Alejandro G. Iñárritu‘s “The Revenant” is an ambitious epic that attempts to be the cinematic masterpiece that “Birdman” was, but falls short.
Shot as beautifully as any film can be by Emmanuel Lubezki, who is gunning for his third Best Cinematography Oscar in a row (he won previously for “Gravity” and “Birdman”), the film is visually stunning; any stills from this film would make a great looking poster.
The performances were terrific. Tom Hardy, was brilliant in playing a truly hateful character. While we as the audience hate him, to a very small extent, we do sympathize with him, as all he did was act out of his own self-interest.
And then there was Leonardo DiCaprio, who, once again, delivers a memorable performance. The amount of physical hardship he had to go through while shooting this film, that alone, deserves tons of props. Despite not being the favorite to win, I would have no problem with him nabbing his first ever Oscar this year.
There were a handful of terrific scenes in the film, highlighted by the Leo character’s fight with the bear (shown in the trailer). These scenes are glimpses of what this film could have been.
So, since I said that the cinematography and the performances were great, what is it that makes “The Revenant” not as good as “Birdman”? The issue has to do with the director. Inarritu has made one of the best films I’ve ever seen in “Birdman,” but he has also made one that I despise, “Babel.” He’s got this mantra of knowing that he’s making a great film and wants to show it to us, throwing all subtlety out the window in the process. With “The Revenant,” it felt like he and Lubezki were indulging so much into creating gorgeous shots that they forgone telling a tighter story. The result was a film that was 15 minutes too long and a plot that wasn’t able to support its length.
And that very last shot… showcased Inarritu’s pompousness at its worst. It was also Leo’s chance to say “look! I’m ready for an Oscar… again!”