Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Revenant

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

The Revenant poster

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Written by Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu  Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke

Starring Leonardo DiCaprioTom HardyDomhnall GleesonWill Poulter & Forrest Goodluck

The Revenant is a revenge fantasy. Beautifully photographed and superbly directed, it is gorgeous. The movie is raw and violent and untamed like the early midwest. Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic but he isn’t the stand-out performance in the movie because Tom Hardy is amazing as the focus of Leo’s revenge. This is the bloody and savage wilderness. And it is brutally savage. This is the beginnings of the slaughter of Native Americans and the raping of the land. But it is as lovely as it is grizzly. And believe me, it is grizzly. I kid you not. The Revenant is fucking awesome.

Verdict: SPARED

Leo DiCaprio in The RevenantFirst things first. Alejandro Iñárritu is an incredible artist. I have searched far and wide for the next Stanley Kubrick and I think I’ve found him. Like Kubrick his movies are astonishing and beautifully animated epic photographs. His actors give performances that are head and shoulders above everything else they’ve done in their careers. And his stories are complex and intricate tales of the deeper and darker sides of the human experience. He’s just insanely good at his job.

The Revenant chase

Leonardo DiCaprio is sensational. He may finally win that Oscar after all. And like Matt Damon in The Martian, he finds himself alone in a harsh environment and must summon the will to survive against incredible odds. But unlike Damon, he doesn’t spend the time alone talking to himself. Actually Leo has very few lines in the movie (Like Charlize Theron in Fury Road, or Tom Hardy in the same movie) but DiCaprio makes you feel his pain. Every last bit of it. And there’s a lot to go around.

The Revenant

However for me, Tom Hardy’s is the truly astonishing performance. This is the best I’ve ever seen him. And looking at his credits, he’s consistently good in everything. He is not just the villain of this piece. He is all the negative emotions. He is fear. He is impatience. He is ego. And he is greed. He is amazing in the film. You can hate him sometimes and you can feel sorry for him but you can still fucking hate him. There are two fantastic performances in The Revenant. And while I can possibly live without DiCaprio getting an Oscar, Tom Hardy is the best I’ve seen. He really deserves one.

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Trigger warning. The movie treats women badly. It’s a testosterone fest. The French and European and early American adventurers didn’t bring their wives with them. They instead raped (or sometimes fell in love with) the Native American women they stole from the tribes that they sacked and pillaged along the way. The Revenant is a cruel movie, racist and sexist and awful. Everyone is awful. But so is the land and the weather and the animals. Everyone talks about that bear scene. It’s as bad as they say. But who ever said it was a rape scene is mistaken. The bear is female for one. She’s just protecting her cubs. Again, the movie is very cruel to everything and everyone. No animals excluded.

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio

And while I’m not a big fan of revenge movies, I do love a good survival flick. So to me, The Revenant is less about revenge and more about survival. (survival in order to get some revenge). And there’s some pretty cool survival fantasy shit in this movie. While Matt Damon had his science to help him, Leonardo’s guy has just his will to survive. And he’s a little superhuman at times. And it’s at those times where they lose me. So that’s why I think The Martian is a better movie. But as a fantasy survival revenge western, The Revenant is a gorgeous throwback to the good old days. This is the best gritty western movie since Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Tom Hardy The Revenant

The Revenant is a beautiful movie. Brutally unforgiving and emotionally draining. And even though I want The Martian to win best picture this year, I kind of think The Revenant will beat it by a whisker. The whiskers of a very large and pissed off grizzly bear.

– Mel

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13 thoughts on “Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Revenant

  1. I decided to try and get to the movies more this year and went and saw this yesterday. I really liked it. I loved some of the really intense survival moments. As you said, Leo really makes you feel his character’s pain. Hardy was fantastic too. Visually the whole film looked amazing. Some of the fight scenes (the opening, closing and bear one) were great too. Really enjoyed this one.

