The Revenant (2015) Poster

(2015)

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9/10
Visual poetry - and a celebration of human resilience as well as an ode to the savage beauty of nature
gogoschka-123 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A lot has been said and written about this film, mostly about its troubled production - forget all that: it has no meaning whatsoever for the experience this film provides. A word of advice though: if you go in expecting a testosterone-fueled revenge thriller in the vein of 'Apocalypto', you'll likely end up disappointed. It's simply not that kind of film - but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it if you watch it with the right expectations.

'The Revenant' opens with images from a dream; we see snippets of memories showing a peaceful life - and soon the loss of that peace, and the loss of life. The images change and we hear the soothing sound of gurgling water as we follow the camera via a long tracking shot over a flooded forest; it's an image that seems to imply peace, evoking nature's beauty with an almost meditative quality - before the barrel of a rifle appears in the frame.

Those first three minutes I just described (which are the only spoilers you will get in this review) set the tone for the film perfectly. It's a film that tells a story of harrowing circumstances through images that are breathtakingly beautiful; a film about survival and death and shocking acts of sudden violence - and yet a film that, despite all its visceral intensity, also has a quiet, immersive quality to it that feels almost hypnotic.

Many critics and reviewers point out the stark contrast between the film's poetic beauty and the ugliness of its violence - implying the director wants to use this contrast to make a certain point regarding mankind's interference with nature. While that would seem pretty obvious (and it probably is at least partly true), I left the film feeling Iñarritu had shown me a vaster, far too complete image of the clash between man and nature to justify such a simplistic interpretation of the events portrayed on screen. Whether intentionally or not, Iñarritu shows the star of his film with a complexity and honesty that we normally don't get to see in these kinds of stories. And I'm not talking about Leonardo DiCaprio here (who gives a no-holds-barred, crazy good performance and I'd love to see him win an Oscar for this film) - the star of this film is not a person: it IS nature, plain and simple.

The revenge plot - which feels almost like an afterthought or a ploy to give the film a certain structure and a proper ending - is not really the film's main theme or strongest aspect, and it certainly isn't the reason that made this film so compelling to watch for me. Such stories have been told often enough - and often better - than in 'The Revenant'. No, what really makes this film stand out for me is that I have NEVER seen a Hollywood film (any film, really - apart from documentaries) that shows nature in such an unflinchingly honest and mesmerizing way as is the case here. And the way I perceive it, Iñarritu sees his human protagonists as being very much a part of nature as a whole - regardless of their destructive behaviour.

It's that refreshingly holistic approach (which some viewers might perceive as nihilism on the director's part) that I find to be the film's biggest accomplishment: it depicts the people in this story as just another species trying to survive in that perilous frontier-world. The emphasis is not really on the moral aspects of the brutal injustice that the main character suffers or how the Native Americans are cruelly exploited; we witness all that - but Iñarritu keeps a certain emotional distance, as if he were shooting a documentary about predatory wildlife. And just like the bear's attack, most of the violence in this film comes as a reaction of defense. Be it self-defense, defending one's offspring or defending territory and valuable resources. Even the character that comes closest to an actual villain is driven by fear - not hate, and his most obvious character defects were caused by a very traumatizing experience. As in nature, there is a simple (if often brutal) logic to why most characters, men or beasts, act the way they do in 'The Revenant' (OK, maybe not the French - but I didn't say the film was perfect). And the bear attack is the most realistic depiction of an animal attack I have ever seen on film.

All in all, this film feels less like a story of revenge and more like an ode to the visceral beauty of nature and the relentless, savage force that is life; it provides an immensely absorbing - and touching - experience to those who have an affinity for the wilderness, but it's also a visual masterpiece and a great piece of old-school filmmaking for lovers of Cinema. It's not perfect (especially during the last third of the film where I felt the pacing was a bit off), but it's a film the likes of which we will only rarely get to see - if at all - in the future. 'The Revenant' is visual poetry of the most primal kind, and it should be seen on the biggest screen possible. 9 stars out of 10 from me.

Favorite films: IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-Known Masterpieces: imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
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8/10
One of the Best Movies I'll never watch twice
mrblacktip9 January 2016
The Revenant falls into the same category as Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" and Spielberg's "Schindler's List" for me, in the essence of being a terrific movie but not something I think I can sit through a second time. In all these movies there are brutal sequences that cause emotional stress and disgust just watching because it is so REAL and GRIPPING. To think that events in these movies actually happened or that they could very well happen is too much for me to think about. Not to say that I did not enjoy this film thoroughly.

The Revenant is a technical masterpiece that left me wondering "How the hell did they do that?" after many scenes and sequences. With beautiful cinematography and adroit camera movement this film is a visual magnum opus. It is apparent that the great minds that put forth this film are none other than the same ones that brought us Birdman: Lubezki and Inarritu. There are many long shots without cuts that are sprinkled throughout the film that add a sense of sophistication to it with the added bonus of predominantly location based shooting and natural lighting for the film , that can even make a novice film watcher raise an eyebrow at its complexity.

The camera work is not the only noteworthy aspect of the film; The actors did a superb job executing their rolls. Many are raving about DiCaprio's performance but I was more of a fan of Hardy's brutal and gritty character Fitzgerald. Granted, half the words that came out of his mouth were unintelligible but he left no doubt in my mind that he was fully devoted to his role and bringing Fitzgerald alive instead of just Hardy playing a character named Fitzgerald. He was simply amazing.

With all this said, there are still flaws in the film. At some points it was dragging on and moving too slow. It gave the impression that the film itself was cocky and wanted to show off all of its beautiful scenery and camera work too much. Then there was the "he shouldn't be alive" situations. Hugh Glass was a real guy that really did survive a bear mauling but in the film they make this guy practically immortal. There were too many instances where I was thinking "he should be dead three times over right now, for me to enjoy the film as much I should have.

All in all a great film that I only recommend to seasoned and mature film viewers.
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3/10
Great photography, not so great film
mptaylor-5056416 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
You are almost immediately plunged into the action, in a similar way to the opening of 'Saving Private Ryan', with a Native American attack on a group of fur trappers. DiCaprio even does that momentarily deaf thing that Tom Hanks does. Lots of bows and arrows and gore and excellent photography that is really immersive. Great opening scene.

There there's the scene where DiCaprio is mauled by a grizzly bear. Again, really believable, exciting and up front and personal - you can almost smell the bear's stinking breath. Brilliant.

