Review: The Revenant

Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - January 08, 2016
Review: The Revenant

What does it take to make a good movie? Decent cinematography, tolerable acting, and competent directing will combine to deliver a film most will enjoy. However, to make a film that lasts the test of time, that drags people through continuous oceans of emotions, and which causes critics and citizens alike to question whether what they saw was truly greatness, it takes more, a lot more. People often times have difficulty recognizing greatness until being many years removed from it. Presidents are seen as common Presidents, until we can reflect on their accomplishments 20 years later. Talent is both instantly recognized and instantly under appreciated. A film like The Revenant will galvanize feelings of awe, followed by examination of what you just witnessed. The Revenant composes of world class cinematography, purely excellent performances by both the lead roles and supporting cast, and an inventive director not only wiling to take risks, but not accepting anything but perfection.
The Revenant follows Hugh Glass(Leonardo DiCaprio), who is left half dead by his trifling travel companion, John Fitzgerald(Tom Hardy), who also happens to murder Glass’s only son along the way. Glass must overcome all obstacles and crawl back from the afterlife to seek revenge on Fitzgerald. Through his travels, which largely consist of perpetual pain and struggle, he must avoid Native American tribes out for blood against any white man they may encounter.

Director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, superbly communicates this plot line, adapting a screenplay based on a novel by Michael Punke. He accomplishes this with the assistance of impeccable portrayals of the characters all around, of course most prominently DiCaprio, but certainly by Hardy as well, and including Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Captain Andrew Henry. In addition to that, we have the privilege of viewing career changing roles performed by Will Poulter as Bridger, and Forrest Goodluck as Hawk, two young actors definitely on the rise. Iñárritu is able to illustrate these characters, while incorporating relatively minimal dialog in this narrative, with DiCaprio’s character largely unable to speak for the vast majority of the movie.

Film after film, Leonardo DiCaprio exhibits a masterful performance, and provides us with a glorious depiction of what it means to act. DiCaprio encapsulates the role he plays, and disseminates the passion and attitude of the character, provoking the audience to feel the characters success or struggle. Leo’s done this in countless productions, most notably “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, “Titanic”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, all of which he has done whilst being withheld the highest honor an actor can receive in film, an Oscar. In The Revenant, that should change. Combining forces with the proven brilliance of Iñárritu(“Birdman”, “Babel”, “21 Grams”), they have produced what I consider the finest works of theater, in regards to both technical and performance execution, that I have witnessed in many, many years.

Undoubtably the most fascinating element to The Revenant is the cinematography. The Revenant was shot in Calgary, Alberta with weather conditions most of us wouldn’t even consider leaving the house in. In addition to that, this film is impeccably shot using only natural light, allowing for some truly breathtaking scenes. The majority of viewers will not understand how difficult something such as that is to execute, however I assure you it is near impossible. Other technical aspects, such as score and editing, would stand alone as admirable, if not for the pure excellence the other elements in this film comprise of.

The Revenant is not just a movie, it is an experience. This narrative is two and a half hours of greatness, and should be used as a guideline of perfection for other filmmakers. Admittedly, The Revenant is exceedingly pretentious, or at least can be interpreted that way, but it has earned that right. In speaking to other critics, the main criticisms of The Revenant is the amount of suffering and gore it consists of. While that is understandable, it is important to separate yourself from real life to understand and appreciate this narrative. There absolutely is a high amount of blood and guts, comparable to what you would expect in a war scene, but every drop of said blood is indispensable. Whether you’re a film buff, and avid movie viewer, or simply want to be entertained, you must see The Revenant. Fair warning, however, once you view this film, it will change the way you see movies for quite a while, as you will hold other movies to highest standards. The Revenant certainly reiterated two things: Alejandro González Iñárritu is among the elite Directors, and Leonardo DiCaprio needs an Oscar, now!

Official Trailer:

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