The Revenant Movie Review

Genre: Western/Survival

Rating: MA

Length: 156 minutes

Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio

Tom Hardy

Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoebZZ8K5N0

 

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Well if there is any Academy Award buzz in 2016 it is probably for Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hugh Glass in the epic western survival film The Revenant. This film does lots of this right such as creating an engaging story and setting with very few mistakes. It does stand to say that DiCaprio deserved to be nominated for the award but combined with great direction by Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki; this film nears what we would consider a masterpiece.

 

The plot follows Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a man who is left for dead by a trapper who killed his son. Glass travels hundreds of miles to try and avenge his son’s death. To make it more chaotic for Glass, he battles a grizzly bear that leaves him completely incapacitated before he goes on his revenge quest. We see his extreme suffering throughout the film where he can barely move, speak or breathe; he is completely pale and will go to extreme measures to make sure he survives each and every day under extreme weather and any other barriers that cross his way.

 

Maybe the sixth time is the charm for an Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio. His acting in this film is so visceral and gut wrenching that we get absorbed in his characters struggle. He plays a man of passion. To paraphrase a quote from the film: As long as he has a breath, he will fight. He fights for survival, his family, and his will to live. The other actors in the film like Tom Hardy who plays the main antagonist are also very good but essentially take a back seat for the Hugh Glass character, as he is the star of the show.

 

The closest film comparison I can make of The Revenant is Cast Away starring Tom Hanks. Both contain a man who is lost in environment and are unexpectedly shut out of society. Both also have minimal dialogue in the survival scenes. The difference is in Cast Away Hank’s character uses the environment as his friend and uses it to his advantage whereas in The Revenant DiCaprio’s character goes to extreme measures to survive against the environment, as it is his own worst enemy.

 

The biggest things that stand out most to me were two things and neither of them had to do with the great acting from DiCaprio. It’s was how cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life, Gravity) managed to capture great angles and footage within the space of a single long takes and in combination with Iñárritu’s (Babel and Birdman) direction to mix absolute gore and horror with the beautifully sublime. There are a lot of stabbings and shootings that are so up close to the camera in a single take. Add to the fact that the camera does not cut away and most of them in battle scenes are completely unexpected and take us by surprise (for better or for worse). Conversely there are also long shots of tundra, icy lakes and waterfalls and forests under twilight that are absolutely beautiful. This is what keeps us, the viewer, going for the 156-minute runtime whenever the momentum of the film slows down.

 

This is a film that will constantly captivate the audience either by surprise (good and bad) or by awe and wonderment with us constantly thinking, “Will he survive?” throughout the entirety of the film. The film, like the premise is like an endurance test due to its length, but the various violent, poignant or survival scenes more then make up for it. Therefore I give The Revenant ****1/2

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The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight

 

Genre: Western

Rating: R

Length: 168 minutes

Main Cast:       Samuel. L. Jackson

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Kurt Russell

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69UwVX6Riv8 (Copy and paste the link to the URL bar)

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Quentin Tarantino’s film “The Hateful Eight” has several highlights and lowlights. Never has any of his films had violent, murderous and morally irredeemable characters to the extent that he has made. This film however also has an interesting premise, good acting and great direction. Is this film better then the average film that people will go and see: Yes. Is this film as good or better then an average Quentin Tarantino film: No.

 

The acting in the film was pretty good and convincing and the cast has good chemistry. Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for best actress in her role as Daisy Domergue in this film. Tim Roth tries to fill in the massive shoes Christopher Waltz left by playing the charming and witty characters in Tarantino’s previous two films inglorious bastards and Django Unchained. While he was a good actor, he won’t be filling Watlz’s shoes for a very long time.

 

To anyone who does not know the main film elements of a Quentin Tarantino film, you should expect the following Criteria:

 

  1. Interesting characters and character dialogue
  2. A highly odd but very interesting story or situation that the characters find themselves in
  3. Over-the-top graphic violence
  4. Sadistic but hilarious situations that crop up from time to time

 

Only the second point is what Tarantino managed to execute perfectly. The other three elements were either excessive, absent or just did not work at all. This will be elaborated upon and explained throughout the review.

 

This film starts off with John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) in a stagecoach handcuffed to a Daisy Domergue whom has a ten thousand dollar bounty on her head played by Jennifer Jason Leigh as they are riding in a blizzard to a place called Red Rock. He reluctantly picks up a bounty hunter Markus Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and a Sheriff before a blizzard comes and they are forced to stay at a place called Minnie’s Haberdashery (a stagecoach lodge) until the blizzard passes which is were the rest of the film is shot. There are four more characters inside the lodge totaling the eight primary characters in this film hence why, the film is called “The Hateful Eight”. This is pretty much the setup of the film.

 

The reason this film is 168 minutes in duration is because the setup was so unnecessarily long and drawn out. The stagecoach scene took nearly half and hour and the introduction to the other characters in the stagecoach lodge were about 20 to 30 minutes long. The character introductions totaled to nearly one hour in duration. Even though the character dialogue was interesting and the characters are unique it was not enough to sustain interest for the hour as there was little to no plot progression at that point to justify it.

 

What makes The Hateful Eight worse is none of these characters have any moral ground, meaning that there is no compassion felt for any of these characters sufferings, as they are all heartless bastards. As a member of the audience I had no emotional connection nor did I feel sympathetic with any of them, which is not what any person wants to feel during a movie.

 

The premise explained in the trailer is the definitely best part of the film. The premise is one man in Minnie’s Haberdashery is not who they say they are and wants to free Daisy Domergue and will kill anyone that prevents the culprit from freeing her. Think of this as the board me Cluedo but with blood and violence. There are a couple of interesting and unexpected twists and turns throughout as the film transforms into a whodunit western mystery. This was a 50-minute edge-of-your-seat moment as the characters deduct and narrow down suspects until they got the true story of events. This was by far the most entertaining part of the film with a very interesting premise and story development that is in Tarantino’s other movies such as Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained. This is such great entertainment, which is what keeps the film afloat.

 

However the violence in this film is brutal and cold but it is not in the Tarantino style of fashion as it was not entertaining or shocking in any way. A viewer will essentially know when something violent is going to happen in the film and expects it in “The Hateful Eight”. In Tarantino’s other films the violence would be shocking because it was unexpected or because the violence in the scene was so brutal it would make anyone uncomfortable viewing it. That is violence as art as it keeps you on the edge of your seat and prevents boredom as you won’t believe what you witnessed. Or Tarantino makes a sadistic joke or act that is pretty funny and makes the violence lighthearted. None of this happened. In The Hateful Eight, it is pretty much expected when someone is going to get punched or get shot that when the violence happens, it is just sad or pathetic.

 

To recap: The storytelling, filmmaking and acting is a master class from This film. However the long character setup, the sadistic heartless characters with no redeeming qualities and the senseless violence damaged the quality of the film. My final verdict for the hateful eight: ***1/4

 

How the Rating System Works

First and foremost, it should be noted that this rating system is popularised be a man called Dave Meltzer, a reviewer who is the main writer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter of whom I admire. He has a rating system that I had not seen before which I liked and will be using for my reviews.

It will be a star rating system where:

Five stars is the best

Minus five stars is the worst

Zero stars will be referred to as a DUD

An average movie is about a two-star rating.

A positive review rating is anything greater than or equal to three stars

It will get exponentially harder for a movie to get on the extreme ends of the star rating spectrum to keep it’s integrity.