And then there's ... well ... not much really. Photography and scenery are by and large excellent but you do get the feeling that better use could have been made of them. Iñárritu often seems to chop scenes around for no particular reason, although you do get the occasional sense of the vast wilderness that comes over well on the big screen.

Dialogue is scarce. Most of it goes to Tom Hardy who tries to put on a Texan accent but succeeds in sounding as if he has a sock in his mouth (does he specialise in being inaudible? remember him as the mumbling Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises'?).

Then there's the storyline. You know the ending, right? (Just look up the definition of 'revenant'.) Leo is up against it and he suffers a great deal. But you know he is going to survive. So when, to top everything, he falls off a cliff on his horse you realise he's actually become Mr Indestructible. And two and a half hours of crawling, grimacing and wincing does not a very entertaining film make.

There are also several non-credible plot twists. Like when Tom Hardy (a.k.a. The Mumbler) somehow cracks an impressive-looking safe and makes off with the garrison money and just two guys go after him, including the garrison commander. This nicely sets up the final confrontation between Mr Indestructible and The Mumbler .... but really?

We also develop little or no emotional connection with the main character. The silent dream scenes are a clichéd way of trying to do this and they don't work in my opinion - they're just puzzling and boring. Nor do we see much of the relationship between Leo and his son to set up the emotional links between them - just Leo being harsh and dishing out tough love a couple of times.

The pacing is also poor. Once you've passed the opening scene and the grizzly scene, feel free to go and refresh your popcorn - you won't miss much.

Overall, the film is self-consciously bleak and overdetermined and is unevenly paced. A better director might possibly have made this a good film but Iñárritu is clearly not David Lean.

If DiCaprio gets an Oscar for this it will be because the Academy think they owe him one and possibly because of the hype. This is a film that will be forgotten. If you want to see a good silent movie with snow, ice, struggle for survival and even the odd grizzly bear thrown in, watch Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' - it's far more entertaining.
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7/10
Visually beautiful, story-wise not on par...
BoxOfficeKid25 January 2016
The natural landscape and some of the scenes are overwhelming and spectacular! The camera-work is so immersive, you believe are a part of Hugh Glass' journey through the wilderness and back to civilization. Also with great performances not only by DiCaprio, but also Hardy, as the unsympathetic fellow fur trapper leaving Glass behind.

Story-wise, it is a bit thin for a 156 min picture. Glass' quest for vengeance is sometimes lost as he utters few words about his drive and is being more or less, chased himself. The story arc of the Indians quest for their daughter felt a bit out of place and strange. We also get to see the fur trappers p.o.v. that left Glass behind and the Captain way ahead of them. Which in my opinion takes a little bit of the magic of Glass' total perilous journey.

All my stars goes to the beauty, production value and performances alone! Regardless, this is one of those overlong movies one like, but would not sit out for another viewing!
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A Powerfully Bleak & Masterful Film
CalRhys17 January 2016
Take the direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu, combine it with the stunning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki and toss in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy for their acting charms and what do you get? An extraordinary and masterful film.

Fresh off of 'Birdman,' Iñárritu moved straight on to 'The Revenant,' a western-epic inspired by the true-life experiences of frontiersman Hugh Glass in the winter-struck landscape of 1820s America. The film gained some notoriety in mid-2015 for its production problems and has thus been regarded one of the most challenging film shoots in the history of cinema. Rightfully so. The film opens with the soothing sound of running water, thrusting the audience into an almost meditative state, and then it strikes, an action-packed sequence ensues with a near single sweeping take. Now this is a spoiler-free review, so I'll leave the pleasure of viewing that scene to you.

This film heavily evokes reactions from the audience and does so well, whether it's staring at the screen in awe or gasping at the visceral violence, if you face this film with the right attitude and expectations, it will be a thrill ride like no other. Lubezki has proved that he is one of the most fantastic cinematographers of modern cinema, and the extensive use of natural lighting over artificial supports that statement even further, the film is beyond stunning. Supporting this is the score from the relatively unknown composers, believe me, when the sudden orchestral boom strikes your eardrums, it's mesmerising.

The makeup, the direction, the editing, the visual aesthetics, and of course the performances from a hopefully soon-to-be Oscar winning DiCaprio, 'The Revenant' is a visual treat for those who appreciate cinema and for those who wish to just get absorbed by the immense landscapes and poetic justice Iñárritu has given it. This is, for me, a modern masterpiece.
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3/10
A classic case of style over substance
martha-adam115 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
What an absolute waste of 2.5 hours.

It didn't look like it was going to be my type of film, but the trailer was very convincing, not to mention the plethora of award nominations it has received, so I decided to give it a go.

Mistake.

It started with a collection of superb actors, delivering solid performances. Despite what I've read, I thought Tom Hardy's accent was spot on - that is what that accent sounds like! Domhnall Gleeson is in everything these days, for good reason, and Will Poulter was certainly endearing. Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent, dragging oneself through the snow post-bear mauling should be pretty torturous, and as we know from Wolf of Wall Street's infamous 'Ludes' scene, DiCaprio is a pro at crawling and grunting.

A cast such as this should have delivered an outstanding movie, so I can only assume something went catastrophically wrong with the script. Because my God was it BORING.

There was absolutely zero character development. If you're going to produce something that is on the long side, at least give me something to work with here? The son was killed so early (and following so few lines) I genuinely didn't care, which didn't help to lay a foundation for why I should care about Glass's prolonged revenge mission.

As well as the characters being entirely 2D, they also quickly became parodies of themselves. "The Revenant Presents: Domhnall Gleeson as the Principled Yet Naive Captain (who must die as punishment for his ineptitude); Tom Hardy as the Southern Villain (with no redeeming features, who likewise must die to maintain the idea of a Just World); Will Poulter as the Impressionable Young Soldier-type and Leonardo DiCaprio as the Tortured Hero. Don't forget the Arrogant French Braggarts, and the Wise Yet Ruthless Indigenous People. Oh and Tom Hardy's Random Cockney Friend."

While I still think Hardy's accent was well executed, the choice to use an accent which is often a source of ridicule (I'm not endorsing that view) only served to undermine the tension rather than build it, making him seem like a fool rather than a dangerous adversary. Admittedly, he did a kill a number of people so maybe playing The Fool was his way of lulling everyone into a false sense of security.

DiCaprio was convincing in his role of the Aggrieved Father avenging the death of his son, but his journey of adversity quickly became absurd rather than laudable. The bear attack was BRUTAL, and as his company quickly concluded, it seems unlikely he would have survived his injuries, particularly when being carted around in the depth of winter.

