I went into The Revenant with managed expectations, and I came out feeling a mixture of profound disappointment and anger.
Leonardo DiCaprio? Check. Badass action? Check. Dramatic tension? Check. Tom Hardy? Check.
Yet despite all of this, the movie managed to waste nearly 3 hours of my life and fuck me sideways with my overpriced popcorn. My full review of The Revenant is below, but beware, it might cause a mid-life crisis for you if you previously enjoyed this wannabe masterpiece.
The Tracking Shot Failure
I’m a pretty big fan of tracking shots when they’re used sparingly and effectively. They can make whatever’s on screen feel more visceral, intense, and straight up cool. However, tracking shots have some serious drawbacks, and The Revenant doesn’t even try to work around them. You can call it artistic vision, you can call it a mistake, I’m going to call it:
BORING AS FUCK
Almost every action scene in The Revenant is boring as fuck because of its reliance on tracking shots. It feels like the director isn’t guiding you eyeballs across the screen, instead, he’s presenting a painting and leaving you to analyze it. While this approach is respectable in theory, the end product is frustrating. You obviously don’t sit in front of movies and stare at the same shot for five minutes. Everything’s always moving.
As a result of this, action scenes in The Revenant lose their impact and make it difficult to focus on the curious things happening on screen. I don’t go to the theater to play Where’s Waldo.
Most action movies get rightfully panned for having too many nonsensical quick cuts, and The Revenant commits the same sin, just in the opposite direction.
The Story Is a Joke
Some movies don’t need a grand story, like Mad Max: Fury Road for example. But if you’re going to have a 2h 36m runtime, there better be a reason for it. Do you need that much time to blast my eyeballs with cool shit? Or maybe you’re going to make me think about something deep and meaningful? Alright, no problem.
However, The Revenant’s story is as simple as it gets. It’s a revenge plot with virtually no character development. Bitch please.
When you couple this with how boring the whole ordeal is, there’s no excuse for the film to be so goddamn long. True story: Abhishek was asleep for about 90% of the movie when we saw it, and yet he was still able to recite every major event. That’s just ridiculous and portrays how hollow this film is.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the generic visions. Holy shit, that was such an unnecessary element. We get it. Your movie is being symbolic. Cheers.
Was The Revenant Made by Humans?
If I had to describe the movie in one sentence it would sound like this:
“The Revenant feels like it was made by a sophisticated AI trying to figure out what human beings find entertaining.”
It doesn’t matter if you have a kick ass cast, it doesn’t matter how hard your movie was to shoot, it doesn’t matter what the marketing hype machine says, and it doesn’t matter if your film has a few moments of brilliance. What matters is the overall end product.
I’m angry that this movie wasted so much of my time, and I’m genuinely disappointed that it didn’t turn out better. But hey, there’s a bright side to everything, Leo might finally win an Oscar. Hooray for celebrity worship!
1 out of 5 Rickety Pixels.