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    • Yes. Really intense. That final fight is off the hook. Reminded me of Banshee fights. But the opening battle scene is just plain crazy. He needs to do a war film like Paths of Glory. However that bear fight has no comparison at all anywhere. Incredibly tense. Yeah all three were amazing.

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  2. Wow – you really did like this one! 🙂 Yeah, it was just too brutal for me but I’m a pretty wussy girl. It was good, though. But I got a good laugh after one really brutal scene when the hubby turned to me and said “Road House!” Lol

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    • Yeah. I watched the whole thing with my hands on or near my face and a knot in my stomach. I barely made it through the bear scene. I can’t do horror movies. I get too into it and it becomes a physical problem where I’m gripping my face too hard. It’s bad. I’m pretty much a wuss as well. But with The Revenant everything was just so gorgeous. Even the most brutal scenes are just so beautiful. If horror movie were that pretty I would probably watch them too.

      When I first read your husband’s quote, I read it like Dean Wermer from Animal House. I think it’s the exclamation point. But then I read it like Peter Griffin and it was a lot funnier. You know Dalton would have just ripped that bears throat out… reluctantly. Rrrrrroad House.

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      • Oh, good! I’m not the only face coverer. I prefer to watch violent movies at home where I can put a pillow in front of my face. 😉 I’d say some horror movies are “pretty” in a way. Like The Shining. Oh, the hubby said Road House in the Peter Griffin way. We’ve both been doing that a lot since seeing that Family Guy clip. 😉 I think I remember the bit now! Not actually a gruesome bit but the part where (REVENANT SPOILER) the horse goes off the cliff. Rrrrrroad House.

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      • I don’t really think of The Shining as a horror film. And I don’t mean thrillers or scary movies. I’m talking about gruesome stuff like Saw or Texas ChainSaw Massacre. I can’t even watch those things. I will physically hurt myself. Literally punch myself in the face. I get so wound up. But you know what else I can’t take but to a lesser extent are those scary movies that rely on the SURPRISE. Like it’s quiet quiet quiet quiet BOOM. I can’t stand those because I spend the whole time expecting it and it gives me a stomach ache. I get really into movies.

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      • Lol! You really DO get into movies! I really can’t take the excessively violent ones but I do love a good psychological horror (The Babadook type thing – give me that over those disgusting Saw sequels). I really hate the ones that try to make you jump, though. I’m a jumpy person as it is (too much caffeine) so I don’t really appreciate those stupid jump scares!

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  3. I really want to see this but I don’t. I want to see the acting and directing but I don’t want so much pain and brutality but I do. Oy, so conflicted by these things. I read a book about 20 years ago called Son of the Morning Star about Custer and Sitting Bull, those guys went through some real brutal physical hardship that would have killed you or I or anyone in the 21st century. I think people were just tougher and died earlier.

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    • yeah after seeing this movie you get the feeling that everyone was just tougher back then. Just the cold weather would have gotten me. I’d be like, “I’m out.” It is a great movie though. It really is.

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  4. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I like what you said about the fantasy, there are things that are stretched beyond belief yet the movie sucks me in and I get caught up in it. The times that briefly puledl me out is thinking is this a simple survival and revenge story? That and when Glass went all Luke Skywalker by gutting that horse lol. As great as Leo is in this, it’s hard to deny that Hardy took it to another level. Loved his performance!

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    • Thanks. It’s based on a true story. But it’s based on a story from that time. And you know what happens with stories from that time period. They get told and retold and pretty soon there’s three bears and his horse is flying off that cliff. It’s a great movie. But frankly I just believed The Martian more (and that takes place in the future). I was thinking the same thing with that horse. “And here I thought they smelled bad… on the outside.” And yeah Tom Hardy is impressive.

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      • The Martian presented stuff in a way that sounded scientifically plausible (whether it is or not I don’t know), like slingshot around earth back to mars, and a character had a supercomputer to back up the calculations. I think The Martian is a tighter movie, but I’d give the edge to The Revenant to take home the best picture Oscar.

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