Category Archives: Film Reviews

Let’s Calm Down With The Film Trailers

**Spoiler warning: discussion of potential plot spoilers surrounding Jurassic WorldThe Huntsman: Winter’s War and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 follow below. Watch trailers Read at your own peril.**

I have a film minor, but in no way, shape or form am I a justified critic. Or even that harsh of a critic in general. I’m the type of person who will probably love the film that everyone else hated or not understand why a film that won all the awards was so grand in the first place. Though I love to write quirky reviews from time to time, I’m not going to dive into the nuances of a film as a reflex. I just watch them with the hopes of feeling something and escaping for a while.

That being said, I do have a tad bit of an issue with the current trend of cinematic trailers.

A trailer, in this context, is defined as “an excerpt or series of excerpts from a movie or program used to advertise it in advance; a preview.” It is not defined as “a series of chopped up segments of the film that come out every couple of weeks before the release of the film, a new trailer being released until you’ve seen the entire film in three-minute increments across a period of four months.” Because that is definitely what trailers have become. And in my opinion, pointlessly and almost to their own peril.

Image result for jurassic world poster

The first series of trailers that made me pause and think, “Wait a second. Isn’t this a bit much to show already?” were the Jurassic World trailers. A trailer that revealed Chris Pratt’s character riding alongside velociraptors, spoiling what was meant to be a major twist in the film. Criticism abounded, both surrounding this reveal and potential sexist themes. Even the director, Colin Trevorrow, claimed that his marketing team showed “far more of this movie than I ever would have wanted” with the raptor-human bond reveal–a twist so major, it even became the focus for one of the major advertising posters.

Yet wouldn’t that twist have been so much more effective if it were revealed in film, catching the audience completely off-guard? I understand marketing companies choosing to reveal major aspects of a plot for a film that will have questionable audience attendance or sales (yet even then, I think those marketing teams should consider the pros and cons of how much to reveal). But Jurassic World? You could have released a poster that was completely blacked out, with white text in the center of it revealing the release date for the film underneath the title and done nothing else, marketing wise, and people still would have flocked to the theatre. Considering the franchise (granted, this includes Jurassic World) has grossed an average of $923,748,044 in boxes offices worldwide, I don’t think revealing the main aspect (aside from a hybrid dinosaur) that made Jurassic World unique from the previous films was truly necessary.

Obviously, for Jurassic World, the reveal didn’t hurt its box office numbers. And I don’t think I can necessarily claim, without doing a lot more research than this opinionated post is going to do, that revealing too much too early could hurt you in the long run (though I certainly think it’s possible). But ever since hearing Trevorrow’s criticisms of too much being revealed too soon, I’ve noticed that’s become the trend in cinema. And I certainly don’t like it.

I was really excited about The Huntman: Winter’s War exactly because of the trailer, which reflected some kickass cinematography and effects. Yet it was also a film that, when I finally watched it, I got pulled out of due to what was already shown in the trailer. Jessica Chastain’s character, Sara, was “killed” early on in the film. Yet I felt no fear at her supposed death. Sure, the plot they were following pointed at the higher chance that she wasn’t actually dead regardless of what the trailer showed, but even the most minuscule chance of her death was removed by having action scenes in the trailer that hadn’t been shown yet in the film before she died. While I do recognize that occasionally, material that was originally meant to make it into the film but was cut, yet was used in the trailer, does happen, there were enough scenes with Sara in the trailer that were after her return that ruined any chance of mystery, even if, in this example, the chance for mystery was already slim.

The most recent–and last–example I’ll point out is for another film I’m absolutely jazzed to see in May: Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It’s a film that I think has a similar situation as Jurassic World. The first film grossed $356,185,900, which is ranked fifth amongst the Marvel films. I don’t think there is going to be a problem getting people to show up to theatres to see the sequel. Yet the amount of trailers that have been released to promote it–each revealing more and more new scenes not previously seen than the last–does nothing but make me feel like I’ve already seen the entire film for free. According to the IMDB page, there have been five trailers so far: the promo, the teaser trailer, first official trailer, the second official trailer and a sneak peek. All for a film that will attract millions with ease. If that’s what’s expected for guaranteed blockblusters, what are smaller films supposed to do?

