Critics’ reviews for Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” are simply not that great. It’s the fourth big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, which follows would-be writer Nick Carraway as he’s drawn into Jay Gatsby’s lavish circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy. The latest version stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Jason Clarke.
An estimated $100 million was poured into the latest vision, and although critics have praised DiCaprio’s performance, many reviewers think the movie fails to grasp the ultimate vision of the book. U.S. News and World Report notes the film “falls short trying to serve both the Fitzgerald original and its filmmaker’s aesthetic.”
The New York Times points out that it’s “less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.”
Still, DiCaprio has been described as “persuasive” and “magnificent” in his role as the mysterious millionaire.
The first film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” came in 1926 as a silent movie. It has since been lost, and only a trailer remains. In 1946, another feature came out, starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and Shelley Winters. And in 1976, Sam Waterston took on the role of Carraway, with Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan and Robert Redford as Gatsby.
“The Great Gatsby” of 2013 has a 46 percent rating on film aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.
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Read on to see what some of the top critics have to say about it:
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal: “This dreadful film even derogates the artistry of Fitzgerald, who wrote ‘The Great Gatsby’ while living on Long Island and in Europe. In a deviation from the book that amounts to a calumny against literary history, Nick, the author’s surrogate, is discovered in a psychiatric hospital where, as an aging alcoholic, he struggles to comprehend the vanished figure at the center of the long-ago story, and finally completes his treatment by writing the novel. It’s literature as therapy, and Gatsby as Rosebud.”
Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave it 3 out of 4 stars, noting: “The fourth adaptation of the Fitzgerald novel scores some hits and wild misses, but DiCaprio nails the bull’s-eye. He is Gatsby, though ‘Gatsby’ has yet to be made.”
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter: “The cast is first-rate, the ambiance and story provide a measure of intoxication and, most importantly, the core thematic concerns pertaining to the American dream, self-reinvention and love lost, regained and lost again are tenaciously addressed.”
Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post: “Despite timely relevance, enduring truths and Luhrmann’s earnest efforts to make ‘The Great Gatsby’ jump off the screen, he — and we — finally can’t help but fail to grasp it.”
David Edelstein of New York magazine: “The best thing about Baz Luhrmann’s much-anticipated/much-dreaded The Great Gatsby is that, for all its computer-generated whoosh and overbroad acting, it is unmistakably F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby.’ That is no small deal.”
Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald: “Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a failure that should have at least been a magnificent mistake, a risky endeavor that showed a daring intent even if its brash vision didn’t quite succeed. Instead, the movie leaves you cold and weary and vaguely disgusted, like you’ve just spent a night of debauchery at Gatsby’s mansion, and now the sun is up, and it’s time to fish the cigarette butts and champagne bottles out of the pool.”
Mike Bertha of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Here I am, disappointed with Luhrmann’s film, in part because I refused to quell my own anticipation. But, also, because the latest interpretation of Gatsby seemed to distort the values fans of the story hold so dearly.”
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