But no, not only does he survive, he also survives Hardy's attempt to smother him, and being dragged into a partial burial, as well as witnessing the murder of his son (which would be enough to render any of us catatonic). OK, this might be plausible, maybe.

Then he wanders around for a bit, spurred on by the prospect of vengeance, before being nearly drowned in a river. Again, the trip down the rapids would have been enough to drown the average man, let alone someone who has just suffered a savage bear attack followed by an attempted smothering. But no, he comes to a gentle stop at the river bank and has a nap - mysteriously without succumbing to hypothermia.

Cue more wandering, some assistance from a kindly fellow wanderer, and yet more wandering.

As if three potential deaths weren't enough (four if you account for the bear effectively attacking him twice), he's then under attack by the very people who's daughter he's just rescued, and not only does he not get shot (despite these people having been shown to be frighteningly accurate), his horse RIDES HIM OFF A CLIFF and surprise, surprise - HE LIVES! In fact, he doesn't just survive it, he guts the dead horse and SLEEPS INSIDE IT. *Beats chest asserting manliness*

By the end I was desperate for one of them to just kill the other so I could go home. Tom Hardy finally met his maker - not before uttering the obligatory moral message that revenge doesn't make us feel better.

The Revenant is a classic case of style over substance. Fantastic actors, slipping effortlessly into a range of clichéd characters, stunning cinematography, and zero emotion. I'm a crier, I will cry at the majority of films and TV shows (and occasionally books), so the fact that I not only didn't cry, but felt absolutely nothing towards any of the characters, says it all.

It's clearly a polarising piece of work, I've seen many other reviews here that echo my sentiments, yet my boyfriend loved it, and the average rating is currently 8.3! Unfortunately, Award Land appears to be siding with my other half. This year's Oscar Best Picture category is a crowded race with several worthy contenders - but the Revenant is not one, and I really hope it doesn't win.

Does DiCaprio deserve the nomination? He was one of the better things in this film, and playing such a role must have pushed him to his physical limits, so maybe he does. Frankly, he's massively overdue one so for God's sake just give the man an Oscar and let's forget this absurd study in masculine pride ever existed.
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9/10
Harrowing storytelling with a gorgeous cinematic backdrop, The Revenant is not for the faint of heart but will stick with those who make the journey.
lnvicta29 February 2016
Since the first trailers of this movie came out I knew it would be an experience. Following the incredible Birdman, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu had the public anxiously awaiting his interpretation of this bleak survival story, and much like Birdman, Iñárritu is also the star of this film. The Revenant has some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen. It's cold, visceral, and almost entirely authentic from the use of natural lighting to the barebones yet powerful storytelling. You can tell Iñárritu poured his heart into this project and it pays off tremendously. This is not to discount the incredible performances of DiCaprio and Hardy (DiCaprio finally getting his well-overdue Oscar), but it's hard to imagine the movie being so impactful had another director been at the helm.

The story is as simple as it gets. In the 1800s, a group of settlers escape an ambush by an indigenous tribe, and during their travels one man gets separated from the group and gets brutally attacked by a wild bear and subsequently left for dead by his team. It's a revenge story more than anything. What it also highlights is human perseverance and the will to live. The things that happen to this man are truly horrific and difficult to watch. I'm not sure what parts of the story were embellished or Hollywoodized, but this film sucks you into this world and puts you right alongside this fatally wounded man desperate to survive. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a heart-wrenching performance as Hugh Glass, expressing a wide range of emotions despite the limited dialogue. Tom Hardy is also phenomenal as one of the most vile, wretched human beings on the planet. This guy is despicable to the core, and you forget you're watching Tom Hardy at times because he's completely absorbed in the role. The supporting cast is great as well despite their small time on screen. As far as performances and cinematography goes, The Revenant is flawless.

What prevents this from getting a perfect 10 is one particular storyline that I didn't think was needed, and it involves the wife of Hugh Glass. She's never developed as a character but she appears intermittently in visions and dreams and it almost sucks you out of the movie for a second because of how intense the main narrative is. But this is a very small gripe. From beginning to end this movie had me on the edge of my seat, my jaw on the floor and my eyes glued to the screen. The Revenant is definitely not for everyone, but it's impossible not to appreciate it for the breathtaking cinematic achievement that it is.
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10/10
Stunning
LiamCullen616 January 2016
Go and see this movie. In the cinema. As soon as possible.

Simply put, it is an excellent story of family, revenge, survival, and nature.

The Revenant is one of the most beautifully-shot films I have ever seen. I lost count of how many scenes I sat there in utter amazement, which is undoubtedly due to the brilliant directing and spectacular cinematography: there's no shaky-cam, no quick-cut editing, and a lot of incredibly complex shots which appear to have been completed in a single take. If all films were shot similarly to how the Revenant is, then the movie industry would drastically improve.

The entire cast did a phenomenal job and they all deserve recognition for their performances; however, if Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't win an Oscar for his breathtaking portrayal of Glass then that will be the single biggest injustice of the year.

Do not miss the opportunity to see this masterpiece on the big screen!

UPDATE: I've read an unnerving amount of other user's reviews complaining about the plot. I can understand that the plot may seem a little basic or perhaps lacking at times; however, the plot is not what makes this film so excellent, and I feel as though those who failed to recognise this have seriously missed out. You don't just watch the Revenant: you experience it. Every single element from the music to the cinematography is cleverly concocted to draw you into the film and put you alongside the cast in the brutal wintry conditions. If you've not been drawn in due to being too concerned with the premise of the story, then I fear you've missed a truly enthralling and one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.

UPDATE TWO: Leo won the Oscar!
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9/10
Almost un-bearable pain
bob-the-movie-man15 January 2016
I went to see "The Revenant" on the day that it was nominated for 12 Oscars, which certainly sets the expectation that it is going to be good – and it is. But I saw it described by DiCaprio as an "epic art-house western" and that's a good description. In the same way that Iñárritu's "Birdman" (this time last year) was unarguably a brilliant but not very mainstream film, so I think the Oscar buzz will attract a big audience to this movie who may find it a struggle to really enjoy. Because it is bleak… unremittingly bleak, in terms of the landscape, the weather and the motives of the characters. It is also extremely violent but, unlike "The Hateful Eight" (another film I saw this week that was unremittingly bleak) the violence is much more gritty, realistic and visceral making the drama a lot more compelling.