I’m just ranting, at this point. It’s honestly not that big of a deal. So far, no trailer has revealed so much that I won’t go see the film it advertised. I just wonder what the marketing departments in charge of creating trailers are actually thinking, logically. Because this trend doesn’t make sense and I think it will have a negative impact, if it continues. So, naturally, I blogged about it because I could. I would love to hear your thoughts, especially about any films that you felt were particularly spoiled by a trailer; or, better yet, a film that was so encapsulated and teasing because of its trailer that you had to go see it.

Thanks for nerding out with me, friends.

Cheers.

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Independence Day: Resurgence Review

I was pretty excited about this film, when it was first announced; so excited, I went and rewatched the first film, Independence Day, and was reminded why that film is actually one of my favorite films of all time. The casting was awesome, I enjoyed the plot, I was moved enough to get chills and cry, but what made the film so top notch to me personally was the writing and the humor. I forgot how often I actually laughed in the film and how natural it felt. No only that, but the characters and their relationships were so organic, I loved it. So when I  saw the trailer for the second one, with the improved graphics and the next generation having to deal with the same thing their parents did, I was stoked. Finally, June 24th came around and I was asking everyone when they wanted to go see it.

Mom: Wasn’t feeling the crowds.
Bestie: “Mayhaps?”
Sister: Can we go see “Secret Life of Pets” instead? (Um, yes, and it was worth it.)
Brother: Nope. 14-year-old too cool for you.

Obviously, this spanned a couple of weeks, trying to find someone to go see it with me. I was reaching the point when I was just going to go alone, dammit. Finally, yesterday, my Dad was like, “Do you want to go see a movie?” and after perusing what was out, I asked, tentatively, “Do you want to see the new Independence Day?” and then he said, “Sure.”

YES.

So we go to the theatres. Until the previews, we were the only two people in the theatre. By the time the film was about to start, three other souls had joined us. I had my nachos, my Bunch-a-Crunches, my grape Sprite; I was ready to go. And then we watch the film. During it and reflecting upon it since, I’m not disappointed in it. I’m not overjoyed about it. I don’t love it like I loved the first one, but am I going to go see the third one?

Hell yes.

I realized that I had almost the exact same response as I did with Jurassic World (except Jurassic World has grown on me quite a bit and I actually like it a lot more than I did the first time I saw it in theatres, and I had left the theatre content). With both films, I enjoyed them and I wasn’t disappointed. With both films, I definitely believe that the originals, the first films, in the franchises, can never be topped or compared to. They are just too good. With both films, the effects and CGI and details were great.

It was the plots that gave me pause.

In Jurassic World, it was the brothers-with-soon-to-be-divorced-parents-coming-together-because-of-experiences-at-the-park storyline. It felt overdone and not properly fleshed out. I didn’t care that Zach was super interested in girls and didn’t care about his brother, while Gray was a genius who felt left out and underappreciated. It felt unnecessary. Honestly, they could have just been brothers who were visiting the Park that their Aunt ran and I would have been content. But I never harped much on the storyline because let’s be honest, I’m not watching Jurassic World for a riveting storyline. I’m watching it to see kickass dinosaurs (and Chris Pratt, if we’re getting real honest).

Switching to Resurgence, I was looking forward to the updated graphics. I wanted to see how the aliens improved and changed and I was very happy when I could tell they were the same aliens from the first film, yet they also looked so much more badass. So I wasn’t disappointed on that front. And I knew the film focused on the next generation, so the children of the previous heroes were our new heroes. And I was stoked for that! What I was really looking for was that balance between awesome humor and end-of-the-world doom that happened in the first film. Plus, characters that all totally meshed and everything just felt natural. That’s what I wanted.

And that’s what I didn’t get.

