Monday, February 15, 2016

The Revenant

By Sati. Monday, February 15, 2016 , , , , , ,
A tree. A cloud. A tree. A cloud. Leo DiCaprio moaning.
Tree.
A cloud.
Leo moaning in the distance

This is basically 1/3 of The Revenant. The other 2/3 consists of DiCaprio crawling around in a video gamey kind of way (Leo found fur! Leo found a dead bison! Leo found a friendly native! Leo found  a cave! Cauterize a wound + 10exp. Eat some grass + 5exp. Crawl inside a dead horse + 1000exp), shoehorned plot about missing native girl and Hardy scenes which unlike the above actually have some energy to them.
And lots and lots of trees.

All these talented people involved in this film act like they have had suffered a blow to the head and forgot their craft. Inarittu always made interesting, well made movies (except for Biutiful which was loaded with pretentious imagery but, fuck me, was it nowhere near the levels of pretentious Inarittu reached in The Revenant) - with this one it is like he forgot there is such a thing as editing. I mean you could have easily take out a whole bunch of shots of trees and rivers or people just walking around (it's like The Hobbit sometimes, I'm serious) and the film would be so much better. Lubezki is another person who straight up embarrasses himself with shots of breath on the lenses, used as often as possible. A cheap gimmick that takes you right out of the movie, if DiCaprio's laughable moans haven't done so already. They are all just showing off.

Then we have the writing. The writer makes the common mistake of assuming that just because bad shit happened to Glass we will automatically find his quest for revenge interesting. No, not really. In fact who cares? Instead of establishing his connections with the wife and the son we got ridiculous slow mo shots of them standing around, staring - either at each other or, yes, you guessed it, the trees, which are apparently super crucial. I don't care this guy's wife is dead. I don't care that his son was killed. I cared far more about poor motherless bear cubs.

Ah yes, the bear attack. While the bear attack is horrific and every time the bear comes back for more you just want it to be over, it is not overtly long or bloody. It is however impressively done - the bear is CGI, so realistic that people responsible for its creation called it Judy. So let's emphasize that - the bear was not actually there. Yet DiCaprio's acting made the attack feel so convincing - he shows such pain, hurt and desperation, never mind the physical challenge of imitating something like that happening.When it comes to the craft DiCaprio gives it his all but his character is so poorly written the entire time you just think of DiCaprio acting, not the character suffering. Bridger's flask has more personality than Hugh Glass does.
Will Poulter is excellent as young Bridger, who is shell shocked after what happened but at the same time afraid of Fitzgerald. Domhnall Gleeson is very subtle but tremendously effective as what feels like Glass' only ally. It's about 100th performance Gleeson gave in 2015 and it is definitely my favorite one. It's worth noting both those characters and performances are much better than Glass and Leo.

Meanwhile, Hardy steals the show. I've seen some people complaining how his accent is difficult to understand, how he mumbles and how he hams it up. I am either gifted with super hearing or I simply listen to Hardy with my heart because I understood every word. Hardy plays a character that has been driven half mad by his circumstances and upbringing and he does so with such an energy that had it not been for his scenes this film would be close to being unwatchable.
This is the role that suited him very well. He has this air of danger around him and this spark in the eye that makes it impossible to predict what he does in the next moment. It also helps that he always looks physically imposing and whenever his character fights someone, well, there isn't much of a fight. Whenever he has a gun on someone you never know if he shoots, in fact it's actually surprising when he doesn't. What I also adored about this performance is that Hardy didn't play it completely straight - in fact he added lots of humor here and that reminded me of his hugely entertaining work in Peaky Blinders. Hardy is given several scenes where his character tells insane stories and it's such a great counterweight to all those scenes with Glass that are basically silent and you kinda feel like looking at anemic dog shit during those.

Hardy's best scene is when he removes his bandanna and we see his partially scalped head and as he sits and talks of that happening, his blazing eyes fixed on one point madly and then he turns to Bridger and tells him to stop scratching the flask (the sound reminds him of knife on his scalp) is one of my favorite scenes Hardy has ever done. He is magnificent. But he ain't Del Toro in Sicario.
What I really liked and what genuinely surprised me was the ambiguity in the film. I was under impression that Fitzgerald will just start killing Glass but they had this whole 'blink if you want me to kill you' conversation. It was a sadistic conversation for Fitzgerald to even start and I have no doubt that Glass's blink was due to exhaustion but he indeed blinked. It's no wonder that half-mad, obsessed and paranoid Fitzgerald thought he did nothing wrong.

