CinemaCon 2012: THE GREAT GATSBY Looks Gorgeous, Odd

Baz Luhrmann has adapted F Scott Fitzgerald's classic of the Jazz Age... in 3D.

I don't know what the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby will be when it hits theaters, but I wouldn't be shocked if it wasn't similar to what played over the footage presentation at this year's CinemaCon: modern pop music. The footage opened with No Church in the Wild off Watch the Throne, and it felt completely appropriate to the over-the-top glamour of the Roaring 1920s. 

In a pre-recorded bit, Luhrmann explained that there were no finished FX shots, and that there weren't even many wide shots. But what he showed us explained why he made the movie in 3D; Luhrmann's lush visual style translates wonderfully in the third dimension. He's always understood how to use depth, but in 3D he gets a new tool, and he uses it as extravagantly as all his other tools.

Even unfinished many of the scenes were stunningly gorgeous; Gatsby's lavish and crazy parties verge on cartoonish visions of the 1920s as brought to us by the most extreme popular entertainments of the time. Luhrmann uses the 3D to perfectly isolate characters in enormous sets. And he's not afraid of throwing fistsful of confetti right at the camera.

Then there's everything else. Is the movie totally heightened? Some of what we saw - like Nick first meeting Gatsby - seemed so heightened it wouldn't be out of place in Moulin Rouge. Other parts seemed very realistic, very downbeat... but I imagine the film will have dramatic tonal shifts as it moves along. 

Leonardo DiCaprio seems to make a great Gatsby; utterly cool, totally distant, completely seductive. Leo seems comfortable in the period, as does Carey Mulligan, who looks divine as Daisy. Joel Edgerton briefly pops up as Tom, and I like his brawny physicality in contrast to Leo's icy thinness. The big question remains Toby Maguire, whose Nick comes across as a touch shrill and pubescent.

Whatever else The Great Gatsby offers, it will have one of the most gorgeous images I have seen on a screen this year - Gatsby in a coffin, surrounded by flowers, at the bottom of a spiral staircase. The camera pulls up, revealing the spiral and the form of Nick sprawled on the steps above his friend. It's an astonishing moment.