Orphan Lieutenant Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) has bad blood with Captain Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher). Hiller is the son in the first film who was shooting the aliens while the hero, Will Smith, was still waking up. Morrison also is engaged to President Whitmore’s (Bill Pullman) daughter, Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe). The three youths used to be in flight academy together but now there is bad blood and drama-fused storylines that aren’t fleshed up property, thus, making me question why they are even there. Hiller, upon being reunited with Morrison on the moon, punches him. Then, during the invasion, they make up. Problem solved. I’m not saying it needs to be this drawn out thing, but I felt like the drama was there just simply for drama’s sake. Yet I didn’t think the film needed it, not in the halfassed manner it was presented.

Then, add in the kids that David’s (Jeff Goldblum) Dad (Judd Hirsch) finds and takes in, David’s one new romance with no explanation (or a missed explanation on my part) regarding his old flame, the deaths of the previous cast to make way for the new one…The relationships and friendships between most of the characters didn’t feel natural, like they did during the first film.

I laughed a few times (and my Dad did once, which says something), but not nearly as much as I was hoping for. The saving grace was character Charlie Miller, played by Travis Tope (who, might I mention, was definitely a cutie. Though I know Hemsworth was meant to be the heartthrob, I was falling for the dorky, quirky best friend that Tope played ten times more). Though I think his character was entirely built-in for comic relief, I think it was definitely needed and I appreciated it. I wished more clever humor could have been incorporated throughout.

If I was nitpicking, I would say that the technological advances that happened in 20 years between the time of each films was a bit far-fetched, even with the help of alien technology. Yet I was also pleasantly surprised with what they did with the advances and how they incorporated them, and how they used them to set up the next film in the future.

Overall, I did enjoy it and only started really critiquing it when I started thinking about this review. I do plan to buy it when it comes out on DVD and I will definitely see the third one when it comes out. If you were a fan of the first film, I think there will be elements you like in this one and elements you don’t. Might as well give it a try and find out for yourself!

Cheers.

PS: Also, the tagline for the poster? “We had twenty years to prepare. So did they.” That was brilliant.

PPS: Gbenga Akinnagbe’s character was the best. Hands down.


Steal My Heart While Protecting My Brains

Though I’ve never actual read Pride and Prejudice–I know, *le gasp*–it is one of my favorite cinematic romantic stories. I always applaud the rendition starting Colin Firth, but I am particularly partial to Keira Knightley’s and Matthew MacFadyen’s take. When Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was announced, I was quite excited for it. I had already fallen in love with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and was excited to see the next cinematic rendition of Seth Grahame-Smith’s brainchild.

I definitely wanted to see it in theatres and considering I had no Valentine’s Day plans this past February, I took myself to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Nachos and Crunch-a-Bunch in hand, I sat in a theatre with roughly a dozen other people; a few couples amongst us, but I hardly noticed, even on a day when my single status is extra noticeable. I was too curious on how zombies were going to interwoven to such a romantic classic and if it was going to be as badass as I hoped it would be and not the flop that I feared.

Hint: it was as badass as I thought it was going to be.

I awaited the day for it to be released on DVD eagerly. I don’t think I’ve been so excited or counted down to a DVD release in a long time. I bought it the same day it came out and watched in with my Mom a few weekends later, curious to see her take on it. A lover of Pride and Prejudice but not a fan of zombies at all, I wanted to see if the film could possibly sway her at all. Here is why I hoped it would:

The film truly does do a fantastic job at blending the classic with the grotesque. Even if you aren’t a fan of zombies (I’m not opposed to them, yet I’m not going to see every zombie film that comes out), you have to appreciate how well-woven the zombie lore was integrated into the past world of husband-searching and crafting-the-perfect-wife. The film’s start, with the voiceover about a lady’s need to master both the feminine arts and the martial arts, followed the wonderful “storybook illustration” piece, narrated by Mr. Bennet to his daughters, that explained how the zombies came to fruition and strength, made the inclusion of the zombies feel very natural and created the expectation that both women and men were required to help fend off against the horde. As the Bennet sisters sat cleaning their guns while their mother fussed over trying to find them husbands, I was amused and intrigued, and immediately felt comfortable within the new world surrounding the Bennet household.

