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Overall Rating
3.46

Awesome: 27.23%
Worth A Look28.17%
Just Average: 21.6%
Pretty Crappy: 9.39%
Sucks: 13.62%

9 reviews, 159 user ratings



Gangs of New York
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by Alexandre Paquin

"A teen movie as pretentious and muddled as it can get."
1 stars

Every studio's most ambitious project is inevitably released in December, as if to compensate for the atrocious films offered the rest of the year, but more realistically because members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can hardly remember any film released before winter. Even though everyone inside the industry and, increasingly, casual movie fans are aware of this, the tradition endures, and we can almost predict that the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 2002, if not every nominee in this category, will have been released this month. "Gangs of New York" is one of those films earmarked for greatness because of its budget, scope, lavish sets, flawless cinematography, and the presence at the helm of "America's greatest living director", Martin Scorsese, but which falls flat on its face as early as the first scene and never raises as much as its head again.

In New York City in 1846, an Irish American named Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) decides to fight against the oppression his people face every day from the native-born Americans, led by William Cutting, better known as Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis). When Cutting kills Vallon in battle, the latter's son, Amsterdam, still a child, disappears from public view. When Amsterdam (Leonardo Di Caprio) returns to New York in 1863, his only purpose is to avenge his father, and he decides to join Cutting's gang to have a better opportunity of killing him. In the meantime, because there is always a meantime, he meets lovely pickpocket Jennie Everdeane (Cameron Diaz) and gets involved with the corrupt politician William "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent), who relies on the Irish vote for his power base.

Gangs of New York is a disjointed and cliched but pretentious film which does not seem to know what it wants to be; occasional moments of comedy mix uneasily with the overall melodramatic tone of the film, which in turn appears unconnected with the historical events at hand. It is true that an overly melodramatic story can be set against any background, sometimes with success. Di Caprio's most famous (or notorious) film, for instance, could easily have been set on the Lusitania or the Hindenburg instead of the Titanic. The context had very little importance to the story, even though it did purport to be the film's most interesting aspect. On the other hand, while a film like Gone With the Wind was melodramatic and could have been set in Paris in 1940, it benefitted greatly from its setting in the South during and briefly after the Civil War. It mixed the melodramatic with the epic with some success, but it essentially remained an "against-the-backdrop-of" film, a film in which the characters and the setting can be separated from one another to the point of irrelevance. Gangs of New York aims for historical grandeur while offering the most uninteresting and unbelievable characters in its bid to attain it. Amsterdam Vallon remains an undeveloped idea, and Di Caprio's acting is an open book in which nothing is written. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers an excellent and appropriately over-the-top performance, but his character is too exaggerated to convincingly fit into any historical era, even in more modern times. In other words, Gangs of New York is a film which wants to integrate itself into its context at all costs while doing everything to move in the other direction. The last half hour of the film, with its depiction of the Draft Riots of 1863, is the best, but makes little sense in retrospect because the events leading up to those riots have been improperly summarized and because the focus of every minute of film before them is elsewhere, mostly on Vallon and Cutting.

History is, throughout the film, both ignored when it should be explained and underlined when it should have been left out. When Jennie and Vallon consider -- very briefly -- going to San Francisco, they of course have to show the audience that they would have to go around South America and up the West Coast, to reach California. Subtitles informing us that the first transcontinental railway would not be completed until 1869 and that the Panama Canal would not be inaugurated until 1914 were probably unintentionally omitted. Even though the causes of the Draft Riots are only briefly touched upon, it appeared someone considered it necessary to include subtitles telling us on which street corners the riots were taking place. All these pedantic considerations seem to have as only purpose to prove to the audience that someone has done his or her research. That it fails to transpire in the rest of the screenplay or that such meticulousness is secondary throughout most of the film is, it seems, of little concern to most people involved.

Historical characters are, like the events, improperly introduced and described, and their relevance to the era -- or to the story, for that matter -- is left undiscussed. "Boss" Tweed, played masterfully by Jim Broadbent, the extent of his corruption, and the importance of Tammany Hall, are left on the sidelines while the main action takes place, and other historical characters such as Horace Greeley, the publisher of the New York Tribune (whose premises were attacked because of the newspaper's anti-slavery and pro-Union stance, but this is of course not explained), and P.T. Barnum are there to join him. A brief shot of what may be an early Thomas Nast, the famed cartoonist who brought down Tweed in the 1870's, passes by without much notice, except of course from those people who can understand (and unmask) this historical charade.

