I happened to catch a trailer for “The Revenant” before watching “The Martian” in theaters. Those of you who know me, will understand the rarity of both going to the theater and not shutting my eyes during a trailer. The trailer was good and I’m a fan of gritty westerns, True Grit is one of my few movie purchases in the last five years.
I’ll do this whole review spoiler free outside of a mention of fighting a bear.
A holiday Monday, when your mother-in-law has the kids makes for a perfect movie watching experience. Nothing out now, sans Star Wars, is a “theater” movie. I don’t go to the theater for a comedy or drama - I want an audio and visual spectacle. The Revenant excels in these two areas - especially the audio. The video spectacle comes in two forms - intensity of the characters and the cinematography of the American west. The visual closeness of the characters is well done, and the best quality of “The Revanant” is the squirmy feeling one has during the fight scenes. When the main character is attacked by a bear, I was physically uncomfortable, literally squirming in my seat. This feeling repeated itself a couple other times. To me, “The Revenant” doesn’t cross the line into gore just to be gory, every splatter or pool of blood seems to fit the brutal narrative. The vast visual experience of America’s west is nice the first and maybe the second time, but halfway through the movie I couldn’t help but think this was like viewing a family’s series of vacation pictures where there are entirely too many scenery or windshield wiper pictures. The audio aspect of the movie was incredibly well done. It was engrossing with its accuracy.
It’s baseball “comp” season where you look at current players and who their doppelganger from year’s past would be. The feeling of, “I’ve seen this before” came over me frequently throughout “The Revenant.” It was a harsher version of “Cast Away.” Both have similar IMDB and RT scores. It’s a shame the director focused so much on Leonardo DiCaprio’s role when the supporting cast was incredible.
Was “The Revenant” worth seeing? Yes. Was it worth seeing in theaters? Yes. Did I want to stick around for a second showing like I did with “Mad Max: Fury Road?” Not even close.
I’m at a B for this one. That’s probably as low as I’ll go.
I sat on this review for a day and watched Star Wars: Episode IV. I had SW at B before heading down, and thought, “Revenant was much more amusing. I’ll go up to B+ there.” I think it fits some MMC rating systems as follows for B+...
“Formally very strong, but lacking in strong emotional resonance. The big emotional boost is necessary to get to A range. No bad scenes allowed.”
“Might have bad scenes, can get by on strength of great scenes”
“I'd watch this without checking my phone”