Monday, February 16, 2004

Movie Review: Gangs of New York

I realize that Gangs of New York is old news, but I just saw it for the first time over the weekend. There were four main reasons why I rented this movie. First, I love epic spectacles. I am tempted by almost any movie that approaches the 3 hour mark in length. Second, it was nominated for something like 11 Academy awards last year. Third, there were several actors in this film whose work is almost always worth seeing, namely Liam Neeson, John C. Reilly and Daniel Day Lewis. Lastly, all the Martin Scorcese films that I have seen have been artistically interesting.

I was not disappointed in any of these categories by Gangs of New York. It was certainly long. It was visually spectacular. The acting was quite good, and the film was creatively executed. However, I cannot give this movie an indorsement. There is quite a lot of nudity in one particular scene, but this is not the main reason that I withold my recommendation. The main reason is the gratuitous violence. This is perhaps the most gratuitously violent movie that I have ever scene.

I know what some of you are thinking: Aren't you the girl who lists We Were Soldiers as one of her favorite movies? The answer to that question is "yes." However, in my criticisms of Gangs of New York, the emphasis needs to be on the word "gratuitous." The violence in this movie was sustained, brutal and graphic. And, unlike films such as the aforementioned We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan or even Braveheart, this movie was not depicting an actual, historical event where the emotions of the real moment needed to be captured.

I don't know. Maybe that is an arbitrary distinction. But I really did think that the violence of this movie went too far. That being said, if you do start watching this movie, it is worth finishing because the closing scene is very cool.