★★★★★ – “Visually stunning.”

The Revenant is directed by critically acclaimed and 3-time Academy Award winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson & Will Poulter.

Left for dead by members of his hunting team after being mauled by a bear, and betrayed by his confidant John Fitzgerald, Hugh Glass sets off on an incredible path to redemption. Journeying across a vicious landscape and in great turmoil, Glass pushes his body and spirit to breaking-point.

With his experience travelling across Europe in his younger years, Iñárritu has acquired a rather large and passionate mindset for visuals and interestingly intricate locations in his filmmaking. With Birdman blowing away movie-goers and critics alike in 2014 with its beautiful camera work and long, steady shots, with superb acting all accompanied by a smart screenplay; Iñárritu had to return with strength. And he has. This is how directors should start shooting action sequences and entire movies all together. Long and smooth shots which never cut unnecessarily, settling you right into the world with no noticeable jogs or jolts that could pull you out. You can see everything that’s going on around these characters. I’m sure there are filmmakers that are already taking notes, given the success of both this and Birdman. Not only is this Iñárritu’s influence, but cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki has the eye for nature, and using what we’ve been given, to ultimate effect. It’s worth noting that everything; every word of dialogue, every scene of violence, every shot of scenery, was shot in natural light. Only once was an exception made, for a campfire scene. Meaning each day of shooting had to be carefully planned ahead of time to make sure that those vital hours of light were used. This is one of many reasons I love Iñárittu’s work. Maximum realism, results in an immersive experience.

The screenplay is significantly convincing, and although around 40% is spoken in Native American languages, it manages to keep you connected to what’s happening on-screen. Iñárittu is one of the writers for this movie, amongst Mark L. Smith and novelist Michael Punke, who wrote the story this movie is loosely based on. I’d like to read the novel and see how this adaption varies from the original story.

The acting by all members of the cast were outstanding, but with 2 Academy Award nominations being tied to DiCaprio and Hardy, you’d be wanting to know if they deserve it. My answer; Absolutely. Both are neck and neck with each other throughout the movie, and fall into their characters with extreme intensity. DiCaprio has stated that this was the hardest performance of his entire career. With all the things he had to learn and do to become Hugh Glass I’d say he should definitely take the Oscar. Whether he does or doesn’t, will not affect my views. The same for Hardy. Impeccable skill is on show here, by everyone, it would be a shame if it didn’t win, but it’s already gained huge amounts of attention so that’s fine by me.

(Congratulations, Leo. Well deserved.)

Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto & Carsten Nicolai is fabulously soft and subtle, yet energetic and expeditious when it needs to be. It was used as a part of the overall sound design for the movie, and was added with the natural sounds, not slapped on after, so to speak. This is something I think that filmmakers should also think about doing more often, weaving the music through the visuals without singling out anything until last minute. It really adds to the overall viewing experience, and makes for a pleasant surprise.

The visual and special effects were barely noticeable, which isn’t a bad thing. They look real, feel real, sound real. The bear scene is brutal. And I mean brutal. If there’s one thing I can say about this film, it’s that it’s brutally violent and gory. Again, not a bad thing. This helps with the realism and nature of this story. There’s never a distraction.

Verdict; The Revenant is another masterpiece by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and showcases the finest acting, and passion for filmmaking. This is a definite must-see.

“My heart bleeds. But revenge is in the creator’s hands.”

The Revenant – ★★★★★ (9/10)

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