January 13, 2016

Movie Review: The Revenant (2015)

Going in to seeing The Revenant, I found it hard to ignore some facts regarding the production. It is not that I was seeking this information, but when you travel in certain circles, it becomes,a bit difficult to completely avoid it. With regards to this film, much has been made of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu shooting it entirely with natural light, leading to some days only having twenty minutes of shooting time. The there is Leonardo Dicaprio who did much of his own work, going through the rigors of the elements and having some issue with the raw liver. Not that this should have an impact on the movie itself, but sometimes it can color an opinion.

Do not get me wrong, both of these men are very talented and The Revenant is quite an achievement and a very good movie, but I think there is a desire to give it greatness based on outside factors, the gimmicks, if you will. It is not like they had to shoot it this way, and when the film is processed and color times, that would seem to take away the gimmick of natural light, and to think Leo was ever I any actual danger I think is foolish. Again, not trying to take anything away, I am sure this was a difficult shoot and the film is more than worthy of spending time and money on.

As for the movie itself, it is a tale of survival in the unforgiving wilderness. I am not sure the exact time frame, but I would not have been surprised to have seen them stop by Minnie’s Haberdashery (from The Hateful Eight). It is a story of a hunting expedition to gather animal pelts that gets attacked by a tribe of Indians. This forces them to abandon much of what they got and look for a new way home. Along for the journey is a fellow named Glass (Dicaprio), a guide who is accompanied by his half Indian son. They are not exactly looked upon too fondly, especially by the hardened frontiersman Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

The story’s big turn comes in the form of a bear attack that leaves Glass almost dead,and the troupe to decide what his fate will be. From here, it takes on a bleak seriousness that carries through to the finale. I hesitate to give too much away, but there is a lot of barely surviving sorts of things going on.

The movie takes on the atmosphere of a revenge film that sets up Glass and Fitzgerald on the opposite sides of the line. Watching Glass’s journey from the bear attack and his struggle to just survive is rather fascinating.

At the same time, I felt there were stretches of the feature that just dragged on. It felt a touch long and the bleak surroundings and nature of the tale kept me emotionally distant. It felt like I was watching bits of the Leo Stunt Show mixed in with what was supposed to be an emotionally exhausting journey. Sometimes I felt like he was not being emotional, exactly, so much as he was just really cold.

As I wrote this, the sad thing is that I find it very easy t make it appear that I really did not like the movie, which is just not true. I liked it very much, it just isn't great. I needed more of an emotional investment that just wasn't there. The stores felt a little one note and playing second fiddle to the nature survival, rather than the two becoming one thing. With that said, the acting was first rate, it looks gorgeous, and there is some great music throughout

It is an easy movie to recommend, and I am sad that I cannot put myself behind it the way that I really wanted to. But there are some things that just don't work for me. This also makes it interesting to comment on as it puts into contrast the ideas of what movies I give passes to for certain things. Not sure I will ever understand why some things affect me they way they do.

The Revenant has a lot going for it, is worthy of the praise it gets, I just have my own issues when I watch it. I will watch it again, maybe I will see it differently and like it even more then. It is a movie that I feel deserves multiple viewings. It is shot beautifully, has a great score, and some very good performances. See it, you will likely love it more than I do.


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