DiCaprio plays "Hugh Glass", an historical figure who was a legendary fur-trapper in the early 1800's and the central figure in this bear-related yarn. Although the story has been re-embroidered over the years, the 'facts' align with the film's basic story (there's a good "Daily Telegraph" article outlining this - see the link on bob-the-movie-man.com).

Attacked and pursuing by local natives, Glass's party is striking across woodland when he is viciously attacked by a 500lb Grizzly bear. Although appearing mortally wounded, he is a highly respected individual and so is stretchered up by his boss Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). Unable to proceed further, Henry pays for the mercenary John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) to stay with him, together with his half-Pawnee son Hawk and friend Bridger (Will Poulter), to die in peace. Predictably, Fitzgerald is not to be trusted, and Glass is abandoned in a shallow grave. If this is not enough, for other reasons we won't go into, Glass has even less inclination to keep his fellow trapper on his Christmas card list. Thus is set up a classic revenge movie, with Glass determined to stay alive to enact that revenge despite the enormous odds stacked against him.

This is surely DiCaprio's year for his elusive Oscar as he turns in a cripplingly painful performance. It is clear that the suffering on screen is not all acting – it cannot be, given the inhospitable conditions in which the crew were filming (in Canada and Argentina). As examples he had to eat raw bison liver as well as suffering a much discussed Han "I thought they smelled bad on the outside" Solo moment. Despite having very few lines to deliver, DiCaprio is on screen for 90% of the time, and it is a bravura performance.

Tom Hardy – also Oscar nominated – is also impressive as the villain of the piece, although for most of the time his lines might have well been delivered through his Bain mask for the sense they made. He is an inveterate mumbler.

Domhnall Gleeson's performance is also compelling, adding a degree of goodness and compassion to the film that was so missing from "The Hateful 8". (Gleeson is surely vying this year with Ben Whishaw for the busiest mainstream film appearances after this, "Ex Machina", "Brooklyn" and "Star Wars"). Finally Will Poulter gets a chance to shine in an A-grade mainstream dramatic movie and he well and truly makes that grade.

Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu has to be commended for eschewing the use of green screens, insisting on live performances and in natural light to boot. Stylistically (and indeed story-wise) the film has many parallels with "Gladiator", with its effective and artistically constructed dream sequences. But the film is not without special effects, and these are phenomenal, most incredibly delivered during the relentless and gruelling bear attack scene: a seamless blend of live animal work and effects that make it horrifically believable.

There is also some fantastic camera work (by Emmanuel Lubezki) of the "how the hell did they do that variety". Recalling his work in "Birdman" it's challenging to do single tracking shots of people walking through buildings. To do these same tracking shots during a pitched battle scene is just phenomenal. During one scene in this harrowing sequence at the film's start, the camera is on the ground filming a native galloping towards a victim, then the camera is seamlessly filming the rider as he gallops away. Astonishing.

The only area I really didn't care for was the music, by Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto. A combination of droning strings and (later) some whiny "Ligeti-style" elements, it was in turns intrusive, gloomy and annoying. Music should largely stay in the background to set the mood. This didn't.

Overall, this is a masterful film, but it is a slog and not a feel-good film to sit through. It also has significant violence which might not suit all viewers, with the final confrontation in particular being one of the most visceral fight scenes I've seen in years.

By the way (I had to look it up) the definition of "revenant" is:

noun

1. a person who returns

2. a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

Now you know too – this public service announcement brought to you by One Mann's Movies! (Please visit the graphical version of this review at http://bob-the-movie-man.com. Thanks.)
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8/10
Eyecandy
jndba16 January 2016
"The Revenant" is probably the most beautiful movie I have seen for a long time. This is not only due to the incredible locations, but also to the excellent (and by excellent I mean excellent) camera-work. Frequently I was just blown away by the sheer beauty of the rough terrain of Canada and how it was captured by the crew. However, there are a few drawbacks. Mainly the story (it is a very simple revenge story line) and the dialog (it is basically not existent :D).

When I first left the movie I was still blown away by all the great things I mentioned above (I was thinking about a 10/10 rating), but the longer I was outside the movie the more I recognized that "The Revenant" is a film that is incredible entertaining whilst sitting in the cinema, but also a movie I quickly forgot about when being at home again.

Still, the movie is definitely a must-see. Your money is well invested!
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3/10
Unbelievable and way overrated
glenmoreland18 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot believe how many people think this is a good movie....watching a guy struggle to survive for 2 hours ...come on people..I know there are not many good movies being made but my word....so many things are unbelievable...the bear attack, carrying a near dead guy out of the wilderness up a mountain...going over a cliff on a horse and not getting hurt...spending long periods of time in freezing cold water.....surviving extreme cold overnight inside a dead horse...my god the list is endless....and for Leo's so called acting don't get me started...a lot of crawling and moaning and groaning....the whole thing was a letdown and really a waste of time...also tell the director to back the camera up a bit on those facial close-ups...they were also ridiculous...trust me save your money and go see The Hateful Eight.
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1/10
Stunningly awful
ben-toth-111 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I was hoping for something a bit more interesting than Hollywood's standard approach to cowboys and indians, especially as the film seems to have been critically acclaimed and Leo is a great actor.

The quality of the camera-work is excellent and the bear mauling scene very accomplished if that is the right way to describe such a visceral few minutes. But oh the plot. If you try to take it seriously it fails utterly. As an Indiana Jones caper it lacks wit. Too often you say 'I know he'd be dead from hypothermia/blood loss etc etc in any possible world but I'll just keep watching in case something interesting happens'. You ride your horse over a 150 foot drop, fall into a tree, and survive. You travel downstream in an icy river in your fur coat and don't drown/freeze. You manage to light a fire even when you are 9/10ths dead, there are no branches and you're flint went a few scenes ago. What a relief when the baddie is finally left to his fate, but then you realise you've just wasted 2 hours of your life.
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1/10
Don't waste your time
phenz-9491615 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
What a waste of a night. Spoiler alert! Here is the whole movie in 30 seconds.

A guy almost dies, a guy walks, a guy builds a fire, the guy almost dies again, walks some more, goes for a swim, builds a fire, almost dies, goes for a swim again, builds a fire, makes it back safely, goes back out again, finds a fire, almost dies, makes someone else go for a swim. Looks into the camera deeply. The end.

Best supporting actor to the bear. My life would have been better had you finished the job.

