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Movie Breakdown: The Revenant

January 8, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is a brilliant filmmaker, and Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of all-time.  Plus there’s Tom Hardy!  Also, who doesn’t love a good revenge tale?  I’m all in for The Revenant.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Revenant is a visually stunning film.  You could easily watch it with no sound and you’d still be amazed.  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu clearly spared no expense on eye-pleasing imagery, and his tracking shots are as on point as ever throughout the film.  The Revenant is – to be super clear – a total treat to just look at.

As for the plot, which follows a man (Leonardo DiCaprio in Oscar-winning mode) crawling out of the wilderness in an attempt to seek revenge on the meanie head (Tom Hardy as mumbly and brilliant as ever) that left him for dead, is pretty straightforward and, to be honest, a little thin.  This is where The Revenant stumbles.  Sure, it features great performances, the film itself is intense and brutal, and there are more breathtaking shots on display than any of us deserve, but there is a point where the lack of a more compelling story makes the movie’s various artsy elements feel like a bit much.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed The Revenant, but it would be silly to ignore how it plays as though a message saying “look how serious we are about our art” might scroll across the screen at any moment.

See The Revenant because you should, but downshift your expectations a bit.  It feels more like a work of art than a movie, and that’s not exactly the point of it all, is it?

One Last Thought:

Unless the Academy just really takes issue with the fact that Leo didn’t fight a real bear in The Revenant, I think he’ll finally get his Oscar.

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Movie Breakdown: The Revenant (Noah)

January 8, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Inarritu is one of the modern masters of cinema. I’d watch his take on a dog pooing in someone’s lawn.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Revenant is, technically, an outstanding achievement. By this point you’ve read the articles touting it’s intense shoot (below freezing weather, fights amongst actors and director, an unyielding request to have the film entirely shot in natural light) and the unbearable acts Inarritu demanded of his cast (Leo ate a liver!) and all of this comes across in the film. It is a staggeringly beautiful movie that is relentless in portraying the hardships of a) being a mountain man in the 19th century and b) fighting back from death in an icy landscape before chasing your almost-killer through hellish conditions. This is a brutally violent (in all aspects) film that never lets up for a moment. Leonardo DiCaprio is very good as a Hugh Glass (the mountain man who seeks vengeance) but he can’t compare to the muttering anger Tom Hardy, a scalping survivor, who nearly murders Glass, well, mostly because he’s bored. So, the film is beautiful, harrowing and well-acted – but why can’t I just come out and say I loved it? Because I didn’t. As much of a technical achievement as it is and as many times as my mouth dropped in astonishment from some artfully crafted battle scene, well, the film is a just a little bit boring. After nearly three hours of watching and waiting for Hugh Glass to get his, the film starts to feel a bit empty, a bit hollow beneath it’s gorgeous surface. More so, at times Inarritu’s obsession with making this a visually astounding film (hope you like tracking shots) becomes distracting. I spent so much time marveling at how he might’ve accomplished a certain ridiculous shot (Hugh Glass falling off the cliff is one that comes to mind) I stopped paying attention to what really drives what is essentially a two-person film – the characters. DiCaprio and Hardy do a shit-ton with what they have, unearthing motivations I don’t know if anyone believed actually lived in this script, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a revenge film, gussied up and drawn out to great lengths because, well, that’s what great films do. All of this film-bashing aside though, you should see The Revenant not only because of it’s achievements on a technical scale because nowadays it’s such a damn rarity to see a true master get the opportunity to make a good old-fashioned film.

One Last Thought:

Sometimes pretty isn’t everything.

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