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The Revenant: Starting a Long Trek
By Alex Carrigan
*Editor's Note: This article is part of a series written by Alex Carrigan about this year's Academy Award nominated films. To see the rules for this challenge and to find other articles related to it, go to this page.
In a way, I find it interesting that The Revenant was the first film I had to watch in this series. Aside from there being a 1:7 chance of being the first film rolled, this was probably the film I was most unsure about watching. Typically, the film that wins Best Drama at the Golden Globes, as well as receiving the most Oscar nominations of the year, is one of the top choices for the yearly Oscar pool. The film's pedigree is impressive enough that any betting man would start to think this is the one to win. Because of that, I went into the film telling myself "okay, this is the one that is probably going to win. Be prepared to judge it harshly for that."
While that internal bias threatened to cloud my judgement, I went into the film wanting to believe it would be deserving if it did win all twelve Oscars. At the very least, I wanted to see if it was likely to be better than the majority of films I saw last year. Now that I've finished the film and have had some time to think about it, I have one reaction to it:
No, really. That's it. The Revenant is fine.
For those who don't know, the Alejandro G. Iñárritu film is loosely based on the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a hunter and frontiersman in the early 19th century. After being mauled by a bear and left for dead, Glass tries to return to civilization and get revenge on the man who killed his son and left him to die in the wilderness. Most of the film follows Glass as he struggles to survive following his mauling, dealing with festering wounds, limited supplies, the constant threat of Native American attacks, and the harsh winter environment.
The Revenant sort of reminds me of James Cameron's Avatar. Avatar won the Golden Globe and had the most Oscar nominations the year it was released. Like Avatar, The Revenant is very technically well done and accomplishes its goal, but after seeing the film, I can't help but feel slightly underwhelmed. I don't think this is a bad movie, but it wasn't as great as it's been made out to be.
The film does deserve credit for a lot of aspects. The direction and cinematography are really top notch. Emmanuel Lubezki is the favorite to win Best Cinematography, and I think he'd deserve it. He's done cinematography for a lot of films I really liked (Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, The Tree of Life, Gravity, Birdman), and he could win his third consecutive award this year. The winter forests looked stunning, although I felt it got better as the film progressed when it wasn't as muddy and dull and had a lot more stark white snow to balance out all the other colors.
I even think Leonardo DiCaprio could win Best Actor. If only to make those memes finally die, I'd even like to see him win. He's a lot more expressive in this film, and he really does manage to convey a lot without dialogue. I definitely get the idea he pushed himself hard for this film, and I think the result was really well.
I think what made the movie weak for me was that there came a point where it was simply repeating itself. I get the idea that the length of the film and the multiple scenes of Glass weak and dragging himself across snowy landscapes was to show the struggle to survive and to make the climax of the film more exciting because the viewer will be more emotionally attached to him and want to see him succeed. But man, was it repetitive at times. It didn't follow an exact cycle, but the number of times he poked at his wounds, ate raw meat, huddled for warmth, and stared off into the distance kept growing and growing across the 156 minute running time. There came a point where I wanted there to be a bit more, and I don't think it delivered at times.
With only Mad Max: Fury Road to compare to at this point, I think it's fair for me to say that Mad Max hasn't been dethroned quite yet. I do think The Revenant is a good movie, and that everything Iñárritu set out to do was accomplished with enough tender love and care to make it warrant the attention and praise it's received so far. But I still don't really know what's to set it apart from other survival films. There wasn't anything new to how this story was tackled, as far as survival tales or revenge tales. It's another film with the same general lessons of "man will do anything to survive" and "revenge is inherently empty." It's a pretty film, and I think most viewers will like it. If this film was competing in another Oscar race, I'm not even sure it'd be in the upper percentile of those groups.
Overall, I do like The Revenant and I do think it will probably take home a few awards. But Best Picture? Sorry, but it's going to get mauled by other films this year.
1st: Mad Max: Fury Road
2nd: The Revenant
Tomorrow: I watch The Martian. There will likely be a joke about whether it's a comedy or not.
#Real #FilmReview #AlexCarriganChallange #OscarChallenge #TheRevenant
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