It’s only a couple of weeks until the Oscars now, and I finally get round to seeing one of the frontrunners-The Revenant. But after Alejandro G. Inarritu’s last film Birdman won Best Director and Best Picture can Inarritu possibly strike gold again a year later?
In 1823 a group of trappers are left stranded after an ambush by a Native American party. As they try to head back to safety hunter Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is badly mauled by a bear. While the majority of the group go onhead for help, John Fitzgerald -one of the men left to look after him- manipulates events to leave Glass half burried in a man made grave. Barely alive and heavily injured Glass must survive on his wits and his will for revenge to make it back.
This is a movie based on real events, and it’s an impressive story of one man’s struggle to survive against the odds. Battling aginst nature, animals and other men, Inarritu immerses you into Glass’ journey. You feel the brutal coldness of the wildlife and the harshness of the elements. Sometimes the movie feels like an endurance, which is probably exactly how Inarritu intended The Revenant to be.
There are impressive set peieces such as the attack on the trappers by the Native Americans at the beginning of the movie and the bear attack attack on Glass. The make up on display here is amazing, all of Glass’ injruies are shown in glory, bloody detail, if it wasn’t based on a true story you would think Hollywood was getting too ridiculous in it’s fight for survival stories. DiCaprio makes a strong bid for his long awaited Oscar for Best Actor, although I think his turn in The Wolf of Wall Street is still his most impressive performance. In supporting roles Tom Hardy is good but I was more impressed by Will Poulter as the conflicted, naive Jim Bridger.
However much I like The Revenant, I left feeling as though it was more a film to admire rather than love. Inarritu is a great director but as one of the front runners for Best Picture at the Oscars I feel The Big Short and Room are more deserving of the big win out of all the films I’ve seen so far. The beginning is great and so is the bear attack and the majority of Glass’ journey, but the film is 156 mins long and you really start to feel this in the second half of the movie. I was really intreaged by the subplot of the Arikara Native American party who is on their own search for revenge, but it ends up being a disapointment. And while I could suspend my disbeleief over Glass’ bear attack and recovering from being half buried alive (as these are based on real events), I was struggling more when Glass manages to survive gallaping off a cliff on a horse (the horse more realistically does not survive). There were also moments which I suspect were meant to be heartfelt and tear-jerking such as when Glass sees visions of his dead wife, but it ends up being more distracting and unintentionally funny.
Maybe this is what happens as a result of being the most hyped up movie of the Oscar season, by the time I got round to see The Revenant it was bound to be an uphill battle. Also after having seen The Hateful Eight, Everest and The Revenant in a space of a few weeks I’m getting a bit sick of movies set in the cold and the snow. Hopefully the next trend will be movies set in the Bahamas.
Rating 3.5/5 – stunning cinematography, direction and acting but way too long