake, a policeman with strong beliefs. But it's Tom Hardy as Bane that really made the film for me. Not only is he truly terrifying at times, but he also manages to make the character sympathetic and complex. But the true star of the film is director (and co-screenwriter) Cristopher Nolan. As a previous fan of his work I was looking forward to this film with very high expectations and some fear that it wouldn't live up to the hype. My expectations were not matched they were exceeded. The depth of the story was immense; it provoked lots of thoughts about society and our values and had a huge emotional impact on me. Credit for the cinematographer, the composer (Hans Zimmer truly is the greatest composer of today) and the special effects team is also due. Never have I ever felt as truly satisfied with every aspect of a film as I did with this one. So to summarize "The Dark Knight Rises" it is one of the best films I have ever seen and the absolute best one in the trilogy. It makes almost all other films pale in comparison to its grandeur and even if it won't be the box office winner of the year (which it very well may be) it's going to be a classic for years to come. As I try to describe how great it was I realize that it isn't possible because it was so much more than great. This is a movie isn't just a movie. It's a future legend.

17 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
A fairly original take on a traditional fairytale, 25 May 2012

Growing up I remember never quite liking Disney's "Snow White". Yes, the movie was sort of cute, but the heroine was way too sickly sweet in my opinion. Snow White had grace, beauty and kindness, but because of her complete lack of flaws she came across as boring. So I ended up rooting for the evil Queen instead.

Universal Pictures' "Snow White and the Huntsman" was promoted as a movie where Snow White got to be independent, strong and brave. In the trailers you saw Snow White (Kristen Stewart) preparing an army for battle, fighting and yelling. They actually made it seem like they had made Snow White a two-dimensional character that was more than a pretty face. So why did I still end up rooting for the evil Queen?

The main problem with the movie is the casting of Snow White. While they never implied that Snow White actually is fairer than the Queen (Charlize Theron) physically – they emphasized more on her inner beauty and kind spirit – they couldn't have meant to make Queen Ravenna more sympathetic too. Since Stewart is such a limited actress she has trouble making Snow White likable and relatable, mainly because of her mannerisms (eye-rolling, mouth-breathing, monotone voice). Theron however is a nuanced actress that conveys every single one of Ravenna's personality traits and feelings effortlessly. There have been criticisms of her over-acting, but I felt like the character was supposed to be dramatic and Theron's performance captured that perfectly. She makes Ravenna a tragic but heartbreaking portrait of a woman too obsessed with youth and beauty for her own good (there is a very sad back-story of how she came to be as obsessed with beauty as she is.)

Story-wise the movie doesn't stray far from the classic fairytale. The story of how Snow White's mother dies and her father then remarries a beautiful but evil woman has remained intact. The part where the evil queen has a huntsman going after Snow White for her heart has been emphasized more with the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) now becoming an ally/love interest for Snow White. The poison apple, the dwarfs and the prince all make appearances too. But the ending is more of an actual battle (horses, swords et cetera) than in the classic fairytale, and it also needs to be said that the movie has an overall darker feel.

Apart from Theron's performance, the movie's main strength lies in its visuals. The set decoration, locations and editing are all breathtaking – but Colleen Atwood's costumes are the main draw. Never in my life have I seen such detailed and beautiful gowns as those Ravenna wears. They add an air of luxury and indulgence to the movie and are a shoe-in for a "Best Costume"-nomination at next years' Oscars. The music score is fantastic too, and James Newton Howard proves just like he did in "The Hunger Games" what a great composer he is.

Overall "Snow White and the Huntsman" could use a better lead actress and some cutting (the middle part of the movie feels dragged out) but remains an entertaining, adventurous film for fans of epic fantasy movies. And fans of Charlize Theron shouldn't miss it for the world – she proves that she is not only the fairest of them all but one of the best actresses in contemporary Hollywood.

687 out of 1198 people found the following review useful:
A true game-changer for movies aimed at teens., 19 March 2012

Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of the "The Hunger Games" book series by Suzanne Collins. I've read them countless times and when I found out they were making a movie of them a little over a year ago I was very excited. But I was also worried.