Gangs of New York attempts to convince us it is prestigious and serious, but it is in fact very close to being a teen flick set against a background no teenager is likely to care about, even with rock music à la A Knight's Tale during the opening fight. The casting of Cameron Diaz is strictly there not to bring more depth to the story, but as the necessary love interest in any teen movie. In Gangs of New York, the part is superfluous and should have been cut out. What little impetus the film has comes to a grinding halt when she is on screen, reminding us that whatever the project, there must always be a love interest to attract an audience. Overall, the film is very similar to The Four Feathers, with actors likely to appeal to a younger audience (Di Caprio and Cameron Diaz in lieu of Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson) and historical topics which are both improperly dealt with and unlikely to appeal to any teenager in any case. There is also another common point between The Four Feathers and Gangs of New York: both seem to have been edited to death, and the fact that both were released by Miramax may have a great deal to do with it. (The negative influence of Miramax should be kept in mind even after Harvey Weinstein wins the Thalberg Award -- ironically named after another hands-on, commercially obsessed producer.)

In its present form, the story hardly makes any sense and the historical issues suffer the most. Although the first two hours could have been trimmed down, the film could have immensely benefitted from an additional hour in which the action could have been refined. An incomprehensible betrayal which, in the film, appears as a contrived plot turn, could have undoubtedly made more sense in an extended, or at least a more streamlined, version. More emphasis should have been put on the Draft Riots themselves; the final half hour has a delightful atmosphere of decadence reminiscent of Titanic after the ship started sinking. Unfortunately, the film is beyond redemption at this point, even with (or perhaps because of) Scorsese at the helm.

Gangs of New York is not a mere disappointment; because of its aims and pretension, it is an unmitigated disaster.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6489&reviewer=287
originally posted: 12/27/02 04:43:58
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User Comments

