Awhile ago, I was asked if I was going to see The Great Gatsby in 3-D when it hits theaters December 25. Typically, I’d offer a snarky comment but after seeing Hugo and Tintin in that exaggerated format, I may have to change my stance. Initially, presenting something like Gatsby in 3-D seemed like an idiotic idea whose sole purpose was to lure the suckers who’ll shell out a few extra bucks to see anything in 3-D because they think it’s better, but Spielberg and Scorsese used the third dimension so cleverly that both films probably wouldn’t have been as enjoyable without it. I don’t know about Hugo, but my son already asked if we could get a copy of Tintin when it’s released for the home market, so I’ll be viewing it again in 2-D, and I’m curious to see if it’s as much fun.
Regardless if the 3-D novelty adds to the Gatsby experience or it’s used for cheap nonsense like champagne corks flying at your face, I’m more concerned with whether the film is any good, period. As straightforward as the story is, I’ve never been satisfied with any of the film versions I’ve seen so far. My biggest peeve is that the actors cast are always too old. I’ve been a Redford fan since seeing Butch Cassidy when I was nine, but he was too old. Alan Ladd also is a fav but that 1949 version with his fedora and trench coat is like The Great Gatsby, P.I.
One of Fitzgerald’s points is that these people are young money in their late 20s to 30. They’re irresponsible because they have it without really knowing its value. So casting Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby has me worried. DiCaprio is a fabulous actor, but he’s 38 years old and should be 30 tops. Joel Edgarton as Tom Buchanan is 37. Toby Maquire is physically solid for Nick Carraway and also is a good actor, but he’s 36. Director Baz Luhrmann also worries me. He made the very fun Strictly Ballroom in 1992 but has churned out nothing but crap since.
Agreed that the actors’ ages is a pretty minor quibble, and if the script and directing stinks, the actors will be the best part (wouldn’t surprise me), so keep your fingers crossed because it would be wonderful to have a solid version of this story on film.
More Books on Screen
Gatsby is just one of a handful of book-based films coming to a theater near you this year. Here are a few more titles based on books or print material:
The Woman in Black, February 3. Is their life after Harry Potter for Dan Radcliffe? I saw this seriously spooky ghost story on stage in London more than 20 years ago and almost soiled my drawers, so a film with top effects seriously could scare the bejeezus out of audiences.
The Avengers, May 4. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America already have proven to be box office beasts, so putting them together in one film should bring comics ka-ching to a whole new level.
John Carter, March 9. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s other great creation gets the big screen FX treatment. The trailer looks pretty good, so fingers crossed.
The Hunger Games, March 23. Suzanne Collins’s brutal story of teens in televised death matches should cause quite a stir.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, June 22. This weird mash-up either will be great fun or not worth a penny.
The Amazing Spider-Man, July 3. I’m real curious to see whether this reboot takes off. The trailer left me cold, so unless the word of mouth is fab, save your dough.
The Dark Knight Rises, July 20. Christian Bale is bailing after the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Bats trilogy. I thought the first two sucked eggs (great actors, lousy material). Nonetheless, this is probably the most anticipated film of the year.
The Bourne Legacy, August 3. Jeremy Renner takes over for Matt Damon to keep the franchise going. The Damon flix were a blast, so let’s see if this newb has the chops.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn‚ Part 2, November 16. The final installment in the touchy-feely vampire/werewolf series.
Les Misérables, December 7. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway star in this screen version of the musical that has been playing forever on stage. Is there a film audience for it though?
The Hobbit, December 14. After the monumental success of the Rings trilogy, there are probably 100 times more fans than before and 99.9999% of them are dying for this. I didn’t say 100% because I found the Rings films bloated and slow, so I don’t have high hopes for The Hobbit, especially as it’s being broken into two films. This is guaranteed to pull in mondo bucks.
Life of Pi, December 21. Ang Lee directs this adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel about an Indian boy and a Bengal Tiger stranded in a lifeboat. More for the art house crowd.
World War Z, December 21. This opens the same weekend as Pi, and I can tell you already which one will bring in more green. Tabloid darling Brad Pitt is hot after the success of Moneyball‚ also based on a book‚ and Inglourious Basterds, so this adaptation of Max Brooks’s popular zombie novel should find an audience.
Great Expectations, TBA. The only thing I know about this is that Helena Bonham Carter stars as Miss Havisham under Mike Newell’s direction. It’s nice to have one Dickens-based film for the old boy’s bicentennial.