HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Revenant
HTS Overall Score:90
It looks like Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY won an Oscar, and honestly I have to say it couldn’t go to a more deserving guy. The actor who was universally loved or hated during his younger years was looking straight in the face of abyss of obsolescence. A curse that befalls many a young heart throb. His acting was stale and his movie roles were starting to dry up. However, with age comes maturity, and that is certainly the case with Leo. Much like Ben Affleck, the laughed at actor began taking more and more roles that stretched his comfort and demanded more of him, and the good looking boy began to turn into a man. A man with a surprisingly well honed set of acting talents. Over the years he has turned in many a great role, some that REALLY should have earned him an academy award. However, much like Martin Scorsese, Leo was passed over time and time again. That is until 2015 when “The Revenant” finally nailed him that coveted award. Ironically, much like Martin Scorsese winning the role as best director in “The Departed”, I feel like his role in “The Revenant” was given because Leo had been passed over so many times rather than his portrayal of Hugh Glass being THAT good. Not to say that his role was bad. In fact it was excellent and gave us a side of Leo that we haven’t seen before. However, much like the movie itself, Leo’s role was really good, just bordering on greatness, but somehow just BARELY missing that mark.
Taken from the novel written by Michael Punke, “The Revenant” takes the real life tale of Hugh Glass (played by Leo in this film) and fictionalizes it a bit. From what I can gather in my research, “The Revenant” seems to blend several adventuress taken from the life of the famous explorer and blended them into one tale. Here Glass is leading a group of hunters who are taking pelts under the direction of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) only to be ambushed by a band of Native Americans who are searching for their chief’s kidnapped daughter. Barely escaping with their lives, the group of 33 turned 9 runs for their very lives back to their home, peltless. Searching ahead for a way back void of chasing Indians, Hugh Glass is mauled by a giant grizzly bear, leaving him on the verge of death. Captain Henry refuses to give up on their guide and hauls the man as far as he can, despite the protestations of one John Fitzgerald. A beast of a man who seems to have very little qualms about leaving their guide to die in the snow. Realizing that they can’t make it with Glass weighing them down, 3 men volunteer to stay behind and let Glass die in peace. These three men include the guide’s Indian son, as well as John Fitzgerald.
Betrayed by Fitzgerald, Glass is left to die and his son murdered in front of his delirious eyes. While Fitzgerald and a young boy named Bridger (Will Poulter) make their way back to the fort, the barely conscious guide struggles out of his state of being and uses nothing but the sheer force of will to power him forward. If it was tough for healthy men on horses to make it back, it’s nothing short of sheer mind over matter that allows Glass to make his way back. Along the way he encounters a Pawnee warrior who tends to his mauling, as well as comes face to face with the men who kidnapped the raiding party’s daughter that got them IN this situation in the first place. All of this is done with one goal in mind. Find Fitzgerald and make him pay for the betrayal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69010[/img]“The Revenant” is a surprisingly laid back sort of film. Once the horrible mauling occurs and the inevitable (heavily fore shadowed) betrayal by Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy trying his best with an American western accent) the movie takes a much more sluggish and methodical pace. This huge midsection of the film is really a tale of man vs. wild, with Glass using every ounce of strength and hatred in his bones to propel him forward. The themes of nature are apparent as you can see the cinematography focusing in on all sorts of imagery that tends to feel almost poetic in nature. You really can’t describe what happens in terms of plot, but rather watch it unfold as Glass tends to his wounds, recovers as best he can and use everything at his disposal to stay alive. Including eating raw fish, buffalo and even bits of rotten marrow from a stripped carcass.
I also have to say that while “The Revenant” is a beautiful film, showing the blending of man and nature together, but it also is a tough film to sit through at times. The bouts of misery and struggle in the wild is punctuated with scenes of terrific brutality. Showing no mercy, Glass hacks and slashes his way through is opposition, leaving nothing to imagination as to his tactics. Axes slice off fingers with huge sprays of arterial blood loss, and human scalps being peeled from the skull. It never falls into the over the top nature of someone like Quentin Tarantino, but the film does not shy away from showing the gruesome and uncomfortable truths needed to survive in an environment where people and nature are trying to kill you.