The casting was perfect. With amazing stars such as Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet and Lena Headley as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I felt it was impossible not to be badass. Yet the film wasn’t afraid of humor, often poking fun at itself, most notably with Mr. Collins fantastic portrayal by Matt Smith (who was my Mom’s favorite character) or the saucy portrayal of Mrs. Bennet, played by Sally Phillips. Of course, Lily James did fantastic playing a feisty, independent Elizabeth Bennet. I can’t imagine a more perfect casting than her.

And then, of course, there’s Mr. Darcy.

He’s played by Sam Riley, who I thought was utterly perfect. I’d never been exposed to Riley before, but it was hard not to fall in love with him as every woman falls in love with Darcy. His dark voice, his closed-off mysteriousness, his attractiveness, his skill with a blade and his respect for a woman who is his equal…yeah, I was easily swooning.

Not only did I love the intricate and natural weaving between two narratives, but I also love the life given–pun intended–to the zombie narrative to breathe its own story within the classic tale. The religious interweaving regarding the apocalypse and the Four Horsemen, plus the zombies’ abilities to hide their infection, the stages of the infection in relation to the ingesting of brains and the ability to stagnate the infection through the use of pig brains, all created an interesting possibility of coexistence that I didn’t expect. Personally, I also loved the gore incorporated, though I didn’t think my Mom would be too fond of it. It wasn’t overwhelming or overdone, but still present enough to make the nature of the film and the war going on within it apparent.

Overall, this film exceeded my expectations and easily fulfilled my hopes. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. I laughed, I jumped, I swooned and I cried, even just a tad. Regardless of your take on zombies, if you’re a fan of Austen’s classic, I think you should give it a chance. If you love zombies, then by all means, enjoy. Though I’ve yet to read any of Seth Grahame-Smith’s works, I hope he continues to add a darker taint to the classic stories and characters we love. I certainly adore the films that result from his creativity and I thank him for them.

Oh and my Mom said she liked it. *fistpump*

 


Why Everyone Should Go Watch Zootopia, Right Now

I’m a sucker for animated films and I don’t think I can accurately express my love for Zootopia in particular (but, here’s the attempt). It’s hard for me to narrow down a list of my all-time “top” favorites, but I know Zootopia is definitely one of them.

I went to see it in the theatres with my brother and sister when it first came out. It wasn’t until the previews started playing that I realized it wasn’t The Secret Life of Pets. For some reason, I totally thought that was what we were going to see, even though it hadn’t (and still hasn’t) even come out yet. When I realized that, I was suddenly disappointed, as I was (and still am) very excited to see it, and very bummed. Suddenly, I had no idea what Zootopia was about or if it would even be good, yet there I was, sitting in the theatre waiting for it to start.

A couple hours later, I came out of the theatre, talking up a storm about how much I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I felt moved and was generally surprised at how fantastic this film was; so much so, I forced my best friend to go see it with me in theatres again a few weeks later. Then, when it came out on DVD this week, I bought it and watched it this morning. Now, at work, I’m still singing the single, “Try Everything” by Shakira, in my head.

(It’s so catchy.)

What makes this film so brilliant? Well, a lot of things. The premise itself was fantastic–especially so, considering I had mistaken it for another film and actually had no idea what it was about before watching it. I loved that the animals were self-aware that they used to be primitive and it started out talking about their evolution, and the main conflict resolved around that transition. That was super interesting.

My favorite part was how the message was so powerful and the characters were so relateable–even to me, as a 23-year-old. The message is best summed-up by the hero herself, Judy Hopps:

I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.

Not only is this message absolutely fantastic, but I love how positive Judy is. Despite her parents being unsupportive–due to their own fears and experiences–she chased her dream of being a cop. And her motivation wasn’t to be the first bunny cop, breaking stereotypes, but she wanted to make the world a better place, and being a cop was her way to do that. When she got to the Academy and continually failed at the beginning, she pushed herself harder and worked extra until she succeeded. When she was assigned as a meter maid, she challenged herself to excel at that, even though it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do on the force. When her apartment was shitty, she got excited, because having that apartment and living in the heart of Zootopia meant she made it, and her dream was that much closer to becoming true. Her positivity, belief in herself and confidence was refreshing and inspiring.

