Title: The Revenant
Rating: 2 Stars
I have to admit it. I did not come into this movie with high hopes. So maybe my rating is a little harsh because it met my expectation of not having high expectations.
I understand why this picture was made; I just don’t understand why it’s Oscar bait. It is certainly well made, well acted, and beautifully filmed.
The story is just not that interesting. Good guy gets mauled by a bear well away from civilization. Good guy is seriously hurt. His group tries to bring him to civilization. The weather and terrain gets worse. The decision is made to leave a couple of people behind to take care of the good guy and his son while the others proceed onward. For some inexplicable reason, the captain leaves a known bad guy with a known antipathy to the good guy and his son as one of the people left behind. Bad guy kills son in front of good guy. Bad guy leaves good guy for dead. Good guy is not dead. Good guy overcomes insurmountable obstacles and many instances of near death to make it back to civilization so that he can have his revenge on the bad guy.
Just knowing the basic plot and watching the trailer, I went in with a very clear idea of exactly what was going to happen, and guess what, it happened! And it took two and a half hours to tell it.
DiCaprio certainly earns his paycheck here. He is clearly acting in dangerous circumstances and he apparently suffered some narrow escapes. For most of the movie he does not talk. His acting consists of various expressions of pain and determination.
Is this a new path for Best Actor nominations? Previously, Oscar bait was royalty, bravely overcoming a challenge, or set in a period piece (King’s Speech, hitting on all of these, is considered one of the most Oscar bait movies of all time). A couple of years ago, there was Robert Redford, in All is Lost, not talking but desperately trying to stay alive on a damaged boat. Here is DiCaprio, not talking but desperately trying to stay alive out in the wilderness.
Even the minor characters were predictable. There is the captain, basically good hearted, but inexperienced and doomed. There is also the young boy, again wanting to be good, but manipulated by the bad guy to betray his good intentions.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a horrible movie. I just don’t see why the critics and awards are swooning over it.
If this does sweep the Oscars, I believe that in ten years or so, people will look back and wonder why (I’m looking at you, Chariots of Fire). Five years after that, this will be featured on the hopefully still running podcast, How Did This Get Made?