9/27/17 Bents DDL and the setting are the show 4 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell epic 4 stars
3/02/13 Monday Morning Learn a bit about the history of the time (Irish Mobs) & you'll appreciate the film more. 4 stars
10/09/11 monkeybiscuit Overrated indulgence from an old director who is past his prime 3 stars
9/15/11 Clemdane Looks beautiful but has no compelling emotional center 3 stars
2/12/11 Quigley Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest performances in cinema history. Not to be missed. 5 stars
6/09/10 Serge Epic albeit overdone vision of New York's beginning 4 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King What a load of rubbish. 1 stars
4/24/10 art BILL the BUTCHER was AN ASSHOLE!,this film SUCK"S! 1 stars
3/01/10 SEBSEB Great film. The review must be an idiot if he doesnt know 'check' from 'cheque'! 5 stars
8/23/09 Jade Hellcat Maggie does have at least 1 line. She says something like "Just gimme a drink!" 3 stars
7/02/09 the dork knight Overwrought, hyper-realistic, leads nowhere. Only Daniel Day-Lewis seems to be trying!! 3 stars
4/19/09 Ron Ingrasin Masterpiece,even if somewhat historically incorrect 5 stars
10/26/08 TigerSlap Unintentionally funny - while being a small orgy of pointless violence... 1 stars
9/02/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting storyline. 3 stars
8/16/08 ROB best Scorcese film ever 5 stars
6/16/08 Marvin Very ordinary and a waste of time 1 stars
5/14/08 PAUL SHORTT DONT SEE IT! 1 stars
4/14/08 JT Unbelievably good. Most epic movie ever. Awesome Western/mob movie combination 5 stars
2/08/08 mb It wasn't worth watching and was really stupid really. 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Is Scorcese trying to be Spielberg?& Diaz is unintentionally hilarous, esp. w/ Irish accent 2 stars
10/16/07 Jimmy One of the best soundtracks Ive ever heard but besides that it was overly violent/sexual 2 stars
12/04/06 Stanley Thai One of the best films of the year. Great movie! 5 stars
8/26/06 stu i'll never forget this film... 5 stars
8/23/06 Agent Sands Scorsese is so amazing that he's made me riveted by a subject that I've little interest in. 5 stars
6/24/06 great loved it 5 stars
5/14/06 Simon y'know i used to like this movie alright, but really... it IS surprisingly shallow... 3 stars
3/27/06 Indrid Cold Mildly interesting, but really just a mediocre western that happens to be set in NYC. 3 stars
2/26/06 chean its great 5 stars
1/07/06 gerry dunne like many Scorsese movies - way below expectations 1 stars
11/29/05 tatum Historically inaccurate, but Day-Lewis is hilarious...oh, he wasn't supposed to be? 2 stars
10/15/05 Moctezuma A good, though, not great, Scorsese picture 5 stars
10/10/05 Wisamane They worked extremly hard to get the 1880's look, Incredible movie, cast and plot!!! 5 stars
9/04/05 R.W. Welch A shade overdrawn but a good yarn about a little known era. 4 stars
9/03/05 sweetgrrl1972 About 1/2 way through when DiCaprio DOESN'T die, I was bitterly bitterly disappointed. 1 stars
8/29/05 LS Galvin Definitely worth a watch - Day-Lewis is incredible! 4 stars
8/12/05 ES Ug say 'Lewis great, Leo stinky= movie ok' 3 stars
6/24/05 Mr Fluffy Day Lewis' 'tache lost out on Oscar night. And so did that magnificent top hat. 4 stars
6/19/05 Titus Uh . . . I don't get it. This was really pretty dumb. Waste of time. 2 stars
6/12/05 Agent Sands It's good, but not up to Scorsese par. 4 stars
4/21/05 pym day lewis is absolutely amazing. very good film but not scorcese's best 5 stars
4/16/05 buic very underrated film. perhaps the best movie ever made.... 5 stars
4/01/05 Cynthia Willingham Great film. Very well done all the way around 5 stars
2/18/05 susee wat the fuc the ending says 2 stars
2/16/05 Daveman Fabulous sets and some impressive performances (even from Leo), not much fun to sit through 3 stars
2/11/05 roy all i can say is wow. 5 stars
1/29/05 Bob Barton Great film...Scorsese should have won Best Director Oscar for this one. 5 stars
11/17/04 Theman987 Great 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER day-lewis deserved an oscar and the movie rocks 5 stars
10/15/04 Taylor Fladgate DiCaprio as an Irish gang leader? OOO, I'm scared! 1 stars
10/14/04 MARZ AWESOME. A LITTLE TO VIOLENT 5 stars
9/25/04 Tor Honolulu How can you not respect Marty's pet project? Danny & Leo do not disappoint 5 stars
8/27/04 Steve Newman Thoroughly enjoyable even overhere in the UK 4 stars
8/23/04 Naka Flawed, muddled, but a fully enjoyable run. 4 stars