I'm pretty sure this script was two pages long, and they turned it into a 2.5 hour movie. The closed captioning graphic artist had more words than any one else in the movie.
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1/10
Cold, colorless, dismal, stark, bleak, brutal, dispiriting & ultimately pointless.
epat17 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In real life, Hugh Glass was mauled by a grizzly & left for dead, but managed to drag himself back to a frontier outpost. The cinematic handling of the story in Revenant, however, is straight out of Cormac McCarthy: heavy-handed with funereal music & gray-scale tones throughout, creating an overall impression that the sun rarely ever shone in those mountains in those times. Just watching it becomes a test of endurance. Cold, colorless, dismal, stark, bleak, brutal, dispiriting & ultimately pointless. Perhaps that was how these men actually lived their lives? Maybe that's the point? If there is one?

At the end of the film, we're left not even knowing whether Glass, after exacting vengeance on the man who killed his son, lives or dies himself. Or perhaps that doesn't matter? Perhaps none of it matters? Ptui! Worst film I've watched since Deadman.
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6/10
Linear survival tale in which revenge becomes secondary
plpregent25 January 2016
I haven't seen all of Alejandro González Iñárritu's films. Those I have seen were excellent or at least very good: "Amores Perros", "21 Grams", "Babel" and "Birdman".

When I saw the trailer for "The Revenant", needless to say, I immediately thought it had tremendous potential and got pretty hyped up about it. It showed gorgeous, naturally-lit cinematography, dynamic directing, a historical depiction of the early 19th century savagery, and what seemed to be quite a visceral performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.

I thought that, with Iñárritu's name attached to it, this would be a much deeper film than what I ended up watching, at least in its depictions of history, first nations, and in its ability to exploit classic themes such as revenge and survival.

Without saying that "The Revenant" is an empty shell (although a gorgeous one), Iñárritu's film fails to impress when it comes to depth, thanks to a linear and predictable narrative structure, one dimensional characters, and a revenge plot that never manages to be compelling to the audience.

DiCaprio offers a demanding, physical performance with very little dialogue, but his character, always in survival mode, never reached me emotionally. All the agony grunting and wincing, enhanced by the costumes and make up sure make the character believable, but the script never allows the character to develop or to unfold anything that goes beyond an extremely narrow range of emotions. Very unfortunate.

Tom Hardy is okay as the antagonist, another character that suffers from his development being jilted by the writers. This is an unfortunate mistake to make in a revenge-themed film, where the antagonist is supposed to nourish the quest. In "The Revenant", the antagonist is barely a background character that will leave the audience almost emotionless and neutral.

The directing (Alejandro González Iñárritu) and cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) are the highlights here. Visually, "The Revenant" is flawless. The framing of the shots, the camera movements and the snowy, low-saturation imagery are all gorgeous. Some scenes are absolutely incredible to watch.

Editing-wise, Stephen Mirrione could have cut a few corners here and there. And this is coming from a movie enthusiast who sure appreciates a slow-paced film. Watching Hugh Glass walk through the endless forest was great, but you do see at least a dozen very-low angle shots of trees. They're just as beautiful as they're eerie, but slightly redundant at times.

Overall, "The Revenant" is not a bad film. It just isn't a great one either. It does have its moments. Definitely a case of style over substance, "The Revenant" disappoints both as a revenge tale and as a meditation on the savagery of both man and nature. Plot-wise, its flaws keep "The Revenant" in a linear survival tale in which revenge becomes secondary.

Too bad.
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7/10
The film summary says it all
lyndalfannigan29 September 2018
Majority of the film you'll watch Leonardo Di Caprio run through the wilderness. It has its appeal, but it does also get old. The scenes with Tom Hardy were long awaited but overall the film served its purpose...getting Di Caprio his long awaited Oscar.
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5/10
Wish it was as good as they say it is.
aquarius02179317 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I went into this movie with high expectations. I came out feeling like i'd just sat through a long funeral for someone I didn't know, on a hot and humid day.

*********MASSIVE SPOILERS******** I BASICALLY DESCRIBE THE WHOLE MOVIE IN DETAIL *********

The movie started out great with a little action scene and a little bit about the main character (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his son. After that, with very little else about the story or anything to tie viewers into it, DiCaprio is mauled by a bear because for some reason he's in the forest alone after just being raided and destroyed by some Indian tribe, who are looking for some random girl. (maybe i'm missing something but that's about all I took from the beginning of the movie)

So the rest of the "Americans" come and rescue DiCaprio from underneath the bear he just killed after it nearly mauled him to death, and for some reason he survives even though in reality he'd probably had lost enough blood at that point to kill three people. The rest of the middle of the movie is watching DiCaprio breathe heavily and crawl around the forest floor with some cinematic shots of snow, and listening to Tom Hardy attempt to cover up his terrible accent by speaking as low as possible. Oh and did I mention DiCaprio has an Indian kid? Yea so he has a kid, the kids mom and tribe was massacred by Americans or French or something like that, and DiCaprio is really close to the kid and vice versa. (Yes it's the predictable average story of revenge)

So Tom Hardy kills DiCaprio's kid because the kid doesn't want him to kill his father. Then they leave DiCaprio behind to die (BUT GUESS WHAT??? THE MAIN CHARACTER DIDN'T DIE! WOW! DIDN'T SEE THAT ONE COMING)

so he regains strength, gets some support from some random Indian dude who also lost his family, but to another tribe, and then some French dudes who have the girl the other tribe is looking for, find and kill the other Indian dude, but don't see DiCaprio apparently even though he was in a giant wood shelter with a fire going. DiCaprio becomes hero and saves the girl, kills some french dudes, and rides off to get his "revenge"

And you know what happens next?? HE GETS HIS REVENGE!@!!!@#!@ WOW WEE WHAT AN ADVENTURE

Movie ends with the Indian tribe who got their girl back finishing off Tom Hardy with a hatchet or knife, and they walk past Leo and leave him alone.

Seriously though, I don't understand the hype around this movie. It WAS Oscar bait, because 90% of the movie is Leo breathing heavy, acting as injured and in pain as possible crawling around grunting and moaning.

The only good thing about the movie was the cinematic shots and scenes, but nothing else. Insanely bland and generic story with a good setting.

I actually like most of DiCaprio's movies, and I think he should've had an Oscar a long time ago, but I don't feel it should be for this movie.
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1/10
Why is The Revenant a darned lousy movie? Let me count the ways
Michael Kenmore3 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
(As e-mailed to my few relatives, to impart the fair warning not to see this silly and execrable film.)

Just saw Revenant movie with open caption last night.

I bought a ticket to Kung Fu Panda 3 that plays at the same time as the movie. I may see it in hypocrisy to protest the idiot ["pendejo"] director's soap box politics. But at least I refused to pay FOR the movie directly, so they don't get my money, so there's that.

