Now, with spoilers, my Gangs of New York review.
I didn't have high hopes going in. Yes, I heard good things, but really, how good can a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz be? And while my hopes were buoyed by the start of the film, the final verdict remains decidedly mixed - it's really just a big revenge story mixed with an impressive historical backdrop. However impressive, though, all the historical stuff seems to do is stretch the movie to being way too long.
The sets and costumes were awesome. The historical stuff was a treat. Boss Tweed, so cool. The soundtrack worked *very* well with the film, too. I'm considering trying to track it down on the cheap.
Oh, and the opening battle? A TREAT. As they were preparing, I was horrified by the fact that they were using, basically, medieval weaponry. It also introduced the character we didn't get nearly enough of, Hellcat Maggie.
(Though, maybe I'm just desensitized by seeing Kill Bill a couple days ago, but the movie as a whole wasn't *that* gory.)
After seeing the film, I now think Daniel Day-Lewis deserved the Oscar nomination. (Even after finding out they were originally thinking of putting Willem Dafoe in the role!) However, all the other characters in the film are really without any real depth, and there's only so much you can work with there. Cameron Diaz, if I didn't know it was her, I wouldn't have recognized her. So, hats off for not annoying me!
But, yeah. How important were all the historical events to the movie? I mean, we hit on the draft, prohibition, corrupt government, the gangs, etc. etc. Lots and lots of topics, but the immigration explosion was really the only important one to the plot.
(Oh, and when the Butcher said he was gonna disfigure Leo, I was all excited! But then he gives him this tiny burn. Bo-ring. I expected more, really.)
Red Queen pointed out they could have eliminated Cameron Diaz's character completely, and nothing would be lost from the main plot. Which is a problem.
But anyways. Unfilling.