Tea: Ice-cold water from a rusty metal flask (manly!)
Another year, another potential Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio. And since this joke is so overdone and frankly not funny I will get it out of the way first, so we can judge the movie on a seemingly objective (but in reality absolutely subjective) basis. Leonardo is a great actor, an outstanding one even. You know it, I know it, and the industry knows it (he probably does as well). A shiny naked man is no proof of anything and most of all a symbol of this industry congratulating themselves on their ‘great achievements’. With all the inevitable Leonardo NoOscaro jokes gone let’s take a look at almost three hours of heavy breathing.
The Revenant tells the story of Hugh Glass a white man that has a son with a Native American woman who now both work in the service of an American company by securing bear hides to sell. Something goes terribly wrong, however, and they are forced to get back to their camp on foot. During the way back Glass gets brutally mauled by a bear and is left severely injured. With no other option most of the men leave him behind to pick him up later. Only his son, a young boy, and Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy) stay behind. However, Tom Hardy’s only interest is money and not the life of Glass that hangs in the balance. I will leave it at that for now. The story and characters are certainly not the biggest strength of The Revenant, in fact they are a rather glaring weak point.
– Sadly, Glass remains rather undeveloped –
The plot of this movie is very predictable. Characters behave in laughably stereotypical ways. And there are really no redeeming factors to the overall plot level. But this is merely the framework for the experience that is the movie. Does that mean I will gloss over a weak story and characters? Certainly not! Not under my watch. This area could have used a lot more attention and needlessly drags the film down. Yet, I would not say that The Revenant isn’t engaging, it does so simply on a totally different level. Comic book movies are also prone to incredibly bad writing and underdeveloped characters and, with the right mind set, they are enjoyable as well. So the same goes for The Revenant. It is a movie about the experience of going through the harsh wilderness and not so much the emotional level of the characters. Simple agendas for simple men.
– Heavy breathing and pain scarred expressions make up 70% of this movie’s runtime –
The biggest selling point for this movie are the visuals. The camera work is some of the best I have ever seen with beautiful landscape shots, expertly choreographed and filmed sequences, and long shots without a single cut. Some scenes were even filmed with only the sun as the natural light source. Now that is quite dedicated (and maybe a little bit mad). Most of the time it almost seems to blur the line between actors staging their pain and suffering and actually experiencing them. The fight scenes are equally well done and have a bit of 4th –wall breaking as well, since sometimes blood stays on the camera, not only illustrating how long and drawn out these shots are, but also how up close and personal they were filmed. Giving it a touch more realism and making the audience feel as if they truly are watching a fight take place and blood could splash on their faces any second.
– Visually this movie is absolutely stunning –
A bit of a mixed bag is the character of DiCaprio. While he is certainly playing outstandingly well, he kind of does the same thing throughout the movie: Suffer, scream, and breathe heavy in an attempt not to scream. All of that only because he keeps taking one beating after the other and nothing can kill him. It is a bit ridiculous what level of physical abuse he can sustain, especially near the end, but I get that his motivation for the entire journey is what is keeping him alive and therefore he powers through all the pain and inexplicably healed broken feet. The other main star is Tom Hardy’s Fitzgerald and one that deserves far more recognition in my mind. He plays subtle and effective. His emotions are very well accentuated and appear only to those looking for them. Most of the time he will seem aloof and not bothered by a lot of things happening around him, but since the audiences knows what position he is in later on they can track down the slightest hint of those emotions in his expression. Truly amazing, if you ask me that is.
– In my opinion, the real star of the movie –
What I definitely did not like – or rather would have changed – is the ending. While I get the point of the last scene, it is in somewhat stark contrast to the rest of the movie. Of course, I will not spoil it here, let’s just say I would have stopped the movie at a point the audience can see blood and a river. That would have been a fitting conclusion to this movie. As it stands right now, it only extends an aspect of the movie that felt unnecessary and forced in to begin with.
All that being said, I can still recommend The Revenant for the journey. This is a movie you have to see in cinema to appreciate it. Furthermore, I would argue that you can only fully enjoy it in a movie theatre of your choice. Otherwise the visuals and sound design simply gets lost along the way and the story can certainly not save it. If I had to give a price (not an Oscar) to anyone in this movie, it would be for best camera and the second one to Tom Hardy. So go see The Revenant if you are in the mood for some gritty violence, stunning visuals, and not much on a plot level.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/film/the%20revenant/dicaprio-xlarge.jpg (Last date of access: 21.01.2016)
- http://s2.dmcdn.net/NTY9d.jpg (Last date of access: 21.01.2016)
- http://cdn.indiewire.psdops.com/dims4/INDIEWIRE/0b63350/2147483647/thumbnail/680×478/quality/90/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdl9fvu4r30qs1.cloudfront.net%2F18%2F9a%2F98795fe94c96b581ca42a21641df%2Fthe-revenant-118198363310511.jpg (Last date of access: 21.01.2016)
- http://www.filmverliebt.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/revenant-gallery-16-gallery-image_hardy.jpg (Last date of access: 21.01.2016)