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The Revenant – Joint Review

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 8 January 2016 [USA]
 
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
 
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu - Mark L. Smith [Screenplay] - Michael Punke [Novel]
 
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio - Tom Hardy - Will Poulter
 


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Posted January 12, 2016 by

 
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The Revenant – Joint Review

Alston’s Perspective:

When news hit the internet streets about Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s next movie being filmed in the rocky mountains of Canada, Argentina and the US rather than using green screens and lighting tools in a studio house, people were more than curious. With its teaser release, it did not reveal much but a few glimpses of a beautiful yet tragic world, leaving people breathing slightly heavier than the hairy DiCaprio who panted through it.

Based partially on true events from America’s history and the book “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge”, it revolves around the famous Hugh Glass, played by Oscar Nominated star Leonardo DiCaprio who is left for dead by his companions after being mauled by a grizzly bear. He travels through the depths of the fiendish wildlife to get back to civilization and rid himself of all the misery they caused him.

NOTE: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

Iñárritu’s love for long single camera shots which were also previously seen in ‘Birdman’ have found its way into this movie combined with a perfect amount of grittiness and suspense. It’s quite clear the whole point of it is to display how intense the survival game is, from the silence of hunting and getting your insides slashed by a bear, to watching natives create havoc and discomfort around quiet camping tents. Although not heavily used, it creates a sense of austerity and fierceness simultaneously. Such a movie that centers itself around the wildlife and the history of a mountain man, it delivers never before seen mystical sceneries and landscape shots which were not tampered by a computer, leaving you in a fantastic trance of sorts. Imagery and depiction of characters which are delved into so wildly, has more than an animalistic effect on you at times. Almost every scene can hold your breath and attention for 10 minutes intently, leaving you crouching deep into your seat with relief once a peaceful shot tones things down for a while.

With the expectancy of DiCaprio to win an Oscar this time around, it surely wouldn’t be deserving. To play a character such as Glass, he had to to surpass challenges that were posed more from a physical standpoint, which puts to rest his acting skills massively. All this Oscar talk overshadows Tom Hardy, the real master of acting who displays a higher level of acting artistry as Fitzgerald, the movie’s main antagonist supposedly. His piercing stares and prattle talks which include death leave you staring at the screen, awkwardly processing what he just said. If you are an unbiased movie goer (which I’m not of course) and who has watched all his movies you are sure to notice how his choice in character roles vary from one another. From playing a shy bar tender, to the most notorious thief in town, there’s no doubt you’re going to believe this man can pull off anything. It’s important to remember that the movie takes place in the 1800s in the wilderness. On such a savage platform, any man is sure to have watched his humanity die with his integrity after experiencing the worst from life. The concept of morals does not exist which gives firm reasoning grounds for Fitzgerald’s role in the movie.

But we are reminded of the difference between and right and wrong through all of this thanks to the supporting cast members. Knowing where they come from and their movie backgrounds, it’s rather difficult to accept fairly well known actors such as Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) take on such iconic figures, but that would be a prejudiced topic to get into and write in a review. They passed through the movie without gaining much attention, leaving them on the level as the cast assisting the supporting cast. The french troops and native people Glass encounters for a short while seemed to have made more of an impression. Let’s not forget the outstanding performances of the CGI bear and the chief native and his companions who horribly lip synced a native language on screen.

The art of a bloody showdown between men is at its best. As much as the climax is satisfying, it feels a little in tune with the rest of the events that lead up to it. It is an apt ending and does justice to the

movie title, and yet it felt a little flat. Amongst all the horrific madness and transcendental feel you get

movie title, and yet it felt a little flat. Amongst all the horrific madness and transcendental feel you get experiencing this movie, it manages to allow you to find some space amongst your feelings for sentiment and the idea of love along with the tragedy that is felt with the loss of loved ones by the hands of friends and not enemies. Around this bestial atmosphere, the power of love and revenge is what drives Glass to endure the torturous journey back home.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu has managed to create a heavenly world for its devilish inhabitants which keeps you engaged and circling your emotions plate constantly. With true fine craftsmanship in filmmaking along with a fantastic script and Birdman’s cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s fabulous work, this is a delightful spectacle of a movie which isn’t for the faint hearted, mostly. Even thought at times, certain scenes have a soporific effect on you if you are catching a late night show, the movie does the exact opposite in compensation during the rest of it all. Watch out vegetarians, it’s quite a mouthful, and in this case you might not want to swallow.

The Revenant” is out in theaters this weekend from the 7th of January in the Middle East so make sure you catch it!

Written by:

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Alston Rodrigues
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Michael’s Perspective:

Reeling from a Native ambush, Hugh Glass and his fur trapping party trek back to Fort Kiowa. On route, Glass is attacked and mauled by a grizzly bear. Though he manages to kill the beast, he teeters on the edge of death. Those of the expedition tasked with caring for Glass prefer to finish him off quick. While trying to protect his father, Glass’ son is killed by his treacherous companion Fitzgerald. Glass is left alone, without supplies and horrendously injured, forced to crawl and limp his way back to civilisation. To avenge his son’s death is what drives him.

This is an astounding looking picture. Iñárritu made it clear that he did not want green screen used nor his cast and crew to be happy lest his film “be a piece of shit.” Whether it be rushing rivers, torch-lit woods or frozen mountainsides you see, everything has a darkened, earth-rooted appearance (thanks to the use of natural lighting only). Very few films look as good as this.

