The Grey – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

greyThe Grey – 3/5 – I don’t really have a prologue to the introduction to this movie.  I say this because there isn’t a really good way to classify this film.  The Grey deals with many complexities, that even with its simple narrative, it strikes a tangling chord.  At the  core, the movie focuses around survival.  Beyond this, it had many more layers added to it.  At the center of it all, is a group of guys, struggling to find reasons to survive.  Through all these meanings and moments, there are many conflictions in the direction, you can’t really hammer what the real meaning is.

Premise: In Alaska, a team of oil workers head home on an airplane; however, they cross a storm and crash.  Only seven workers survive, and embark on a journey through the wilderness.  John Ottway (Liam Nesson), a huntsman that kills wolves to protect the workers, takes leadership of the group.  After the crash, they learn that they have to fend off against Mother Nature, including a pack of wolves.  Along the way, wills are tested, stories are told, and a matter of human character must be shown through all that try to survive, including John.

At the main lead, we have a man by the name of John Ottway.  Playing the role of the huntsman is Liam Nesson.  Like any role, he brings across a strong bravado that is, awe inspiring and also perplexing, in a good way.  In this role, he provides someone conflicted with a past, which both haunts and helps him survive through this dire situation.  Dealing with this past, it helps him take the leadership of the group, as well as help them survive in the wilderness.  A lot of the focus of the film is on him and his inner confliction with this past.  This characterization is very well developed.  It shows you that in his strength, there is a vulnerability that makes him honest, pure and very much the real leader.  I found this to be a strong point for the movie, since the rest of the film didn’t do much.  When it comes to the secondary characters, there isn’t much to say.  They play typical archetype alpha males, with their own ideas and own mannerisms in trying to survive.  A lot of these mannerisms adds to the predictable outcome, where it shows who will either be killed by nature or by the wolves in the film.  These typecast hinder the performance of Nesson’s character, because the director tries to develop these side characters, wanting you to care about them.  With a lack of development, you don’t care, creating a boring tone to them and the film as a whole.  I would also add in acting is the wovles of the movie.  There are a pack of wolves that causes hardship for the group.  What is great about the wolves is they provide a complimentary antagonist to the film, outside of the survival in the woods.  This helps add depth to the films generalities, but also Nesson’s character and his connection to the audience.  If it wasn’t for the addition of these carnivorous foes, the movie would have been stale.

The direction is a very simple but strong, linear narrative.  This linear tone is the basic;

Catastrophe caused by some plot element (here a plane crash), a handful of survivors, group conlfiction, episodic deaths, and the ultimate decision in the end.

At the core of this direction is the ideal of ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘strength of the human character’.  You see the film revolve around both themes, as the group struggle to survive.  You see they all have to work together to continue on and find some string of reason to live.  As you watch this, the feelings are captured by the desolation of the area as well as the dramatization of the emotions and health of each of the characters in the film.  What helps add to the conflict is the battle against nature.  Not only do they have to worry about the danger of the winter, but also the local population of wolves.  The director does a good job (as mentioned above) in creating a strong antagonist with the wolves.  They create a true sense of confliction that the audience can grab on, because of how the viciousness reflects true grit in the human characters.  With these themes and tones built up, it creates a pro and con.  As much as the themes and tones are strong and direness is evident, all that is introduced through these layers are not blended well.  The direction takes turns in focusing on one theme to the other, that you never really get a grip if there is a real storyline.  This causes conflict and confusion on what really matters as the focus of the film.  What also hinders this is the additional focus on the characterization of John Ottway.  We also are given a look into his life, anguish and reasons to either live or die.  The strongest and most relative themes of the storyline is here, but the lack there of in layering this with the other aspects of the film makes you not have the kind of attachment you need by the climax.  The epilogue at the end is great, but it just falls flat because of the tangling of plot points/themes created to get to this point.  This confusion on what you should have experienced in the film.

When it comes to the visuals, they are outstanding.  The creation of the plane crash was very intense and believable, you were on the edge of your seat for the whole event.  After the crash, the whole ‘isolation’ feel is created vividly by the vast terrain and the weathering elements of the Alaskan wilderness.  From the open fields of white to the forest, you feel the struggles and trials everyone is going through.  With no music created in the background, you are left with the score created by general tone.  This means that all in this specific film is left to the noises of Mother Nature.  From the wind, snow to the howling of the wolves, you feel the ‘loneliness’ and ‘no hope’ in the world created.

Overall, The Grey is a very interesting and conflicting film to judge.  It dabbles in many themes that have real consequence, but with too many layers and no single focus, you get lost in what you are trying to watch. The visuals are stunning, and the wolves were evidently scary throughout the film.  If you’re a fan of Liam Nesson, I would give this film a chance.  This film is only worth a single watch, as you’ll feel no need to watch it again.

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