Astounding cinematography • Ample gore • Meh plot & acting
by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:
irst of all, spoilage alert: This film has a lot of gruesome stuff going on. I mean, I sat through the Normandy landing scene of Saving Private Ryan with nary a scratch on my psyche. But The Revenant has some extra-special goriness that should not be minimized. Well, I wish they would have minimized it in the film, but for purposes of reviewing said cinematic masterpiece, I simply cannot minimize the nauseating footage that appears throughout said flick.
That said, let’s go back to the beginning of this movie. Or, should I say, the beginning of my experience watching this movie (or trying to). My adult† son and I decided to take in The Revenant this last Sunday evening; it was showing at the Regal Division Street Stadium Theaters.
Firstly, their name says “Stadium” theatre, but the rooms we saw had very little resemblance to stadium-style seating. They were basically regular movie house theatres, with a marginal grade that started from the front row going up to the back row. Dint see any stadiums.
So there’s that.
Secondly (and this was perhaps the most whacko element of our venture into movie-watching that night), we arrived at the outside ticket booth at about 6:45, for the 7PM showing. We purchased our tickets, “Two, for The Revenant,” (we said it with italics) and after procuring said tickets, proceeded inside, where the ticket ripper told us to go to “Theatre Eight.” Once inside number eight, we realized the movie had already started (it was, like, 6:53-ish now).
we thought. Did we not intend to view the 7PM show? we thought. Yet sure enough, up there on the big screen, as we stood there, standing, Leo DeCap was bigger’n life and all, speaking foreign words, with subtitles subtly placed, sub-ly (It was all very subtitle). My son and I looked at each other and shrugged while lifting our open palms: “WTF?”
I mean, it was only 6:53-ish, and the movie wasn’t supposed to start for, like, way many more minutes. Why the heck was Leo already up there, speaking foreign words? With all those subtitles and stuff! [We would discover later that, fortunately, there was a lot of English in the movie too.]
We glanced at the audience, and they were obviously deeply entranced—not at all showing the demeanor of an audience that hasn’t quite settled yet. You know: When you’re just getting comfortable in your seat, the previews are playin’ and you’re establishing passing-patterns for the popcorn. No, they were entranced.
“This must be the wrong theatre,” I said.
My son (who is quite bright) agreed.
So, we trudged out of Eight and made our way back to the ticket-tearer girl in the foyer (if ever there was a “minimum-wage” job, hers was it). She said we’d need to go outside to the ticket booth again, and get them to fixit. Whaa? Obviously, she was not able to reach beyond her minimum-wage duties.
We did go back to the outside booth, joining two women who had experienced the same plight as us.
Long story just as long, the outside ticket booth told us to return inside and make our way to the foyer desk, and they’d summon a person to deal with us. Whaa? How I love it when you get the runaround, especially when the problem was caused by them to begin wif.
We returned inside (I can be compliant when it suits me), and within many minutes we were joined by not one, but five or eight others who had also been sold tickets to the 6:30 showing. The 6:30 showing! We got there @ 6:45! And there was obviously a 7:00 showing coming up in, like, what, 15 minutes!
How is it that an outside-ticket-booth-person would sell tickets, >>at 6:45PM<<, for the 6:30 show, when it’s obvious that they have a 7PM showing as well? Who does that?
Apparently, at the Regal Division Street (Stadium) Theatres, this isn’t unusual behavior.*
Well, my highly-intelligent son and I stood at the foyer desk for quite a few minutes while we waited for the summoned person to confer with the outside ticket booth person. Summoned person eventually returned to the foyer desk, only to punch multiple times (actually, it was many multiple times) at her computer screen (somewhat frantically, I might add), apparently trying to rectify the situation and issue us (by now, all dozen-or-so of us) our correct tickets.
My (genius) son’s question at the time: “Why don’t they just tell us which theater to go to, and fix the ticket debacle on their own time?”
To which I replied, “At least we don’t have to sit through many, multiple previews, and such.”
My (possibly smarter-n-God-Himself-intelligent) son needed only nod his appreciation of my perspicacity. We met eyes, and it was good.
So get this: After we went through all that foyer-ticket-tearer, outside-ticket-person, inside-foyer-desk-summoned-person shuffling stuff, my son and I finally got to the new, 7:00 theater: Number Five. We did find very nice seats, center and middle (amidst the almost all-vacant-other-seats; obviously they’d directed pretty-much everyone to the 6:30 showing). BUT, the most nauseating aspect of the whole brouhaha (the forthcoming nausea generated by said actual movie notwithstanding) was this: After the previews in Theater Five (no, we didn’t excape** all of them) actually finished, and the movie actually started, it basically started AT THE EXACT SECOND that my (supremely-genius-and-smarter-n-U) son and I arrived at the original theatre (8), whence we saw Leo speaking in a foreign language and flashing subtitles all over hell!
In fact,*** my son (he’s actually quite smart) and I could’ve taken a seat in that original post-popcorn-passing theater, and: We would have missed nothing. Could’ve saved our (intelligent°) selves some 35 minutes if we’d justa taken a seat.