Few films move in the same way too. The opening ambush at one point plays like a murderous game of tag, with the camera focusing on one person until they are killed, only to attach itself to the killer (until they are killed, and so on.) The camera dashes and sneaks and crawls like a warzone photographer.

If any scene bears mentioning, it’s the grizzly attack. You will yelp and flinch and clutch at your limbs as if you were mentally bound to Glass. Horrific, yet you cannot look away from the cinematic marvel it is.

The performances all around are undoubtable for the suffering was the real thing too. Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter as Captain Henry and a young Jim Bridger are terrific. Their support is for Tom Hardy’s selfish and treacherous Fitzgerald. Half scalped and spewing a southern drawl that is at times unintelligible, Fitzgerald is a villain to be remembered. He will rob, lie and kill, all to ensure he lives another day.

Then we have Leonardo DiCaprio. This could be it for him, his winner. Rather, this should be it. His performance here is markedly different to his other nominated performances. There are very few lines. This performance is a physical and primal one. The emotion is conveyed through the legs and shoulders and hands and eyes. Glass saw Fitzgerald kill his son yet was unable to speak. He carves his accusation into rocks and snow. After the bear attack, Glass is unable to walk, talk, unable to even drink. With each advancement, from crawling to limping to walking then striding, comes the feeling of immense accomplishment. Here is a man who you will want ever so much to stay alive.

The Revenant is a picture that begs to be seen and in the most appreciative of ways, in the dark of the cinema where the immersion is greatest. It is an exhausting and traumatic ordeal, a visceral bout of escapism that must be seen to be believed.

Written by:

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Michael Keyes
Silences Band
@mkjk1990
Full Contributor

 

Sedef’s Perspective:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s newest film is without doubt one of the most expected and talked about films of 2016. And with 12 Oscar nominations under its belt already we can all be pretty sure that Inarritu will come away from this year’s awards ceremony quite happy too – and who knows, fans may finally be able to celebrate an Oscar win for Leonardo di Caprio.

And yet the film has had mixed reviews so far. Some (including my fellow critics on this page ) call it a triumph while others call it an unnecessary exercise in torture porn. Going in, it needs to be said, the film is not for the faint of heart. And while there are some truly striking moments in the film on many different levels, one cannot help but wonder if these moments would not have found a larger audience if the violence that is meant to set them off didn’t, in places, end up engulfing them…

Based on partly true events, The Revenant is the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo di Caprio), a frontiersman who is acting as a guide to a fur trading expedition in the 1820s. Mauled by a bear and ultimately left for dead in the forest, Glass must now battle the elements and his ailments back to civilisation. It is not merely a matter of survival… Betrayed by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy)and facing immense personal tragedy there is one single thing driving Glass on… The desire for revenge…

The technical brilliance of the film is beyond dispute. Inarritus beloved long single camera shots that were the backbone of Birdman feature here as well – but in a completely different context. It is less of an exploration and more a tool to explore the bewilderment of the battlefield when the men are ambushed by Native Americans at the beginning of the film. The camera roams, seemingly confused between this group and that, Di Caprio and Hardy flitting in and out of the frame as the camera continues trying to figure out what exactly is happening, much like the surprised men. But having been used to great effect in group scenes, the tool makes its exit.

The other thing the film uses is contrasts. There are multiple moments where the camera just stops to admire nature. We just admire the majesty and beauty of nature in silence. And in the middle of this majestic setting we have some of the ugliest sides of human nature: Fitzgerald who holds nothing sacred in his quest for personal gain, Glass, whose love for his family is transformed through his hardship into a single-minded quest for revenge. And of course there are the physical horrors – Glasses injuries and the absolutely horrific things he has to suffer before he makes it to safety or The brutal and unthinking violence of men attacking each other and the absolutely merciless bloodshed. All these horrors would have been a very powerful cinematic tool to offset some of the truly powerful moments in the film and then, like the single camera shot, made its exit when the time was right. The problem is, they never quite get around to leaving.

This is a shame, not least because there are some very powerful moments in the film that will definitely stick with the viewers. (Spoiler alert) principal among them is the first moment Glass walks into the torchlight of the hunting party, after he has returned from the grave. Or perhaps the looks the men give each other as he walks through the camp a little later. The trap Glass lays for Fitzgerald is utterly brilliant and the finale is emotional and if it is a little old fashioned it is also fitting. As for Glasses dream sequences, I am sure not everyone will like them but I found them admirable. The reason all these moments don’t take centre stage in reviews is the unrelenting violence that ties these moments together. It forms such a gory, unrelenting battery that it ends up swallowing a lot of the good, strong and beautiful things in the film and taking centre stage. If they were meant to provide some form of contrast with the more emotional moments in the film, it fails to be the equal partner it needs to be.

Of course the other side to the discussion is that this may well be a realistic depiction of what the Wild West was like. It was a notoriously brutal and lawless time and place and if we are trying to paint a realistic picture, this may well hit the mark. At the end of the day, The Revenant is an update on a rather old fashioned genre – the western. And to like The Revenant, you need to accept some things the genre comes with, like the place of women and how present they are in their absence. On the one hand it seems downright sexist in our enlightened 21st century, but on the other hand in all honesty I doubt there were many women going on fur trapping expeditions in the early 19th Century…

In short, what we have here is a very strong film that gets slightly lost in an excess of bloodshed. If you are able to see past the blood and guts, there is an admirable film there. But it may be the films Achilles heel that this takes some doing…

Written by:

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Sedef Hekimgil
@Essie_Tweets
Essie Speaks
Full Contributor

 

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