Review: The Revenant (★★★½)

3-5-stars

The Revenant is that movie that you’ll urge people to go and see. Not because it’s a masterpiece, but because you really want to talk to people about its set pieces. Those set pieces, though, are what hold the film up. It’s just a shame that they happen to bookmark a rather long and drawn out movie.

It has, hands down, the best cinematography you are going to see this year. Sweeping shots of the barren wilderness is juxtaposed perfectly with intense and claustrophobic close-ups to create a lonely yet personal experience.
The sound design is also splendid with the score being sparse and sombre which echoes to a backdrop of the expansive American wilderness, which marries together to give a visually stimulating cinema experience.

As stated, the movie starts strong; with grounded long shots that really gives you a sense of the entrapment and danger that the characters are faced with while being hunted down by the natives.

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However, it’s the bear scene that everyone has come for that really steals the show. It’s brutal, desperate and painful to watch. You really forget the bear isn’t real. The CGI team have done a fantastic job not only making the bear visually striking but making it feel part of the scene. The bear has weight to it and you can see this in DiCaprios performance which is gruelling to say the least. This is the movie that he will win the Oscar for, hands down. I feel that he has screamed and cried enough to finally be honoured by the Academy, with the final shot being one of DiCaprio looking piercingly at the camera almost breaking the fourth wall with a look of, ‘Good enough for ya?’

The film then goes to follow his abandonment and struggle to find the men that left him for dead. That’s all there is to the plot, which isn’t to its detriment. I see this movie as a gritty telling of a classic revenge western, however, that’s all you need. The performances stand tall with Hardy giving, yet again, another brilliant performance with strong vocal delivery of a character, much like Mad Max, who’s had one too many bowls of Crunch Nut Slate Flakes. It got to the stage where Hardy became inaudible, with him quietly rumbling his way through conversations. If this trait continues with Hardy, I fully expect his vocal delivery, by the turn of the next decade, to resemble the tripods from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.

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The movie continues with an outstanding sense of tension. It’s these scenes that Iñárritu gets absolutely perfect; you really root for Glass and really want to see how his story unfolds. However, it was on my second watching that I really started to notice the cracks form. After the initial hour, nothing really happens. A good 30 minutes, minimum, could have been removed from this movie. Be that the pretentious dream sequences which serve little purpose to the plot or the plethora of expansive nature documentary shots. The movie drags heavily when approaching its middle point and doesn’t really pick up again until the final 45 minutes of the movie. It’s frustrating sitting there and seeing that there is a really great movie within this and if only it was edited carefully down to just less than two hours, it would have had the pace it so desperately needed.

Once the movie picks up again, after Glass’ close encounter with a horse that can only be described as Eli Roth’s interpretation of the rhino scene from Ace Ventura, does it stride to its conclusion. The payoff is definitely worth the wait. It’s just a shame it takes so much to build up to it.

The movie is awesome, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the kind of dictionary definition type of awesome. It has awe-inspiring moments that people will be talking about for many years to come. However, it’s a pity that such a gorgeous film loses its bearings and meanders around before finally heading in the right direction.

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