"The Hunger Games" is not very easy source material. The book is written in first person narrative with very detailed descriptions of everything form the characters' looks to the strange futuristic devices they use in Panem, the future version of the U.S. where the story takes place. I couldn't imagine that they would be able to convey every detail as I had imagined it and make the story believable without an R-rating or a huge budget. All of my concerns were wiped away when I saw the movie.

I've never seen a more faithful adaption of a book in my life. All of the costumes, the sets, the locations, the cast (I'll talk more about them in a while) and the pacing is as if they were exactly replicated from the book. And the small things that do differ or are added (such as more insight to the gamemakers' control room) only add to the amazing world Collins created and improve the narrative movie-wise. And the movie is great for people who haven't read the books as well. Not once did I feel as if something was vague or badly explained.

The cast is stellar. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss carries the movie and makes me regret complaining about her casting because she was too "hot" and not starved enough. She IS Katniss and one can feel the graveness of an situation just by looking at one of her expressions. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is also a true breakout performance. The way he looks at Katniss will makes girls all over the world envy her, just like it's supposed to be. Other standouts in the cast include Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant talk-show host Caesar Flickerman, Woody Harrelson as the sarcastic but caring mentor Haymitch and Wes Bentley as the sinister game-maker Seneca Crane (his final scene might be the best one in the whole movie). The child actors Willow Shields and Amandla Stendberg who portrays Prim and Rue are believable and heartbreaking even though they're inexperienced.

Despite the PG-13 rating the movie doesn't gloss over or sugarcoat anything for their audience. The violence may not be gloriously graphic but it's still there. People will feel the tributes' pain and despair and not even realize the violence isn't gory until you've left the theater. The movie also deals with important themes like survival, governmental control, grief and helplessness. There is a minor love story subplot, but it doesn't distract from the movies main themes. In my opinion I think it rather improves them by showing some light in the dark.

The only complaint I can think of is that the movie feels too short. It's almost two and a half hours long, but it feels as if it goes by in a blink. I will have to see it again to fully pay attention to every detail (such as the costumes and animation of the Capitol, which looked amazing). But this is still not me saying that the movie is rushed, because as I stated the source material is very dense and the filmmakers managed include almost everything.

People are expecting this to become the next Twilight-style teen movie franchise. I can't say I think the two stories have anything in common even though I hope "The Hunger Games" will do as well at the box office. But if the first movie is any indication of the quality of what's to come - this will be a series way out of Twilight's league.

191 out of 263 people found the following review useful:
A truly spectacular movie!, 13 April 2011

OK, I'll try to tell you a bit of what I thought about "Water for Elephants", without spoiling anything. I have not read the novel (even though I plan to do it now) so I'm only offering my views on the movie.

First of all: It's amazingly beautiful. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the cinematography is exquisite, the animals are cute (especially Rosie the elephant) and the three leads are very easy on the eyes as well.

Robert Pattinson was actually quite good. This was a surprise to me, since I didn't really think he was anything special in any of the Twilight movies or "Remember Me". He looked very appropriate for the time the movie was set in, and even though I love Emile Hirsch (who auditioned for Jacob too) I'm confident that Robert was the best choice there was for this role, it was perfect for him. Hal Holbrook was also very fitting for the role of older Jacob. The two actors really made me believe that they were the same person in different stages of his life.

Reese Witherspoon was okay. She looked beautiful, was charming and cute but it felt like something was missing - however, I can't think of any other actress I would have liked better in the role, so I came to the conclusion that it was probably the character Marlena that was a little bland, not Reese.

But the true star of this movie was Christoph Waltz. I may be a bit biased since I loved him in "Inglorious Basterds", but he was even more perfect in this movie. His portrayal of August was amazing, he made him likable and interesting and I was always compelled by his scenes. The character reminded me a lot of Miles in "King Kong" (played by Jack Black), a character that also wanted fame and success more than anything and used questionable and even cruel methods to get it. He was terrifying in some scenes too, but always believable. Also, in the beginning of the movie i really felt the chemistry between August and Marlena, which made the character even more interesting; however, I did feel like Jacob and Marlena had chemistry too, and in my opinion this way it was more realistic (both men loved her and she also cared about both of them).

I loved the movie, and I really recommend it to everyone. I would sincerely give it 10/10 stars. Of course there was some parts of the movie I didn't like (particularly towards the end of it), but overall it was a magical, spectacular and epic period movie, and I can't wait to see it again!