8/09/04 kyotomatt People need to stop thinking boring=deep. WAKE UP! 1 stars
8/08/04 rory biggest oscar snub ever 5 stars
8/06/04 ELI um....What was so great about this movie? I hated all the characters! 2 stars
7/18/04 assassin_chick Emotionally charged--a lot is based on true history. We could learn something here. 5 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale Lewis overacts wonderfully and the scenery and fight sequences are incredible 4 stars
6/22/04 Daveman Convoluted and confused, but I'll be damned if there aren't some powerful moments here. 4 stars
6/08/04 horny guy AMAZING! 5 stars
5/18/04 rich do not miss this film. very touching indeed 5 stars
5/04/04 Whatevr A bit of overacting, but most certainly watchable 4 stars
3/23/04 Bikramjit Best movie of 2002 5 stars
3/06/04 zaw very good movie 5 stars
2/15/04 homer holy shit, it was long but it was one outstanding piece of work 5 stars
2/12/04 Chris terrible terrible 1 stars
2/11/04 Shams Huque Daniel Day-Lewis is incredibel! 5 stars
1/30/04 Ultron Daniel Day-Lewis is tremendous. 5 stars
1/20/04 will I agree with eric and erik - and also, diaz sucked hard 3 stars
1/15/04 gloria intersting movie,daniel day lewis is great 4 stars
1/02/04 A F Leo sucks. It needed a better cast. 4 stars
12/23/03 Joel W. De Sario I would rather take a beating then suffer through this mess again. 2 stars
12/04/03 reptilesni ZzzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 1 stars
11/14/03 Ultron Give praise to Daniel Day-Lewis for one of the all time great performances 5 stars
10/11/03 Jinnvisible Scorsese`s use of narrative to fill script and screenplay holes brings antique cinema feel 4 stars
10/09/03 Erik Van Sant Day-Lewis is a fucking force of nature. Too bad the movie can't handle it. CGI elephant. 3 stars
9/27/03 Alan First good DeCrapio role since "...Gilbert Grape." Maybe I should spell his name correctly. 4 stars
9/03/03 Gray "America was born in the streets"? horseshit!!!! maybe NY :) but not America 2 stars
8/14/03 WD40 Excellent! Especially Daniel Day-lewis 5 stars
8/07/03 guisada not impressed 3 stars
7/20/03 I Would Overblown, but worth a look for its beautiful art direction and costumes. 4 stars
7/17/03 EZE the wet dream of violent but epic masterpieces, good supporting actors too 5 stars
7/15/03 123 HOLLZ GREAT REALLY VIOLENT 5 stars
7/11/03 NBCraftsman Early America portrayed with the grandeur (&) spectacle of Fellini (see: Dante Ferretti) 4 stars
7/11/03 glad i saw it! wow great film so inspiring 5 stars
7/10/03 malcolm sweet land of liberty 4 stars
7/08/03 turbocharge Other than a misplaced Cameron Diaz whose character wasn't necessary, this was a great film 4 stars
7/07/03 JC like a braveheart for the civil war, and Dicaprio has finally grown up as an actor 5 stars
7/03/03 oey rome huh? 2 stars
6/12/03 owen barty wonderfull intelligent film 5 stars
6/07/03 MEGAN RAFFLE LEO WAS HOT.........GREAT MOVIE AS WELL 5 stars
6/06/03 amazing 1 word.....wow 5 stars
6/04/03 Elizaveta Its okay overall, but Daniel Day Lewis makes a great villain! 4 stars
5/23/03 Ryan F. Not Martins best by any means, but this IS a great movie. And Jesus Christ its bloody! 5 stars
5/16/03 beach *cough* what can i say cept plz dun make me go thru it again(IM BACK MISS ME??) 1 stars
5/16/03 Jareth Good film. You really do get the feeling you're in 19th Century New York 4 stars
5/13/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) Overrated, even though it's OK. Lots of blood. Not among Scorsese's best, though. 4 stars
5/11/03 Jack Bourbon I'm sorry, but this was complete SHIT. It has the stupidest characters since UHF. 1 stars
5/07/03 Danielle Bryant Great 5 stars
5/03/03 123 playa pretty hot movie 5 stars
5/01/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
4/24/03 Fran I hade to stop myself from hurl;ing at the crapness severeal times 1 stars
4/23/03 PLEASEBEQUIET one word to describe this movie-SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT 1 stars
4/23/03 GoldieHawn Im goldie hawn and i thought gangs of new york was horrible cameron and leo shouldnever act 1 stars
4/19/03 Dillon The "Matrix" set do not have opinions that matter. This is a great movie! 5 stars
4/15/03 JoE_fOr_PrEsIdEnT Wow what a hunk of junk. How can u say it is good havent u seen all the mistakes!PHEW! 1 stars
4/14/03 Francis I agree with Paquin's review, but it was still entertaining 4 stars
4/13/03 OrLaNdO_LoVeS_FrAn_4eVa What a piece of crap!Characters dull!Directing atrocious!!Please do not bother! 1 stars
4/09/03 Ross Bernard For once, Paquin's review is fairly accurate. This movie blew. 2 stars