The level of ambiguity poured into Fitzgerald is so impressive because everything else in this script is either half-assed or just dumb. The stupidity begins with the captain not killing Glass once he determined Glass won't make it and leaving him with the guy who was so against him, it then follows through with natives ex machina which is just one tribe of natives that shows up whenever the plot requires them to (when they popped up in the ending I just laughed) and finally it has some of the most black and white antagonists and protagonists in recent memory - the Canadians who should just sue and Glass who is just an angel personified - and it culminates with the entire fort sitting on their asses while the commander and the guy who just crawled back through the forest go after Fitzgerald alone. What is this shit?
And what was with that dream about church in ruins? I swear to God the amount of retarded, pretentious imagery in this movie that serves absolutely nothing but only making it more boring is just startling. There is some Christ imagery thrown in too because 1. why the fuck not 2. I suppose they featured it on account that Leo looks like Mel Gibson's Jesus at certain points in this movie. I would have gladly watched The Passion of The Christ several times in the row instead of this one just once.

Oh my God. And when that native built Leo a fucking luxurious spa/sweat lodge in the middle of nowhere DURING BLIZZARD I almost pissed myself laughing.
I think Inarittu, DiCaprio and the writers massively trolled people. They must have known that what they are putting in this movie is so awful and it's all a clear vehicle for Leo to finally got that Oscar. I imagine they are laughing so hard when they read the interpretations about how deep that movie is, how well it shows how oppressed Native Americans were, what a beautiful love Glass has for his son. I cannot believe how much people manage to project onto that movie. None of it is there.

Look I suppose we should admire these people for devoting 9 months of their lives to shoot this....thing. I mean poor DiCaprio, right? A vegetarian and he had to eat bison liver. Jesus, how awful. I'm sure that he is still traumatized about it and all those parties and money and supermodels are not helping. Oh poor crew. So cold. No wi-fi. And Inarittu! Bravely ducking all those (alleged) dick punches from Hardy. Man, if only they were on that set because they chose to and were paid to...which is exactly what happened.
There are good things here - the score, even though way too calm which only adds to slow pace. The performances. The individual set pieces like the opening attack sequence or the insanely brutal final confrontation. There are bits and pieces here that are brilliant but they are stitched together more clumsily than Glass's wounds.

Let me be very clear here - the trailer is so much better than the actual movie. I am not sure if getting hit in the face repeatedly is not better than this movie, considering that my ass and head actually still hurt after 3h of sitting and listening to DiCaprio's growling his way to that Oscar.

Imagine the crawl on the stairs scene from The Wolf of Wall Street except not awesome, not funny, not instantly iconic and set in a forest with a bunch of fucking trees around. That's The Revenant.

(The Revenant, 2015, 156 min)
Plot: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay), Michael Punke (based in part on the novel by)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter

28 comments:

  1. You were less kind in your review than I was, but I completely agree with everything you have here. What a bore. And on the subject of writing...what the hell...I didn't care about Glass nor his revenge. And that fight scene in the end? Couldn't have cared less. Trees on trees on trees and then some!!

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    1. The fight scene was well done but damn, did I not care about the revenge not was the whole point of 'let it go, let it go' well shown

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  2. I couldn't agree with this review more. I was really disappointed by The Revenant. Nothing about it was interesting, and while the cast tried their best to get something good out of the film, Inarritu just kept on coming back with all those shots of trees. For me, it's definitely his weakest film to date. Still, I liked Lubezki's work, and the score was nice. But really... *this* is the Best Picture frontrunner? This is the movie Leo will win his Oscar for? It's truly a shame.

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    1. I hated Biutiful a bit more than this, but I still cannot believe it even has a shot of winning over Big Short or Spotlight which were both excellent and about something

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  3. Wow, I'm shocked you didn't like it more. I do agree with Lubezki's use of gimmicks. That's why I still stick with the fact that Deakins should be winning for Sicario, he didn't need to rely on those. I think Leo is great, I didn't find Fitzgerald as ambiguous as you did. He was just an asshole, though a marvelously played asshole by Tom Hardy. I like that you praised Poulter too. He was great.

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    1. Yeah I cannot believe I am saying that but Deakins work in Sicario was so much more mature and better than Lubezki's here.