As for my opinion:

Terribly overrated. It's ridiculous, pretentious, inanely contrived (esp. protagonist's dead Indian wife), frequently dull and thematically & aesthetically anemic with one-dimensional characters especially the villains who hammed it up.

There is absolutely no point in this movie.

It is offensively politically didactic to the audience on race relations between Amerindians and whites, as if patronizing the audience by the director's self- important mockery, which felt overbearing with his overkill directorial style, like "Look at this, look at me, isn't this pretty, great job (cinematographer buddy) Chivo!"

Some shots are irritating with "in your face" close-ups. There is absolutely no tension throughout the movie because of over-directing that is so palpably annoying it kills the enjoyment with occasional dull pacing in paper-thin plot structure.

There are unintentionally laughable scenes that require suspension of disbelief like CGI animals (not just the mauling bear) and swimming in the icy-cold river wearing bear fur coat with no adverse hypothermia effect (frozen to popsicle afterwards in twenty degree temperature). It's like a nature action movie with lack of logic as seen from Hollywood perspective.

As for Leonardo's acting, it's really nothing to write home about. It's all method acting aided by the cold and chilly air that affect the actor to nearly and almost overact. I really didn't think his acting Oscar is due for this movie. It's a pity award.

The movie drags way too long. An hour could be cut and nothing would be lost. Pretentious filmmakers think length equals depth, but it's the opposite. They are very shallow in preconception, heavy on sensationalism (some scenes obviously pretentious as if the director is a show-off) and light on logic and reasonable pacing.

Inarritu is a total hack who pretends to be an intellectual when he is not, instead he mugs as if he's on par with Kubrick. Cinematography is the only thing that's good about the movie, but still an awfully pretentious movie with no point to comprehend.

I checked my watch more than a few times during the movie. It's how restless I felt. Gore doesn't phase me, but Inarritu's directing is the worst and most irritating factor about this movie.

George Miller is very calm, controlled and serenely self-assured in commanding direction in contrast to Inarritu's desperately provocative and bore-you-to-death pretentious approach to filmmaking.

That Miller lost best direction Oscar to this sentimental and lecturing hack Inarritu says a lot about the idiocy of Hollywood.

Don't bother because it's so long and indulgent with pretension that Leo's subtly Oscar-bait overreaching method acting cannot compensate for how lousy this movie is, in terms of demerits.

What a piece of crap.

* out of four
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5/10
A bit too much and a very unbelievable story.
jonas_bassforce3 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I honestly don't know what to think of this movie. It's good in a way and at the same time awful. To begin with, the idea to the story is interesting. It's set in the 19th century which makes the scenario more complicated than it would be today. But then there is this whole father/son scenario which really makes no sense and seems out of place. There is some back story to it that is scattered out through the film and I understand it's there to add some tension to the movie, but there is no build up to make you feel anything about it and in the end it seems boring and pointless.

It is well made though and most of the scenes seems very real and believable. I sometimes grasped the chair grinning cause I really felt the reality and pain in it. The bear attack for one stands out. The acting is very good and the actors do as much as they can with the script they're given, but as much as I believe Di Caprio deserves an Oscar, I really don't think this role was the one.

The plot could have been more interesting. It looks a bit like they tried to make another "Deliverance" but failed in character development and gravity of the story. Along the way I lost interest since everything seemed to be based around how everything in the wild hurts, and the main character is hurt a lot. Still he seems to survive anything that happens to him, sometimes in the most obscure ways. At the end I didn't really care whether or not he was going to make it back home, even less if he was going to be able to avenge his son, because nothing felt dangerous anymore. I was just hoping for the movie to end because it felt way too long. They could easily have made this an hour shorter which I think would have made it more exciting and less dragged out.

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

There were a number of things bothering me about this movie but what bothered me the most is that there is a huge lack of credibility throughout some parts of it, especially since it's supposed to be based on real events:

Mostly I was annoyed by the fact that he seems to take any chance he has to jump into the water and have a swim. Everyone who has been living in a place cold enough for it to snow during the winter knows that falling into ice-cold water when it's that cold outside, is equal to freezing to death if you don't manage to get out of your clothes and get warm somehow. Yet he barely seems to freeze at all. It's snowing and there are ice floes in the water for God's sake! In reality he would have been dead by the time he reached the riverbank, and certainly after his "nap". Seems like the movie makers forgot to do some research about hypothermia.

After the bear attack his foot is clearly broken and points in the wrong direction. Yet he manages to crawl off and swim down the rapids in ice-cold water only to be able to walk out of the river on his now miraculously healed foot.

The only problem to him surviving seems to be the injuries he suffered from the bear attack. I mean he even rides off a cliff and survives the fall only to miraculously survive yet another cold night of snow storms.

Why do they eat raw meat when they clearly have made a fire two steps away where they could cook it? It makes no sense.

All the lines delivered by the native Americans seemed out of sync for some reason, which is weird since todays technology in syncing picture and audio is quite developed.

All in all it's an interesting story but a bit boring and unbelievable way to tell it. I would have bought it if it was a fictional story, but this time it's based on real events. If you want to revel in pain, suffering and misery, and if you like to watch a movie about how hard it was back in the 19th century, please go ahead, but there are better ways to spend your money.
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1/10
What a waste of time to watch something so unreal!
aglebov7 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Unbelievable bad movie!

I mean come on, i watched Titanic, and the same guy dies of Hypotermia in 5 minutes of cold water!!!

***spoiler*** Now he not only sleeps on the snow while totally ruined and left to death after a bear attack, he crawls for miles, take swims in a river with snow and ice around, get outside, sleeps a bit more then make a fire from a spark, on the snow, then kill some, then fall off the cliff with a horse and then he shows that he knows how Han Solo saved Luke on planet Hoth from dying.