I related to her so well due to my recent life experiences. Like Judy, I moved away from home after college, lived in a shitty apartment and was excited about what life had to offer. And, like Judy, I made enough mistakes that eventually, I went home, feeling defeated. And, hopefully, like Judy, I’ll learn from my mistakes, become a better person because of how I learned from them and continue chasing my dreams with the utmost passion.

Aside from Judy and the great message, the film was also a joy to watch. So many moments did I laugh. I cried twice. It had some dark moments that I wasn’t expecting that really ripped at my heart, in relation to bullying, that not only hit home, but hurt because of how real those experiences are, and how often they happen. Plus, there were quite a few references to other films and TV shoes that I caught onto which were a fun surprise. The Godfather, obviously. I truly believe Anastasia was one and my friend had to point out a Breaking Bad reference that I missed. It makes me wonder how many other references they slipped in that I didn’t notice.

There is a foolish stigma that animated films, being animated, are either lesser films than live action or “can’t do as much” as live action films, having to be “dumbed down” for a younger audience. While I don’t believe this at all, with some of my favorite and most powerful films fall into the animated category, that argument can’t even be made in relation to Zootopia. It is a fantastic film no matter what age range you fall into or what films are your preference. It serves as a great reminder for everyone about the power of a positive mindset, the harshness of life, the vulnerability of living and the ability to overcome it all. I recommend, 110%.


I Can’t Even Properly Title This Post…

So, it is currently four in the morning. I am listening to Ed Sheeran on repeat (I bet you can guess the song) as I force myself to stay awake to write this post. Because I must write out my first initial reactions before sleep carries me back to the Middle Earth that I have had the pleasure to be lost within the past, eh, three hours. Disclaimer: DESOLATION OF SMAUG SPOILERS BELOW. Read at your own peril.

I plan to do a proper film review after I see the film for a second time (for I will see it at least two more times in theatres, I assure you) but I wanted to jot down a couple things that I thought of while finally watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug after waiting over a year for its release.

First: Beorn is brilliant. His appearance as a man is perfect, his beast form is beautiful. I loved being introduced to him so early in the film and can’t wait to see more of him in film three. 

Secondly: SAURON imagery!?! How freaking brilliant was that? The whole scene between Gandalf and the Necromancer/Sauron’s spirit was absolutely divine and chilling. And going into the Witch King’s tomb??? I was freaking out as soon as I realized that is where Gandalf was meeting Radagast…ahh. 

Third: I love how we got to see more of some of the dwarves that weren’t as prevalent in the first films, e.g., Bombur mastering the barrel roll, Oin’s medical expertise, etc. I think that is really cool. 

Fourth: Before I get to Smaug, I must say this: this film literally had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I literally had to sit forward, hug myself and try to get as close as possible to the screen, I was so eager for the scene with Smaug and what was going to happen. I’d say the last 45 minutes of the film, I was physically not able to sit back. The fact that half of the row I was sitting in did the same says something, I think. But Smaug…he is the perfect of perfect. I was blown away by his realism, frightened by his power, charmed by his tongue and awed by his beauty, majesty and breath-taking presence. I cannot and will never be able to give Peter Jackson and his crew enough credit for what they have done with this magnificent, amazing creature. He is so perfectly, amazingly brilliant. Absolutely stunning.

Finally: When the screen went back, I was in such awe over what they did with the film and how amazing it was, and in complete shock that they would end it there, so cruelly, that I literally fell back in my chair and could not move for a good two minutes. The fact that we are now going to play the waiting game for the third film is going to kill me, to the point that I cannot even properly title this post, my emotions are so thrown all over the place. But I can say this: Jackson and his crew have done so masterfully a wonderful job that I can leave satisfied, just completely hungry, but not starved…for now (as long as the film is in the theatres for me to watch again and again). Jackson, your genius will never cease to amazing me. Thank you so much. To anyone interested, I will write a more Tolkien-esqe, film review of the film after I have had time to process it and watch it again, but for now, I am going to go to my bed and get lost in Middle Earth once more.