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  4. I also couldn't agree more sati. I didn't wanna say anything cos you were looking forward to it, but yep, you nailed exactly what I thought. Hardy was easily the best thing about the movie, Leo overacts constantly, and that token Indian's missing daughter subplot - I think that was to give dumb people a reason for them to be in the film at all.

    "I imagine they are laughing so hard when they read the interpretations about how deep that movie is, how well it shows how oppressed Native Americans were, what a beautiful love Glass has for his son."

    Laughing straight towards an Oscar. And you are spot on, people are seeing shit that IS NOT THERE.

    Great write up. I loved the intro. 100xp!!

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    1. The film would be so much better without that missing girl subplot. It would be OK for straight up revenge movie but they had to bog it down with all those ridiculous scenes and all those in their mind profound flashbacks

      Thanks so much!

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  5. and your summary of it overall had me chuckling:

    "Imagine the crawl on the stairs scene from The Wolf of Wall Street except not awesome, not funny, not instantly iconic and set in a forest with a bunch of fucking trees around. That's The Revenant."

    Oh god, amen a thousand times. I need to re-watch Wolf now cos simply thinking about that scene has me smiling like a shithead

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    1. Wolf is such a masterful movies, one of the best ones in the history really. I could rewatch it every single day

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  6. this was highly entertaining, great review! I did see a lot more than there was to it, I admit. and I loved the scenery-shots! but if leo gets an oscar for this, it really shames all his previous roles.

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    1. Thank you! It's a shame he didn't win one for Aviator

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  7. Wow, I love and totally respect your honesty! :)

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  8. Best intro to a review ever! I think I enjoyed The Revenant more than you did, but I can't argue with anything you've said here. I think I actually appreciated it more than actually enjoyed it, and it's certainly a movie I'll never want to see again!
    - Allie

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    1. I may see Hardy's scenes again some time, but never sit through that again :/

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  9. I see now...;d ;D;d

    This review is probably more entertaining and profound than the movie itself. At least Leo is getting an Oscar for it after not getting it so many times.

    I will download it, but only because I have the fast-forward button.

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    1. Yeah at least DiCaprio is not stealing anyone's Oscar, but it's a shame this is the one he is winning for

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  10. The TREEEEEEEEES!

    While I'm still shocked you didn't like this film, I'm glad you dug Hardy playing that vicious mofo, Fitzgerald. We will endlessly disagree about this character, but that doesn't mean I don't respect your opinion on him.

    You know, I was okay with all the nature shots/shit, because it felt like the main villain of the film was that wicked bitch herself, ol' Mother Nature. Maybe we didn't need twenty minutes of menacing trees, but I was cool with it either way.

    Where I do ENTIRELY agree with you, is the inclusion of the Native American tribe and their quest for that dude's daughter. I guess I see the parallels to Glass, sure, but holy shit do those f--kers show up ALL THE TIME. And their response at the end was ridiculous.

    Still, STILL...I thought it was a f--king great movie. Loved it.

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    1. Honestly it was like The Happening 2.0

      I just couldn't with that entire subplot. Can't believe they actually included this in the movie

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  11. Ha ha, I love your review Sati. I think I enjoyed it more than you did, but it was not my favorite film of the year. It was on my best list, but no where near #1...for all the problems you mentioned. Hardy and DiCaprio did incredible work in this film. That saved the film for me. But you are so right Hardy is good, but no one was as good as Del Toro in 'Sicario' last year. Hands down his performance was my absolute favorite for 2015. I still can't believe Del Toro was not nominated for best supporting. Yet Eddie Redmayne gets another best acting nod! What is this madness?

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    1. It's ridiculous. Del Toro and Blunt should both be nominated

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  12. Ouch! Fair enough, Sati. Some haven't taken to this at all. I loved the ambiguity of it all and didn't take it in a linear fashion. I took it to be an allegory and symbolic for man's disharmony with nature overall. That said, I totally agree with your praise of Hardy. I thought he was fantastic and acted Leo off the screen.

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    1. Absolutely, it's a shame it's DiCaprio most critics and awards people are focusing on but it seems that general public does prefer Hardy's performance

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  13. I thought it was a good movie, but nothing Oscar worthy.

    Your review, however is outstanding. Nice work Sati.

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  14. Haha, I love this review! Admittedly, I liked the film a lot more than you did, but I don't think it deserves to win Best Picture. I'll be happy to see Leo win, though, and I fell victim to Lubezki's gimmicks. :/

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