I’m going to start this by listing off all of the things that makes ‘The Revenant’ objectively phenomenal.
The cinematography is outstanding. The entire film is shot with only natural light, and it’s beautiful. The opening scene is filmed extremely well and sucked me right into the movie. The scene with Leo and the bear was insane, and so incredibly difficult to watch because of how real and brutal it was. Many other scenes had this same effect on me as well.
There is likely no argument that can be made to say that ‘The Revenant’ isn’t a close to perfectly made movie as far as aesthetics. The acting was also terrific, and even the sound design was quite remarkable.
With all of that out of the way, I need to openly admit that this movie did nothing for me. I could appreciate everything it did from a film-making stand point. I recognize the effort that went into it, the great performances, and the vision that the director had. But at the end of the day, this was more of an art house film that I just could not love.
There are people that will most definitely love this movie. People that have a huge appreciation for photography, paintings, or any other forms of visual art will indeed think of this in the highest regard. I however (despite the fact that I write a movie blog), consider myself to be more of an average movie-goer. I go to the movies to either be entertained, or to be educated on a specific subject. Sometimes, I walk out of a movie getting both. ‘The Social Network’ is a great example of this. The movies’ script, music, and overall feel entertains me, but I also learn about the history of Facebook, and the legal battles that took place. Sometimes I’m just more informed than entertained. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is an example of that…So are most documentaries. I also recently saw ‘Spotlight’ which is another good example of this. And then sometimes I’m just plain entertained, and this is why I can kick back and watch ‘Star Wars’ or ‘The Avengers’ annually.
My point is that ‘The Revenant’ did not entertain, nor educate me on anything. I appreciated what I was seeing, but the end result did not resonate with my tastes. Many will consider this a masterful work of art. I see it, I get it. But for me it was boring.
Leonardo DiCaprio probably does deserve an Oscar for this performance. It was great. But that’s another problem I had with it. I sincerely hope that Leo does not actually care about some stupid trophy. But I couldn’t help but feel that this film is just him doing everything possible (before making a deal with Satan), to finally obtain this stupid award. The guy eats raw bison liver and sleeps in an actual horse carcass for God’s sake! It’s amazing that he actually did these things to make his performance feel visceral, but it was just difficult to watch. Aside from this, you’re really just watching him suffer and die for 2 and a half hours. That’s not fun for me.
After awhile, the performances, visuals, and even a lot of dialogue becomes redundant. I really got nothing out of this movie except for a few brilliantly crafted scenes. The final fight between Leo and Tom Hardy was very brutal and intense, but getting there took far too long. If there’s some deep message within this movie, I either got the gist of it somewhere in the middle, or I missed the point completely. Either way, I just don’t care what it could possibly be at this point.
I know I am absolutely in the minority with my thoughts. It seems like almost every film fan out there loves this movie. I just want to reiterate that I totally understand why this is, and that I do at least appreciate what this movie was doing. Objectively, it’s a nearly perfect movie, with how it’s shot, the performances, the visuals, the editing, etc…
But on a personal level, ‘The Revenant’ accomplished very little.
But hey, who am I to say that you won’t enjoy it? Just be warned about what type of movie this is before seeing it. It’s for a very different type of film fan. The one that I am not.