Cheers,

Nicole 


Child at Heart

There are just some things that you don’t grow out of. Or should not grow out of, rather. Sword fighting with sticks, racing to finish your ice cream cone before it drips on the pavement, tracing your body with sidewalk chalk, just to name a few. I am turning 21 (which is a total shocker to me, holy cow) late autumn this year and in many ways, people can believe that. But in many other ways, I think people believe I am a woman stuck with a child’s mindset. Like how I really like dragons and am still planning to go on a trip to Romania with my younger brother to find one. Or how I would much rather read a young adult fantasy novel than a piece of classic literature.

Or with my blatant obsession with animated films.

In this area, I think that NO ONE, no matter what age you are, should ever stop loving animated films. They are so brilliant. If I were to give a list of my favorite films of all time, I would say that half of them are animated films. Quest for Camelot? Winner of the most under-appreciated animated film of all time. AnastasiaDefinite contender for favorite film of all time (*disclaimer: The Hobbit and LOTR franchise will always be my favorite films of all time, so when I say favorite film, I am talking about after these films, of course :)). And don’t even get me started on Disney films. I could watch Tangled, Pocahontas, Hercules, Robin Hood, or Mulan all day, every day, they are that good.

Take this summer, for example. I have done some pretty awesome stuff. Went on a roadtrip with two of my best friends, that rocked. Started a new job at a summer camp. Going to a concert on Tuesday for the 4th year running and super pumped about that. But one of the things that I was *most* excited about for the summer was the release of Despicable Me 2. If that doesn’t tell you I am a child at heart, then I dunno what does.

I went and saw the film on the 4th with my favorite familia and it was SO GOOD. I absolutely loved it. I just want to steal a minion and take him home with me. I think Dave is my favorite…or possibly Phil, I can’t decide which, they are all so funny. But I loved the plot line — Gru is convinced to work for Anti-Villain League to try and figure out who is behind the latest batch of crimes, while also trying to figure out his feelings for Agent Lucy and deal with his girls growing up at the same time — and I love all the characters. Basically, the entire film was fantastic and definitely one of the highlights of my summer. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this blog and go see it. Right now.

So, saying that Despicable Me 2 was the best film I saw this summer definitely speaks to the child in me. But, I think this speaks to it even more: about how pumped I am for next summer. Because next summer, guess what comes out? Just guess. Only the sequel to one of the BEST animated films I have seen, ever.

That’s right: How to Train your Dragon 2!!!!!!!!

I am beyond pumped for this film. So, so, so excited. Especially because they just released the trailer last week. Toothless, who is as adorable and hilarious as the minions, if not more so, is as cute as ever. And Hiccup, my favorite awkward underdog…well, I think the picture below speaks for itself.

 

^ Nothing is better than a HTTYD and Harry Potter mashup. Haha.

Although we don’t learn much about the plot for this next hit, I am definitely excited to see what they plan to do with the film. And if Hiccup looks this different, I’m excited to see what the other characters look like and how they have evolved. I’m excited that I already have my highlight planned for next summer, even if I’ll be in the theatre filled with kids half my age or younger. I hope that no matter how old you are, you still embrace special things from your childhood that keep the child within you alive. Because seriously, who wants to grow up completely?

Cheers,

Nicole

P.S: Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68AqHwgk2s8


The Great Gatsby — Review

*DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers to the film/book. Please read with caution if you have not read the book or viewed the film. Though, if that is the case, that needs to change, now. And I will tell you why, below:*

The Great Gatsby, an iconic novel written by the gifted F. Scott Fitzgerald, was recently recreated as a film, just released a little over a month ago. It was a big deal and caused a lot of hype. And as I just got back from viewing it, I can understand why. Directed by Baz Luhrmann (known works include Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet, known for his brilliant use of colors and intense, chaotic cinematography), it completely surpassed my expectations that I had walking into the theatre. This film was brilliantly done and was quite rewarding for viewers who have read the novel and a treat for those who have not yet had the pleasure.

