The Revenant (2015) – Movie Review

”As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe… keep breathing.” – Hugh Glass

Despite it’s December release in the States, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe winning hit The Revenant didn’t reach UK cinemas until January 2016; but make no mistake, this is not your expected January-released flop that us movie-goers have become accustomed to. 

If you had seen Iñárritu’s Birdman prior to watching The Revenant then you might have been expecting the same style of exceptional and unprecedented cinematography that was used in the 2014 Oscar-winning hit to be used here. And you would be correct in assuming so. Alongside him once more was Emmanuel Lubezki, the acclaimed cinematographer who brought you Birdman, and together they encapsulated the landscapes of the 19th Century through natural lighting and native environments. As we travel across the alluring landscapes with Hugh Glass whilst accompanied with a suspenseful, yet stunning musical score from Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto, we get to see how beautiful and realistic the film looks. At particular moments, I even felt myself shuddering in my cinema seat with goosebumps growing up my arms – I felt cold to the point where I was very much looking forward to snuggling up in my bed surrounded by warmth, an option that seemed impossible for the likes of Hugh Glass. There was even times during the movie that filled me with fear, from the very opening scene to the extremely realistic bear attack. My God, that bear attack! I don’t think I have ever squirmed in my seat simultaneously in astonishment and despair, with each attack seeming more realistic than the last. Hopefully speaking, this is the closest thing to a bear attack that we will ever encounter in our lifetimes, and gladly so too. 

I’ve never been so confident in saying that if Leonardo DiCaprio fails to win an Oscar for his performance in The Revenant, he will never do so. From eating a raw liver (as a vegetarian too, I must add) to learning to speak two Native American languages for his role, it is fair to say that we have never seen such a commitment from an actor since Christian Bale’s transformation for The Machinist. Tom Hardy is excellent also in his portrayal of John Fitzgerald – a desperate man eager to expose of Hugh Glass – and even he has an Oscar nomination to look forward to. Together, the pair succeed in bringing to life two very interesting, troubled, and very different characters who have contrasting ideologies that cause conflict throughout the entirety of the movie.

After speaking to other friends who had seen the movie it became clear that The Revenant is very similar to Marmite; that is, you either love it or hate it. Whilst I was raving about the stunning landscapes and natural environments, others had reason to believe that it was too much of a good thing and that the majority of the movie just wanted to show off the fact that no green screens were used during production. I can see where they are coming from, yes, but with the overloading amount of CGI-based environments being used in films nowadays, The Revenant comes as a breath of fresh air; and after all, it is nice to step outside every now and again.

VERDICT: A

A Gorgeous, Suspenseful Experience!

As a whole, The Revenant ended 2015 in spectacular fashion. We can leave our local cinemas with our heads held high and with a movie worth talking about, and in a few years time, will look back at Iñárritu’s masterpiece and say, ”Yeah, that film was pretty awesome.”

Published February 2nd, 2016.

-Corey Hughes

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