The Grade Book: “The Great Gatsby”

The Great Gatsby

Plot: In the 1920s, a man finds himself intrigued by his neighbor — a mysterious millionaire with a past. 

Director: Baz Luhrmann. 

Writers: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. 

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, and Isla Fisher. 

Genres: Drama, Romance.

Running Time: 2 hours and 22 minutes.

U.S. Release Date: May 10th, 2013.

MPAA Rating: PG-13.




(Lowest Grade Given to the Film: F, Highest Grade Given to the Film: B+)

SUMMARY OF THOUGHTS: Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation is faithful to the novel and visually colorful, but the final results are mostly hollow — lacking a human touch. However, Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton give strong performances.



  • Gabriel Alcantara (Big Gabe):

Grade: C

I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of Spaz, I mean… Baz Luhrmann, but this film was more tolerable than his previous works. Its finest features are another great performance by Leonardo DiCaprio and lots of pretty visuals. Sadly, The Great Gatsby just isn’t my kind of film. I didn’t care about the events that took place and I felt no connection to any of it. The experience wasn’t as enchanting as it was meant to be.

  • Ryan Fecskovics:

Grade: C+

A very stylized but paper-thin film overall. The acting was quite boring and at times too much. But, Elizabeth Debecki, who plays Jordan, does a phenomenal job in her very small but crucial role. The music was “cool” but I wasn’t that impressed. It was very interesting to see the film in 3D, but I would not recommend it. Overall, anyone who likes the novel should see the film. But if you haven’t read the novel, I really would advise you to not see the film.

  • Chad Gleason (MovieManCHAD):


Grade: B-

The production value and costume design is amazing and the only true reason to see this film! The acting is good too, but everything else felt a little soulless and distant. I just wish I was more emotionally connected to it, like I was with the first three films from Director Baz Luhrmann!

  • Mike Holtz (WeWatchedAMovie):

Grade: B+
A romance movie for people with ADD. It’s a constant assault of crafty style and grandiose landscapes, with strong performances and writing to back it up. Even if it doesn’t land emotionally as much as it thinks it does, Gatsby is as chaotic as it is refined, old sport.

  • Steven Hunt:

Grade: B

An enjoyable adaptation of a book I barely remember. I’ve always liked Baz Luhrmann and here I thought his style worked really well for the movie — especially with the party scenes. All of the acting is good, but Leo and Joel Edgerton are the standouts. The problems were that the music used didn’t fit in the movie and I didn’t care for any character in the movie. Recommended, but not an amazing movie.

  • John Maffeo:

Grade: C

Essentially, this is an exemplified example of “style over substance.” Yes, it looks vibrant and distinct visually, but surprisingly the story is overlooked for the most part. From the halfway mark forward, the story takes the center stage and the film becomes engaging. However, the first act’s visuals are overly-obnoxious and — to add to the nonsensical whim — the musical choices didn’t work. The Great Gatsby is not a bad film by any means, but it’s obviously drawing itself to a younger demographic. I’d call it a high guilty pleasure!

  • Zachary S. Marsh:

Grade: B

The story drags a little bit and there’s a lack of presence from certain characters in the film, but other than that this movie is an exhilarating and stellar acid trip for the first 45 minutes — with a mixture of modern music and amazing 3D. But then it slows down for the rest of it and becomes a deep, fascinating, well-acted, and well-directed movie that’s definitely worth seeing, especially in 3D.

  • Steven Merced (Geeked Out):

Grade: B+

The Great Gatsby is one of those rare films that makes me completely do a 180 after seeing it. What I mean is that when initially seeing the movie trailer I was very worried about the film and was not sure if the directing choice was best for the source material. With amazing cinematography and spectacular acting, the film delivers something outstanding with very much depth. Now in no way am I saying that the film was perfect, and it’s understandable and justified why some will be less than pleased with the outcome. Due to its in-your-face green screen special effects and a distracting score filled with a soundtrack not fitting the time period, some viewers may be pushed away. With that said, for me, although those choices were diverting, the overall film was very satisfying.

  • Kevin Morrison:

Grade: B+
While some of the style choices are questionable, the performances are very good and it is very true to the source material. Fans of the novel will not be disappointed and it may surprise those dragged to go see it! While it’s not all perfect, there’s greatness within it.

  • Austin Putnam:

Grade: C

A very faithful adaption of an amazing novel. Great acting from Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton. It’s a great film to look at, but the style of the film got in the way of what mattered the most…the emotion of the novel. The Great Gatsby majorly suffers from a case of style-over-substance.

  • Daniel Rester:

Grade: B-

Baz Luhrmann’s film is flashy and mostly-artificial, lacking a strong human core. However, Leonardo DiCaprio and the apartment scene are magnificent. The results are really a mixed bag.

  • Christian Ruvalcaba:

Grade: B

Though it took me awhile to naturally get invested into the story, the overall payoff of the movie came to me as a surprise. Skeptical about the film before going in, I highly enjoyed most of the performances, the adaptation of the book, as well as some of the visuals. Of course, I do think some of the visuals interfered with some of the storytelling — and so did the soundtrack, which I felt did not fit well with the film. However, fans of the great American novel will be pleased that this adaptation is a total satisfaction.

  • Joseph Stampher:

Grade: F

It fails at every level of filmmaking. The soundtrack does not understand when to be diegetic or not, when to be modern or period, or when to enhance the mood or to subvert it. The lighting is harsh, unnatural, and unflattering. The focus is too shallow to take in the backgrounds or costumes — which to many are the film’s only saving grace. The cuts are so quick and jumpy that the story gets butchered and ground up before it can be taken in. Direction and production appear to consist of only “does it look good, or how can we make this look like it cost a lot of money?” It winds up being the very thing the novel mocks: vapid, shallow, and surface without substance.

  • Delon Villanueva:

Grade: C+

A film that’s entertaining enough to cover up its very significant problems. It has the visual spectacle we’ve come to expect from director Baz Luhrmann, and the performances are top-notch, but as much as the movie desperately wants its own unique interpretation of the source material…it just doesn’t really work. While there are some great filmmaking moments here and there, Luhrmann’s directing and visual style can take away from the story’s messages and themes when he’s not careful. Still, the movie is worth watching for aesthetic value, even if the movie itself isn’t exactly good.

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