starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent
screenplay by Jay Cocks and Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan
directed by Martin Scorsese
by Walter Chaw Beginning as Martin Scorsese's Apocalypse Now, Gangs of New York, at the end of the auteur's thirty-year dream of it, more resembles his Titanic. Buoyed on a tsunami of dark rumors of behind-the-scenes clashes (the line "Please don't make that sound again, Harvey" registering as either a jab or a plea to Miramax head Harvey Weinstein), eleventh-hour cuts, and release delays pushing the film nearly a year from its projected release date, the picture is a booming, period-exact mess: disinteresting, unbalanced, and burdened by the weight of too much ambition blinding an artist to his celluloid offspring's congenital, mortal defects--hubris redefined for the postmodern age. Though sprawling, it reduces to a series of vaguely-connected dramatic snippets that largely fail to anchor the film to any specific place (exception being a visually, viscerally arresting stream of coffins unloaded from ships ferrying the dead from the frontlines of the Civil War). It's a malady exacerbated by the fact that the same five or six characters--played, with one stunning exception, as tepid variations on banal--seem to be everywhere in New York at all times.