Leo's Finally Gonna Win an Oscar, Everybody!
The Revenant (2015): A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820's fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
John Wayne would be jealous. The Revanant is, simply put, the most realistic Western ever filmed. This is thanks almost entirely to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and his daring decision to film this entire movie using only natural light sources. What ensues is 157 harrowing minutes of a brutally realistic tale of survival. The film also features another fantastic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, which does put him in perfect position to finally win his first ever Oscar. If he doesn't, then this year more than any other year will showcase the pettiness of the Academy. (Yes. He made a political statement back at the 1998 Oscars by not showing up when he wasn't nominated for his performance in Titanic. (Though can you seriously blame him when he wasn't nominated and Kate Winslet was? Because let's be real-her performance is easily the worst part about that film.)) But it's time to let that go, Academy. He is incredible here in The Revenant, and so is Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, (what a freaking year this guy has had) Will Poulter, and Forrest Goodluck. Who is a complete nobody, by the way. Goodluck has fewer credits than even Daisy Ridley going into this film, so kudos to him for putting in a great performance. ALL THAT SAID, however, this film is by no means a perfect film. Or really anything near perfect, for that matter. And I have no intention of seeing it again anytime soon. So what do I mean by that?
I usually talk about the positives first, but that segue kinda requires me to talk about the negatives now. So! What's wrong with The Revenant? It's too long. Yup. Holy crap is this film too long. Now, before you say I hate long films, I must mention that my favorite film of all-time is Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition. That film comes in at an unheard of 250 minutes. So, what does that film have in 250 minutes that this film doesn't have? Scenes like this, also known as humor. It has humor. Or scenes like this. Scenes that make you get up and cheer. The Revenant has none of that. It's 157 minutes of sheer brutal survival, and when Gravity feels like an epic when its only 91 minutes long, how can you not think The Revenant is too long at almost twice that lenght? 157 minutes felt like 500 minutes watching this movie. It was utterly exhausting to watch, despite how gorgeous everything looked.
While this is a major gripe I have against this film, (the story itself) and will likely reduce it to nothing more than an honorable mention on my top ten list, it will still be an honorable mention because of everything else. Because yes, this film is a technical and acting masterpiece. Emmanuel Lubezki is certainly on his way to his third straight Oscar for cinematography, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu just might become the first man since Joseph Mankiewicz all the way back in 1950/1951 to win the Oscar for Best Director in back-to-back years. (Though if it were up to me I'd give the award to George Miller because the production cycle of Mad Max was ridiculous.) But this film would be deserving of the award nonetheless because of the artistic accomplishments here. However this greatly limits the appeal of this film, and due to the strenuous experience that is watching it....it's simply not as good as 2014's Birdman. Hopefully Iñárritu will find his magic again with his next film.
The Critique: While a technical masterpiece, The Revenant suffers from being overlong and humorless, making it a very rough movie-watching experience. Whether you enjoy that or not is up to you.
The Recommendation: Definitely not for everyone, The Revenant is worth seeing, but only after some mental preparation. I'd say wait for it to come out on HBO and watch it with some friends/beers.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 8/10 Great.
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