What makes the story slightly unique is the way in which Glass interacts with people. While he has no qualms about killing to stay alive, there is a sort of symbiotic relationship between the land and himself, as well as the native people. It’s been heavily argued about the real life glass having a half breed Pawnee son, but in the film it shows his respect for the Native Americans as well as the understanding that his Anglican culture is very different from the Natives, and that the clash of cultures can sometimes lead to them switching sides.
Leonardo DiCaprio once again gives a magnificent performance, but, much like the movie, feels like it’s hovering on the verge of greatness without actually achieving that status. “The Revenant” is an epic film that certainly strives to be one of the greats, and I have to say that it almost gains that label. It is a haunting and brutally blunt man vs. nature/revenge film, and had me on the edge of my seat more than once. However the story seems to hover just on the verge of making one say “wow! That was AMAZING”! The middle act goes on a bit too long and some of the events actually made the logical portion of my brain start to go haywire. A trip that took Glass a week, maybe more, to accomplish would NEVER have allowed his wounds to heal as quickly as they did, or allow him the mobility and strength to accomplish some of his feats (such as fighting Indians on horseback, and diving over a cliff without tearing open wounds and bleeding out. In a sense it feels like mythical story, allowing Hugh Glass to ascent to an almost Chuck Norris level of skill and prowess. Those little things robbed the film of the intensity and realism that it was so close to achieving.
Rated R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69018[/img]Shot entirely on an array of Arri Alexa cameras, the film was taken from a 3.4k and 6k source and transferred to a 4K master that is used for both this release as well as the day and date drop of the 4K UltraHD Blu-ray as well. To put it simply, this is one of THE best Blu-ray transfers that I have seen in my life. Everything about it just screams perfection in ways that makes me want to rate some of my earlier demo discs down a little bit just to accommodate the beauty shown here. The disc is simply flawless from beginning to end, with no signs of digital anomalies or any compression issues from 20th Century Fox studios. The digital cinematography captures the incredibly haunting beauty of the snowy landscape that Glass has to cross with pinpoint accurate colors and a razor sharp image that never loses focus or shows a hint softness. The details are just incredible, with every drop of blood on the brilliantly white snow contrasting with the deep maroon of the liquid. Individual leaves and bits of debris show up on the white background with amazing clarity and I even had to notice the fake “studio” scars and wounds because the film is just THAT clear. Black levels are intensely black without sacrificing detail, and the rich color saturation makes the film seem as if you could just reach through the screen and touch the characters on the other side. To put it succinctly. AMAZING!
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69026[/img]The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track in English is pulling no punches either, and can stand up to the perfect video encode with pride. I like to comment on directionality and channel separation in my reviews, but I have to harp on it right here as the channel separation and clear individual directional changes in the audio track are something to truly marvel at. Every single sound in the movie is distinctly clear and nuanced, with its own texture and sound, but also incredibly detailed in the soundstage to the point where I was glancing over my shoulder as a whisper to “halt” comes from behind and to the right. Or listening to an arrow slam into a frontiersman with a sickening “thump” on one side of the scream, while hearing a Native American battle cry coming from the left as they try and flank the survivors. Dialog is never an issue (except for a few mumbled accents, which is no fault of the mix), and the LFE is truly punishing as an avalanche rumbles in the background, or the pounding score throbs with a vicious low end. The surrounds are in constant use, showing off all 8 channels with incredibly detailed and precise background noises.
• A World Unseen
“The Revenant” is a strange combination of Nature film, survival film, and Revenge flick all rolled into one. Leo once again proves that just because you were a teen heart throb doesn’t mean you can’t mature into something greater than his superficial beginnings. The result is an excellent film whose only flaw was a little embellishment and pushing the boundaries of believablility a bit too much. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the 2 hour and 36 minute film just seems to glide on by and seem like a much shorter movie. Audio and video are nothing short of immaculately perfect, and the minimal extras are really the only thing that I truly have a problem with. Especially considering that it is an Academy award winning film on multiple counts. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 156 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 19th 2016
Buy The Revenant On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Revenant On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Definitely Recommended
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