The cast was absolutely divine. Perfectly casted. I could never imagine a better Gatsby than Mr. Leonardo himself, who has only gotten better with age. Daisy, Tom and Jordan were all exactly as I imagined them in the books. I have to be honest, I was pretty nervous about Tobey McGuire as Nick Carroway, but I am pleased after watching the film. I think he did a very decent job at narrating the heartbreaking tale of love between Gatsby and Daisy.

As for changes in the film from the text, I love how they added that Carroway was actually recounting Gatsby’s story to someone else, sometimes telling it aloud and sometimes writing it down. I think that was a lovely touch and a great way to establish Carroway as the narrator directly at the beginning, especially for audiences who haven’t read Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. The majority of the film, I thought, did a great job of paying homage and incorporating key elements of the novel onto the big screen, making us book nerds quite happy. The green light, the spectacles, Gatsby’s infatuation with the nickname “old sport”; including scenes like Gatsby showing Daisy his collection of ridiculously nice and expensive shirts, which, on the surface, appears minute and unimportant, yet is truly crucial to the narrative; including key quotes verbatim throughout the film, quotes that are iconic to the novel and that readers recognize. I am absolutely in love with the film and how they adapted this novel to the screen. And don’t even get me started on the masterwork behind the soundtrack and the score. That could be a whole blog post on its own. Brilliant.

The film succeeding not only in appeasing the reader in me, but also invoked emotion as an audience member as well. I felt hatred towards Tom and his hypocritical ways and anger that he was the one who was keeping Daisy away from Gatsby. I felt bad for Wilson because I knew he was being played and felt dread when Myrtle died, because I knew with her demise, came Gatsby’s. I think the character I emphasized with the most, though, was Gatsby himself.

Here is a man who started out as nothing and became everything. He was the walking image of the American “rags to riches” idea. He built himself up from the bottom and was able to rise to the top and become at least equal to those who were rich naturally, if not surpassing them. He was able to throw elaborate parties every weekend that the entire town partook in until it became almost ritualistic, though never less expensive or elaborate. He went to war and went to school and rose from nothing into something. And while how he obtained his money is questionable, the motive behind it, is not. Everything he did, every action, every deed, every thought, every idea, he did for love. He did for Daisy. Even after he learned that she had married someone else, he still built his life around her, falling in love even though he knew that once he did, he would never be able to break from her spell.  And he chased after her, fought after her, did everything for her…even died to protect her. And Gatsby was a hopeful man. He never once thought that he and Daisy would not be together, no matter what odds were against them. He knew that they would work, that it would work out. He was a true, hopeful romantic.

I can see myself in Gatsby that way greatly. I believe, like he does, that love can conquer all odds. Through seeing this film, I can appreciate my connection with this iconic character more, which only makes his death and the betrayal that causes it hurt more.

When reading the book, I labeled Tom was the bad guy; the one who ruined everything, that is what Tom Buchanan was. Yet after watching the film, I think Daisy shares a lot of that blame. I don’t blame her for not waiting and falling in love with Tom. I don’t blame her for telling Gatsby that he is asking too much in asking her to declare that she never loved Tom, which she did (even though Tom didn’t deserve it); plus, Gatsby was asking too much. I don’t blame her honesty. But then Gatsby devotes everything to her, sacrifices himself for her, and she doesn’t do anything? That is the blame I put upon her. She lets Gatsby take the fall for her murder and doesn’t even bother to send even a single flower to Gatsby’s funeral, let alone show up herself. Instead, she disappears with her cheater of a husband and young daughter and leaves everything else behind, throwing Gatsby’s undying love away. I see Daisy as less of a character from this film and definitely more complex than when I read the book.

I think the whole dynamic of the three characters — Tom, Daisy and Gatsby — is really interesting and intricate and I love what Fitzgerald has created through these characters. And I also love how Baz Luhrmann has brought this story alive on the screen once more. It is masterfully, artfully done and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy a fantastic, thought-provoking and heartbreaking story.

“You can’t repeat the past.” — Nick Carroway  “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” — Gatsby

Cheers,

Nicole