Yet, we would’ve never been sure we’d seen everything that was germane to the movie. So, can you blame us? After all, as I already stated, we’re quite smart. Both my son and me.
Now, shall we get the the crux of the actual production? We shall:
First, what is a “Revenant”? Do you know?
Even my spectacularly bright son and I had to look-itup. Thankfully, there’s Siri. She has it on reliable sources that a Revenant is someone who has returned. Often (usually?), supposedly, from the dead.
Thence, the title of this release is appropriate. Leonardo DeCapitation plays a guy what has pretty-much survived much grossness, gruesomeness and raw animal consumption (not to mention finding a warm safe-harbor inside the hollowed-out remains of an animal) to emerge again: Alive—to the surprise of at least one of his antagonists.
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of my review: The Revenant will prolly win multiple Oscars this spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won: Best DeCaprio, Best Cinematography in an Otherwise Too-Long Movie, Best Makeup (yeah, there was some gruesome-good makeup stuff goin’ on), and Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy is in line for this, and having seen no other nominees for BSA yet, I’d have to give the Oxcar to him anyway). In fact, watching the flick, I wasn’t aware of Hardy’s nomination for BSA (he played the nemesis, Fitzgerald), and I leaned into my (amazingly smart and wonderfully sensitive) son and said, “I wonder if that Fitzgerald actor was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He’s amazing.”
Given the politics of Hollywood, I won’t be surprised if The Revenant gets Best Flick, too. Moving on, there's a scene where a grizzly bear attacks Leo DeCap, and I hafta say this: The BEAR deserves an Oscar too (is there a category for Best Supporting Animal?). My (quite high-IQ'd) son and I both had a hard time figuring out how they did the bear thing: CGI? Animatronics? An actual bear what was trained? You tell me. I'd actually/really like to hear from you if you have an idea where in heck they got this bear.
My highest marks for this flick goes to the cinematography. Just some blow-you-off-the-map amazing photography. If you like long (tall) trees [Freud, are you listening?], and some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever-in-all-your-life-see, then you’ll want to see this movie (if you can keep from barfing while the characters eat barely-dead, uncooked animals).
That brings us to the BARFING aspect. During this movie, people eat very ripe, sumptuous, glistening-with-almost-life organs and such. Fresh off the newly-dead animal. Pulled right out from the still-almost-throbbing innards of said quadruped. I heard that the animal parts were real, and Leonardo had to actually eat that. IMHO, he gets the Oscar for that alone.
Like I said above, I can usually handle most of the blood and guts that movies offer up. Go ahead and shoot ‘em: kill 'em with knives; stab, skewer, bludgeon, whatever. I’ve become numb to most blood in movies. Killings of all kinds: stabbings, impaling, fights, all sorts of stuff; it’s a mainstay in movies these days.
Yet, I wasn’t prepared for the emetic portrayal of Revenant characters eating the organs, guts and innards of animals. I actually had to look away. Me. Holding my abdomen. Yeah, you might want to bring a bucket to Theater Eight.
Yet, the good part: The SCENERY and PHOTOGRAPHY were like nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was amazing. Just fantastically beautiful. I can’t find the superlatives to describe it. It was astounding.
THE PLOT: Meh. Totally predictable, yet they did a pretty-good job of making it suspenseful. The cinematography makes up for most of the deficiencies here, kinda.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Bad. My (supremely wonderful) son and I agreed that they could have easily developed the characters much more. Leo’s son: Needed to see him relate to his Dad more. And his Mom more. With just a few minutes of footage, we could have really related to the son, and his relationship to his Dad (Leo). Also, Leo’s (dead) wife (the son’s mom) really lacked any kind of connection to the audience. Again, just a few more minutes of relationship-building here could have made a huge difference. (Maybe substitute a few of the tall tree scenes for footage of mom, son & Leo interacting and building relationship? IMHO, that would have made a HUGE difference in the movie.)
THE ACTING: Good—but not spectacular. (Did you know Leo DeCapitation hasn’t yet won an Oscar? Maybe this year…) And again, I thought the guy who played the Fitzgerald dude (Tom Hardy) was very good. But I also agree with THIS REVIEWER. (Yeah, he's a very good reviewer. Read his review; it's comprehensive. Our revewing styles are a tad different. I like to think of myself as a bit more "folksy" than he. Yet, he is writing for the BBC, so there's that. The RASH isn't quite there yet.)
UPSHOT: I think The Revenant will get some Oscars. It’s a cinematic triumph, but not really a theatrical one. The plot was painfully simple. No real character arcs. A beautiful movie. Twenty-minutes too long. Yet the scenery and setting make it a worthy-see. Just remember to bring your barf bag.
† Yes, he’s like, in his early 30s, okay? DO NOT take ANYONE to this movie who might even possibly be under the age of, like, 26. Kids will be grossed out. The violence is not gratuitous, but it is quite raw and bloody.
* We never saw the outside ticket-booth person coming out of the booth demonstrating any kind of remorse for being fired for such egregious behavior. My bet is that said person didn’t even get a talking-to.
** Spelling alert! Can you spot the error?
*** Facts are so underrated, aren’t they?
° The apple don’t fall far from the tree, right?