It could be such a good movie if bear killed him at the start. Or at least i wouldn't have wasted so much time watching it...
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1/10
The Emperor is well and truly naked
timmooreuk12 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Utter, utter, utter, utter, waste of 2.5 hours of my life. One of the most boring films I've seen. Unintelligible dialogue and no real story. Leonardo Di Caprio is a fine actor and should have been given an Oscar for Wolf of Wall Street instead of this tripe, where he hardly has to act. OK, the conditions were harsh, but not as harsh as having to sit in a cinema and watch this. Tom Hardy was mumbling, as ever, and seemed to be a baddie for the sake of it. After an hour I was looking round the cinema to see if anyone else was as bored as I was. Di Caprio's character, Glass, is mauled, constantly frozen and wet, starved, dehydrated, witnesses (in his delirium) his son being murdered and rides off a cliff and yet I didn't really sense the suffering. Bilge.
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5/10
Un rêve? Non!
Auntie_Inflammatory2 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I made the mistake of reading up on the life of the real Hugh Glass (the character portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio) before seeing the film. What I saw on-screen was a very distorted/Hollywoodized version of his story with lots of unnecessary racism thrown in (because, you know, Hollywood just can't pass up the chance to bash Whitey whenever possible). Inarritu takes a simple survival story and turns it into a violent, gory revenge story. Sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism abounds. So do clichés.

There is some speculation that the real Hugh Glass may have married a Pawnee Indian woman during a period (which ended a couple of years before the events depicted in the film) when he lived with the tribe. However, there is no surviving documentation, either public records or correspondence to/from Glass, that mentions a wife. In the film, Glass has a Pawnee wife who we see in flashbacks getting murdered by an evil, White soldier because, you know, White people are horrible and Hollywood wants you to know that.

The real Hugh Glass had no children. Movie-Glass has a half-Indian son who he coaches to act "invisible" because the (racist) White men they work with will only see his skin color. His son later gets murdered by an evil, White man because, you know, White people are awful and Hollywood wants to make sure you understand that.

Real-Glass never killed an army officer. Movie-Glass, it is revealed in flashbacks, once killed an evil, White lieutenant who was trying to murder his very young son because, you know, White people are just terrible and Hollywood will not let you forget that.

Real-Glass did not rescue a woman during his arduous journey back to the fort. Movie-Glass not only rescues an Indian woman but he rescues her while she's being raped by an evil, White, French guy because, you know, White people (no matter where they're from) are just horrid and Hollywood will remind you of that as often as possible.

Real-Glass was helped along on his odyssey by some friendly Sioux Indians, none of whom were killed by White people in the process. Movie-Glass is helped by one Indian who is later murdered by evil, White, Frenchmen because, you know, White people are reprehensible and in case you still weren't sure yet Hollywood will BLUDGEON YOU OVER THE HEAD WITH IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!

Fabricating a bunch of racist scenarios in order to move the story along and provide impetus for the main character is cheap and lazy screen-writing.

Real-Glass did not get any revenge on John Fitzgerald, other than getting his rifle back. Movie-Glass gets a very violent, bloody revenge. Real-Glass eventually let go of his anger and forgave Bridger and Fitzgerald. Movie-Glass has a weird quasi-redemption where he stops short of finishing Fitzgerald off but then sends him on to certain death at the hands of another. So, is that redemption, really?

The film goes way overboard depicting Glass as a super-man. I'm sure men were made of sturdier stuff back in the 1820s but when he and the horse hit that tree I just thought, "Oh, COME ON!!" The guy wasn't even fully recovered from getting mauled (and rolled on) by a 300-400 pound grizzly bear yet! And, no, he did not fall off a cliff in real life. Did I mention that the bear attack actually happened in August and Glass reached the fort in October? So, there was no crawling through snow or wading through icy water in freezing temperatures either. How would he not have hypothermia and/or frostbite after weeks of that?!

Movie-Glass occasionally has dreams where he hears his dead wife murmuring analogies about trees because nothing screams, "This movie is really, really deep!" like whispered dream-guidance from a dead Native-American.

Yes, there is lots of striking cinematography of beautiful scenery. Much has been made of the fact that Inarritu used only natural light and it does work well with the tone of the film.

The bear attack is both impressive and horrifying. If you know anything about how to react to a bear attack you will cringe in horror at Glass' stupidity. (Note to screenwriter: bears HIBERNATE in the Winter!)

The music is good.

I was surprised that DiCaprio won the Golden Globe and I'll be disappointed if he wins the Oscar. He gives a good performance in the film but I just don't think it's an Oscar-caliber role.

"The Revenant" is sensational but not in a good way.
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6/10
great effects and an awesome start but degenerates into a meaningless mess of Hollywood clichés
summerloud7 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I recently came across the story of Glass briefly when reading TC Boyles "The Harder They Come", and since this book increased my already big fondness for pioneer or realistic wild west settings, I was looking forward eagerly for a new big budget movie that promised to capture the pioneer era atmosphere in a grim survival story.

The movie starts out awesome enough, kicking off with a powerful Indians vs Pioneers battle scene that features incredibly long, action-packed shots. Unlike in the original story the movie is based on, Glass brings his half-Indian son along, creating some father/son moments and some tension with the other guys on his trek who are not that fond of savages. Shortly after, we are treated to the high point of the movie - the already famous bear scene, which is masterfully done, and painful to watch for its cruel realism.

Unfortunately, from there, it is all downhill.

The whole point of the original story, Fitzgerald and Bridger leaving Glass behind, gets watered down by the state Glass is pictured to be in - the way it is shown in the movie, it would have obviously been the only logical thing to do to leave him behind, with the Indians on the trek's tail and his chances of survival being nil.

Rather than creating a believable dilemma, the movie goes all over- the-top in Hollywood clichés. Instead of just leaving a maimed Glass behind for dead, Fitzgerald kills Glass'es son, turning a survival story into a revenge thriller. We are shown all kinds of bad aspects of Fitzgerald's character to turn him into "the bad guy" so we can root for Glass killing him at the end.

At the same time, the whole Indian side-story that was courageous enough to show Indians as ruthless attackers and not stick to the "noble savage" cliché gets watered down with an unbelievable silly twist when it is revealed that the Indians are just searching for the chieftain's kidnapped daughter, which we later find out was kidnapped by those pesky French, who do all kinds of badguy Indian killing stuff (as opposed to our noble pelt hunters, who are righteous decent human beings with the exception of the traitor Fitzgerald).

The actual survival story then gets completely out of hand, being so over-the-top as to remind me of action movies like Die Hard 2, that do not claim to be realistic and do not take themselves as serious as this movie. Glass, still in a state where he can only crawl, escapes the Indians by jumping into an ice-cold river, gets thrown down waterfalls, gets on a horse, falls down a cliff of around 100ft, etc etc etc. At this point, the survival story failed to grip me, since it was obviously based on comic book physics and -realism.

It gets even more ridiculous, when Glass manages to find the time on his survival ego trip to befriend a lone Indian (who is later killed by the evil, evil French, but not before healing Glass with some Indian sweat lodge magic), and even to rescue the Indian chieftain's daughter who was held prisoner as a rape object by the French, who again thankfully stepped in to fill in for the bad guys.

