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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Movie Review- The Revenant

Tom Hardy tries to make Leonardo DiCaprio swallow his Brussels sprouts in, The Revenant


Intro

As a life-long movie fan nearing the age of forty, I've seen a lot of actors who have come and go at the click of a clapboard (that zebra-striped thing that's used in between takes). There are some, however, that have stood the test of time and aged like a fine wine (I hate wine, but you get my point). Leonardo DiCaprio is by far one of the best examples of that. From the first time that I saw him as a water tower climbing mental handicap (who almost went full retard) in What's Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993, to a drug-addled stockbroker (who definitely got retarded behind the wheel of a Lamborghini) in The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013, I haven't seen much change in his commitment to a role. Just a deeper voice and some facial hair. He has made me a fan over the years. Not the kind that screams "Leo!" every time that he's mentioned or stalks him at every event to get my cleavage autographed but, as a fan who looks forward to his next performance. Because we all know that he's going to bring it every single time.

The Revenant

The only problem with having a star as talented as DiCaprio in your film, is that if you don't write his character with enough development and dialogue regardless of how commanding he performs it, you're not going to get the best overall movie possible. And that by far is the biggest and most fatal flaw with The Revenant; A breathtaking spectacle that has a lead character that I just didn't care about. Director Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman) asks us to go on a two and a half hour journey with Leo as he suffers through some of the most horrific situations ever seen on film, and yet his character isn't set up properly. Sure there are flashbacks to explain his past, but they're quick and do not have any emotional resonance. It is absolutely confusing to have such an amazing film with so many attributes, falter because of a few minor mistakes that turned out to be huge. If that doesn't explain how difficult good filmmaking is, then I don't know what else to tell you. The cinematography is probably the best I've ever seen. It's so great that I caught myself wondering how much planning went into every single scene while I was watching it. Aside from the scenery, the coordination it took to deliver some long takes as the camera follows multiple people and action is exciting. Also, the musical score, makeup, costumes, and brutal violence, intertwine into a symphony of carnage in front of the camera. There's a level of tension that keeps a feeling of uncertainty during the entire film. It's so strong that even DiCaprio's guaranteed survival still comes into question from time to time. The score does overwhelm some of the dialogue, however I can forgive it since it adds to the confusion during battle. What I cannot forgive, is how long The Revenant takes to get to the point with long scenes of crawling and trudging through the snowy landscape, instead of setting the story up properly. In my humblest of opinions, those scenes should have been cut down to integrate more of the characters and their motivations.
Even with a lack of dialogue, DiCaprio makes you see what he's experiencing. Through his grunts and groans, you know that he's in a god awful amount of pain. I would feel sympathy for him, but his costar steals the show and makes you want to follow him instead. Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) is a tour de force villain that garners more attention and broadens his acting range with every line uttered from his mouth. He's the survivalist bad guy that commits some unforgivable acts, yet I couldn't help but root for him for the entire film. He's just that good, and better written than DiCaprio's. Hardy's seems to be the only character that was given ample attention to in the writing process. Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina) and Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) have a fair amount of scenes, but they're the only ones. Everyone else, especially the Indians (for lack of a better word), are shown as brutal mindless savages that have no proper explanation for their actions until long after the damage has already been done. Come to think of it, this movie is partially like a more beautiful version of Dances with Wolves with worse character development.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Revenant

The Good- The intro attack, vicious bear mauling, horses can't fly, the Indian helper, revenge on rape, and DiCaprio vs Hardy.
The Bad- Should have been called, The Passion of the DiCaprio. Flashbacks are a Gladiator rip-off. Something's wrong when you care more about the villain.
The Ugly- If more time had been spent on the characters, and less on the look, this movie would have been an instant classic.

Final Thoughts

The Revenant is a must-see for moviegoers that can appreciate the effort that was put into it. Having said that, it is a stunning disappointment that I won't forget about anytime soon. I felt completely indifferent to DiCaprio's character. That hurt this movie big time. Why should we go along with him through all of that torture and struggle if we feel nothing? At least, Jesus had a handful of good writers. Too soon?
Rating- 6 out of 10
        
               

The Revenant (2015)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  | 8 January 2016 (USA) 

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (as Alejandro G. Iñárritu)    


Writers: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay)     

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter   

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