by Caleb Hartung
If you have any love for the cinema, go to the Clifton 5 and see “The Revenant” immediately.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this adaptation of a story about a frontiersman left for dead is a gritty and visually stunning masterpiece. Even if you are not a complete movie nerd, I would still recommend it as it is easily one of the most powerful films that have been recently released (and yes, that includes the new “Star Wars”).
There are a few factors I would caution against. When taken at face value, some of the trailers portray this movie in a way that is almost like “Lone Survivor” in an 1800’s setting (dramatic action scenes with a survival element).
While there are a number of fight scenes, this is certainly not a Michael Bay-esque action spectacle. Those that saw the trailers advertising these scenes may be disappointed to realize that they are far from the main focus of the movie. The suspense certainly plays a key role, but it could be easy for some to get bored after the third time DiCaprio eats something raw in a near-white wilderness.
Speaking of “raw,” that word sums up this movie quite nicely. That being said, if you are squeamish about seeing blood on the screen, this movie might not be for you. Without giving away any major spoilers, let’s just say I thought horses smelled bad… on the outside.
Even as a fan of Tarantino’s bloody style, there were more than a few moments where I caught myself cringing. That is not to say that the grittiness detracts from the film—if anything, it is a focal point to the brutal atmosphere that the film projects.
For every time I cringed, there were easily twice as many moments when I was awe-struck at the scenery. Within the first few minutes I was mesmerized by a rippling brook, and each scenic shot afterwards managed to capture the landscapes beauty while instilling a sense of foreboding. It really cannot be understated how gorgeous the cinematography is. There is one brief scene that could produce museum-worthy stills, which evokes a comparison between a ruined church wall and primitive cave paintings.
The director, Alejandro Iñárritu, manages to speak volumes while keeping the dialogue at a minimum. The only time a line outshined the scenery was when Tom Hardy’s character regaled an equally funny and thought-provoking tale about a squirrel.
For every movie that I watch, I try to ask myself “what is this film trying to accomplish?” The answer this time is quite simple: it’s Oscar bait. It is certainly and enjoyable and memorable experience, but it’s only crafted that way to receive awards (though clearly not shooting for Best Lead Actor…sorry, DiCaprio).
Iñárritu had apparently said that his film “deserves to be viewed in a temple,” which shows the attitude with which this film was created. If nothing else, then he can at least receive the fictional Most Pretentious Award from me. Congratulations. In all fairness, this is an excellent movie, and I am sure there will be more than a few well-earned nominations coming its way.
On second thought, and though I joked about it, it would be hilarious if DiCaprio finally landed an Oscar with this film. While I cannot say that he outperformed his previous roles, he certainly deserves a nomination. I just hope he receives one because he plays a man left out in the cold and then goes through a long, arduous struggle to accomplish his final goal. If that is not the perfect metaphor for his career, I’m not sure what is.
In summary, this film is utterly fantastic whether you are an avid movie-goer or not. It is powerfully moving, puts your “first world problems” into perspective and is so rugged that it would bring a manly tear to Ron Swanson’s eye.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 6 A&E