Despite all of this, the movie manages to stay pretty enjoyable (and never boring) until the ending, which was so horribly predictable that it made me cringe.

First Glass meets up with the rest of the trek, looking extremely healthy for what he's supposedly been through - DiCaprio could have at least lost some weight for this movie, or otherwise they could have used CGI to make him look thinner.

Fitzgerald escapes from the camp, stealing the money from the rest of the crew in the process (that baddie bad guy!). For some reason, even though they still have plenty of other men left, only Glass and the Captain set out as a group of two to hunt Fitzgerald down.

When the Captain then tells Glass some sentimental crap about his wife when they sit down at a fire at night, he might have just as well put on a red Star-Trek shirt, because it couldn't have been made any more obvious that he would be shot in the lead-up to the inevitable showdown between Glass and Fitzgerald.

Predictably enough, thats exactly what happens. To make matters worse, we are not only treated to the good old "both antagonists lose their weapons so it degenerates into a fist fight" cliché, but then, as the predictable fight, that tries to make up in cruelty what it lacks in innovation, inevitably ends with our hero Glass beating Fitzgerald and threatening to cut his throat, Fitzgerald tells him in a typical bad-guy way that killing him won't bring back his son, AND SO GLASS REFUSES TO KILL HIM. Are you kidding me? You just ruined the whole point of turning a survival story into a revenge trip, and lost the last bit of credibility the story had until now.

But of course we cannot let the bad guy get away, and so the actual killing is done by the Indians, who arrive just in time to finish Fitzgerald off and stare silently at Glass in a menacing silent Indian cliché thing. Since Glass saved his daughter's life, the Indian chieftain refrains from killing Glass, and instead rides off silently without acknowledging or helping the wounded Glass lying on the ground who saved his daughter's life. Makes sense.

The movie fades out with a shot of Glass staring into nothing. At least he didn't go after the chieftain's daughter to make some more Indian half-breed babies and live happily forever after.

6/10
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10/10
Leonardo DiCaprio said what needed to get said
lee_eisenberg13 January 2016
"The Revenant" marks a big turn for both star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Following up on his roles as maniacal tycoons in "Django Unchained" and "The Wolf of Wall Street", DiCaprio plays a fur trapper abandoned in the snowed-in wilderness. It's intense enough knowing that this was a true story, but how they film it makes it even more so. Like "Birdman", the movie contains several long shots filmed in a naturalistic style to create a sense of realism. Hugh Glass's determination to survive and find those who abandoned him provides one of the most harrowing stories ever put on screen. Covered in blood, sweat and dirt, DiCaprio spends much of the movie not talking, keeping the focus on his actions. And by actions, I mean that you rarely see something this intense on screen.

I'd say that the movie deserved its Golden Globe wins (but it repeatedly irritated me that the presenters kept mispronouncing Alejandro González Iñárritu's name). And while accepting his award, DiCaprio spoke up for the world's indigenous peoples and called on people to protect the environment from corporate interests. Indeed we should heed his call. In the meantime, definitely see "The Revenant". It's an experience like you can't imagine.
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9/10
Iñárritu's Revolutionary Re-interpretation of American Myth-Making
Kray_Kray9 January 2016
There have been two masterpieces in cinema this year. In Mad Max Fury Road, George Miller gifted us a dystopian deconstruction of the inevitable consequences of the will to own: a society both totalitarian and nihilistic, headed by an obscenely controlling monster commanding drug fueled Jihadis, regulating every resource from water to mother's milk. Misread in some places with a strictly "feminist" critique, exegesis of Miller's film can fly marxian or libertarian – it hardly matters as the solution to the chaos of dictatorship the director provided with Furiosa's victory was both egalitarianism and freedom.

In The Revenant, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu attempts something more subtle: with one stroke of his pen, by giving protagonist Hugh Glass a native wife and son, he weds an early icon of American Exceptionalism into a matrimony of Old World and New. It was not long after Glass's travails that ambitious frontier writers grew his legend, and by the end of the 19th century Glass had entered a pantheon of American folklore heroes from the wholly fictitious Paul Bunyon, to the richly documented Davy Crockett. The historical Glass fell somewhere between symbolic characters like Johnny Appleseed and fictionalized pioneer figures such as Daniel Boone. Glass's place among these icons ebbed and flowed with each new literary interpretation, but none has challenged his role as an early representation of the American cultural values based on Puritan work ethic, Calvinist Pre-Destination, and economic liberalism. By the time Thoreau poetically stamped naturalism on the emerging national character, the attributes of perseverance, "rugged individualism", and emotional solitude had solidified into the championing of an individual persona that collectively birthed the philosophies and policies of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny.

Wholly within a European tradition, neither Glass's experience nor iconography made room for a shared native American narrative. The value of communalism, spiritual communication with the natural world, and preservation of the environment were never compatible with the mission to homogenize and control that environment with ever increasing technological advancements. Native lifestyles and beliefs, in particular the unwillingness to entertain the notion that land could ever be privately owned, doomed any hope for a co-existence of equals. But in the Revenant, Iñárritu suggests that Glass's almost super human fortitude and survival skills were sourced not just from the core early American cultural value of self-sufficiency, but from the First Nationer acceptance of nature as a reverential if temperamental partner; a mate not to be dominated and contained, but to be respected and cajoled into compatibility. In the face of the arbitrary brutality of nature, it is not Glass's master of technology that saves him, it is his native-like learned connection to the spirit world and his understanding of the natural world that restore and guide him. Glass is a man with a foot planted firmly in both worlds, but it is his chosen one that is both sacrificed in the person of his son Hawk, and transcended in the visions of his dead wife and son. On his recovery and "revenge" mission, his sustenance is derived from animism; his survival from a native conciliation with the harsh environment.

I believe in The Revenant the film-maker wants his audience to extrapolate the sources and resources of Glass's survival and consider the role that native peoples had in the formation and growth of a nation, to ponder and accept the importance that native people's beliefs and practices had and still have in creating a harmonious balance between a natural world that is and will always be capable of demolishing the best plans and inventions of men, and the harnessing of that world in the name of advancement. Iñárritu's revision of the Glass story is not a mere plot device; it is a radical epistemological one that poses timeless questions. I do feel the wonderful performances, majestic cinematography, and riveting action in The Revenant are all subordinate to what the director would like us to entertain about the survival and "revenge" of Hugh Glass.
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