4/07/03 y2mckay Like most of Scorcese's films - overlong, overedited, and gimmicky - but watchable. 4 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon STINKBOMB! Stupid, stupid, stupid characters. Fuck 'em, they deserved death. 2 stars
3/22/03 sicologus It is just magistral. Day-Lewis, you´re the one 5 stars
3/21/03 GMan One of Scorscese's best, despite DiCrapio. Long live Day-Lewis. And Brian, learn to spell. 5 stars
3/19/03 Shadaan Felfeli Mediocre .Go watch the Pianist instead ! 3 stars
3/19/03 Andrew Carden Good Performance By Diaz Cannot Save This Silly, Contrived, and Boring Flick. 2 stars
3/19/03 Debbie This movie sucks DICK! 1 stars
3/17/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
3/14/03 Angolmois Goodfellas-Lite... Except we also have to endure Diaz and DiCaprio's hamming... 1 stars
3/12/03 Stanleycup35 Unbelieveable. Probably the best movie I"ve ever seen 5 stars
3/12/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
3/01/03 King of Swords Not Marty's best but certainly watchable. Atanu is a big baby 4 stars
2/26/03 atanu yeah...an epic like britney spears is a 'diva'. grow up. 2 stars
2/25/03 James Renwick Just goes to show that average film making produces average films. 3 stars
2/24/03 meatgrinder mark bill the butcher is my hero- great fellow. ( francis dolarhyde is still no.1, though ) 5 stars
2/22/03 John Bale Stephen King meets Gone with the Wind. Bloody ! 4 stars
2/19/03 catatafish started great, ended abysmally - it seemed like they were running low on script 1 stars
2/13/03 wetware Could've been great editing lousy in parts good costumes DDL was good 3 stars
2/12/03 mattski mish mash which never really knows where it is heading 3 stars
2/10/03 Ultron The best(and most underrated film) of the year 5 stars
2/10/03 LaNeal Nelson it was wonderfuly done good some things were not really placed by historicaly evented, 4 stars
2/06/03 Goofy Maxwell 'GoNY' is not a NY Hist. Society or Tourism Board production. But it's sho nuff Scorsese. 5 stars
2/05/03 123 if this movie is ever worthy for an award, it is the most violent movie of the year 4 stars
1/26/03 Tobias Klevang Conventional and rather unpersonal for being Scorsese, still a very good film 4 stars
1/21/03 Bobby Peru Best Film of 2002-Bold, Big, Brilliant! 5 stars
1/14/03 thejames Leo is fucking great. Pretty good but not amazing. one of the better movies ive seen recent 4 stars
1/12/03 kosta dicrapio ate ass 1 stars
1/12/03 jesse williams i walked out....granted i snuck in...but i never do that 1 stars
1/11/03 David A. Tries to romanticize crime. Let's face it--street gangs are low class, illiterate scum. 3 stars
1/04/03 George Jung This movie had Daniel-Day Lewis, violence and tits...and the movie was still weak. 3 stars
12/31/02 Jesse the Movie Ventura Day Lewis holds this film in his fist. Waiting for two years and wasnt that good. 3 stars
12/31/02 STEVE GIVE DANIEL-DAY LEWIS AND THIS FILM THERE OSCARS NOW!BEST OF 2002 5 stars
12/31/02 F-Dog Best movie of the year. 5 stars
12/29/02 artemishia Pretty good but way too long. i was ready to leave the 1st hour 3 stars
12/29/02 Jiz Boring. 3 stars
12/29/02 Terry M. Last hour by far makes up for the love story, fucking awesome action sequences 5 stars
12/28/02 Tony Starks Daniel Day plays one of the bests villians in awhile!! 4 stars
12/27/02 Ashley Better than I thought it was going to be. Actually thought provoking at times. 4 stars
12/27/02 Terry M. Underrated 5 stars
12/26/02 ATG Overrated 3 stars
12/26/02 Jesse the Movie Ventura Scorsese's worst:-( Daniel Day-Lewis carries this film in his fist. 3 stars
12/26/02 snowconehead Mediocre acting from all but two, Daniel Day Lewis carried the entire 3 hours 5 stars
12/26/02 bob leather jacket high calibur 5 stars
12/23/02 Film Dude Not bad, but takes way too fucking long to get where it was going. 4 stars
12/22/02 Edler DD Lewis saves the film from the craphouse. The story is out of control. Absurd/Bizarre. 3 stars
12/22/02 Obi Wan Wow! Daniel Day @ his Best. . .Def one of the year's best!!! 5 stars
12/21/02 Terry M. easily one of the finest films to come out this year. stunning work from scorsese. 5 stars
12/21/02 Gary Great scenes, Cameron Diaz deserves best supporting actress!!!! 4 stars
12/20/02 Todd Lewis is the saving grace of an otherwise predictable film 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Dec-2002 (R)

UK
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Australia
  13-Feb-2003




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