The Revenant – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

therevenantThe Revenant – 4/5 – A new year; a new start for movie reviews.  Beginning this year is a film that has been on my radar for quite some time.  From the director of Birdman; there was a lot of promise, intrigue and suspicion.  In short, The Revenant is a film that captures the essences of the journey of man.  Through the combination of strong characters, simple storytelling and authentic locales; this film does an amazing job in creating the atmosphere of man vs. nature.  The struggle to survive is one that bears fruit in many parts of life.  With that kind of experience, the Revenant provides something of an amazing on the big screen.  This is one cinematic experience that pays off in the end.

Premise:  On a quest of survival; one man must journey through the cold wilderness and face all odds on his journey to enacting revenge against a man who left him for dead.

At the heart of the story are two actors.  You have:

Leonardo Dicaprio as Hugh Glass

Tom hardy as John Fitzgerald

We get to see superb talent on display with these two actors.  In the roles as Hugh Glass and John Fitzgerald; you see these two infuse themselves into these roles; bleeding raw vigor of human will in the harsh wilderness.  You see the depth of fragility each men face within fateful circumstance; as there are faced with tough choices on what to do to survive.  In Hugh Glass; Dicaprio shows the pure heart of a man on to live and complete a personal mission.  Left for dead by his companions; he exudes the purest intent of what can define human will.  You see him move through each dimension of a person’s physical and emotional struggle; faced with decisions of survival at each and every turn.  This helps create a web that forms the ‘inner peace’ journey, a characterized point for the audience to gravitate to.  This placement helps provide a unique polarizing point for the other character; John Fitzgerald.  In Fitzgerald, Tom Hardy shows you a whole other level of the arching theme of survival.  Through Hardy, you see a man defined by selfish motivations.  He lives with the ideal of surviving by all means.  That humanizing conflict creates another layer that helps show his side of personal choice and struggle.  Do you sacrifice for the good of all or just yourself?  This helps provide another window that parallel’s Leo’s Hugh Glass.  It also gives a sense of a vilified character, a pseudo like antagonist.  This helps create stand out characters because there isn’t a ‘black/white’ to the either side.  Decisions are made based on the fate and chance.  That idea of ‘man vs. nature’ helps provide another angle of the characterization; creating meaningful depth to understanding their decisions in the film.  The rest of the characters fall under the umbrella of typecast.  They become victims of the story and the ideals explored in the film.  They are there to help provide a sense of atmosphere, showing the world that exist in and around the film.

The direction of this film goes along the lines of any typical revenge story.   You have your basic outline that encompasses all three acts:

First act: Plot points used to setup characters and motivational starting mark; revenge story set.

Second act: Plot progression of both sides of the revenge story (struggle of man physical/personal).

Third action: Final confrontation of their struggle; both personal and physical resolution.

In the film, you are brought into the world by watching a group of trappers/hunters on a general ‘hunt/gathering’ mission. After an encounter with local natives, they are left to journey back to camp through the cold wilderness.  In this general setup, other plot devices are introduced that set into motion Hugh Glass’s personal/physical struggle to survive and John Fitzgerald’s decision of personal gain.  As the base of the revenge is set in, it almost becomes a mute point through the rest of the film.  As the story progresses, the backbone of Glass’s revenge story begins to get glazed over by the eye of the director.  Through his eye, you get to see the scope of the visual prowess combined with the ideals of survival.  Seeing the story evolve through fateful encounters and natural settings help create an ideal situation that provides ‘truth’ to the idea of man vs. nature.  Within this brutal reality experienced, a parallel journey is shown more vividly in the two main characters.  You see Glass’s self discovery tale progress while Fitzgerald’s struggle with worth and blinding decisions.  Through this unique directive, the methodical pacing helps build characterization through the combination of human and natural element.  This visualization of story provides a ideal sense of purity.  You get to see the struggle of one’s fight against fate dictated by the strength of symbolism. Watching the struggle is brutal, raw and bare.  That emotional grip gives you a personal hold on the journey.  It shows how decisions, wit and purpose become something of transcendence.  When Glass comes ‘full circle’ in his personal journey, he comes across Fitzgerald in a climax that brings the harshness of the experience to the forefront.  The visceral interaction gives the audience a layered complexion of the themes and ideas that are explored.  As the film moves to a ‘completed’ sense of the revenge story, the epilogue gives the film an ambiguous ending.  It gives insight of the driving force that intertwines human, nature and fate of life.

The visuals make this film stand out.  The cinematography is simply breathtaking.  Being complete shot outdoors, everything that is captured by the lens breathes life into the story.  With authentic locales used throughout, you get an atmospheric sensation that bleeds the raw fortitude of man in nature.  The struggle is brought through the combination of natural lighting, singular camera techniques and ‘one shot’ method on action and detailed sequences.  This creates a sense of purposed realism.  Even if there is a fictionalized tale, you feel the sense of reality.  There is a given a sense of ‘being there’; feeling the emotional draw through the camera.  The score is very subtle throughout the film.  Most of the music (if any) is created from the natural settings.  At times, there is a touch of surrounding loud sounds and ‘predictable’ music quips, but that is typically to help induce tension through a methodical approach.   Even so, the score is mostly non-existent.

The Revenant is a film that encompass the true sense of a visually cinematic experience.  From the unique direction left to the characters and visual prowess; you get a film that enraptures you in a tale of struggle from beginning to the end.  With great actors in the main leads, you will experience something different, even if it is typical revenge story.  If you’re a fan of Leo, Tom Hardy or like something that is cinematically entertaining; this is one for you.  This is worth the full price of admission, and a great film to start of the New Year.

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