Saturday, January 7, 2012

Capsule Review: Gangs of New York (2002)

One of Martin Scorsese's dream projects, in development for over 30 years, Gangs of New York ended up a glorious mess, stuck somewhere between historical epic and action film. At over two and a half hours, it still feels like a compromised experience, perhaps exemplified by its casting. While Daniel Day Lewis as Bill "the Butcher" Cutting electrifies every moment he's on screen (and ably carries the film's dead spots), both Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are horribly miscast, and even the incredible production design and supporting performances can't hide the weaknesses of those two stars. Thankfully, the supporting performers are universally excellent, and the settings makes for a fresh environment that is beautiful to look at - it's hard to believe that the sets were constructed in Rome, Italy. It's still massively entertaining, but feels unfortunately compromised. One can't help but wonder what a lean, hungry Scorsese might have made of this material in the 1970s. 

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