The Revenant Review

23 Dec


The pure craft of this film is undeniable. I want to print and frame every single shot, apologize to Roger Deakins for probably missing out on that Oscar again, and spend the rest of my days marveling at the breathtaking beauty of Emmanuel Lubezki’s work. The two sequences that open the movie–the Arikara attack and the bear attack–are astonishing in both their brutality and in the skill that obviously went into them. After that, the film doesn’t reach those types of highs again, but the opening still sets the stage for two and a half hours of intensity, suffering, and violence.

The movie does have its problems, most of them stemming from Inarritu’s more irritating tendencies. He attempts to create a foundation for Hugh Glass’s revenge story, utilizing flashbacks and visions and thin supporting characters in order to provide us with an emotional connection to the character’s past. He also attempts to tackle the Native American perspective, but the problem is that he doesn’t have the tightest grasp around any material outside of the main plot. These other elements seem to exist solely to half-heartedly “enrich” Glass’s storyline, and it’s a shame because this film could’ve been more complex than it is now. Nevertheless, it does a simple revenge and survival plot well, and when it is able to commit to that, it is at its most compelling.

The anchors of this plot are Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, both turning in excellent performances as Hugh Glass and John Fitzgerald, respectively. Whereas The Wolf of Wall Street featured a Leo doing physical comedy, this movie features a Leo doing physical misery. He doesn’t speak much throughout, and we are bombarded with image after image of him struggling to survive in the harsh conditions. It’s a very sensory experience for the audience, and Inarritu intends to show us every last bit of a cruel nature and emphasize a human’s capacity for survival. Lubezki’s gorgeous panoramas frequently capture similar ideas as well: one shot in particular consists of Glass walking toward snow-capped mountains in the background, and he’s just a small speck in an expansive wilderness. It’s serene, yet foreboding. Nature may be beautiful, but it will break you.



-I need to watch that opening scene again. The camera follows one guy until he dies, then the next guy until he dies, and so on and so forth. It sounds so cool, and it IS really cool.

Photo credit: The Revenant, Anonymous Content, 20th Century Fox


7 Responses to “The Revenant Review”

  1. peggyatthemovies December 23, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Well you know how I feel about this film..hahahhaha so yeah.. I think you are one of the people like me who recognize it as a ‘revenge’ film also.. so many I’ve talked to didn’t get that point, while it was plain & simple to me. Like Mad Max – this is a film I need to see a few times for the sheer brilliance of it all. But my bigger question is (drum roll please) do you think as I do that Leo will finally take home his Oscar?? 😀 PS.. so glad you loved it too..and’s not out yet..where did you get to see it???

    • polarbears16 December 23, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Yup, it’s fairly clear to me what the film revolves around. I know some people were unhappy it really wasn’t more than a simple revenge plot, especially because of the movie’s length, and I guess that’s a fair concern. But in the end, what this movie does extremely well is craft a beautiful and brutal revenge/survival story.

      I do think Leo will finally win for this! This year’s Best Actor race isn’t as strong as the Best Actress race in my opinion, and I doubt Redmayne (Leo’s main competition) will win two years in a row.

      Saw it online from someone’s DVD screener because I absolutely could not wait. But I plan on seeing it again in theaters once I’m able! Seeing it on a computer screen doesn’t capture its full glory.

      • peggyatthemovies December 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

        Wow!! an Oscar ARE making friends fast here!! hahahahaha but yes, you do need to see it on the big’s truly meant for nothing else but that. For me, Leo’s competition is Depp – who has a good chance, Redmayne – tho while good, not an Oscar perf. this time round and did you see Legend? Tom Hardy was superb as the Kray twins..the movie was ok..but damn he was good! I haven’t seen Hateful or Will Smith’s who knows what comes out of that. 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

      • polarbears16 December 23, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

        I feel like Depp has faded in voters’ eyes, but it was a solid performance and he could make it in there, yes. I completely agree on Redmayne not giving an Oscar-worthy performance…like you said, it was just good. Fassbender has also faded a bit but he gave an excellent performance. Damon was good but by no means Oscar worthy. Cranston is a surprise considering the lukewarm Trumbo reception.

        I really want to see Legend! I don’t see the voters nominating that movie though. Heard good things about Smith’s performance. Seeing Hateful Eight tomorrow and I’m excited! Merry Christmas to you too. 🙂

  2. bhammel103 December 23, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    It was a great movie. Beautiful. Brutal. Ambitious. But i have no intention of watching it again anytime soon.

  3. Catherine December 24, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    I’m so excited to see this movie!! Can’t wait to see what plays out for it during awards season.


  1. My Top 20 Films of 2015 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 9, 2016

    […] The Revenant: As an attempt at a profound emotional story, the film is lacking. However, I tend to focus on the […]

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