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The Revenant

No one told me that the red line was running shuttle buses every weekend in January, or I wouldn't have spent so much time on that morning's failed hair experiment. Then I maybe would have gotten to the movie on time. Instead, I picked up my ticket just after the cutoff where they don't give you a real ticket, but say that you're late. The ticket taker guy pretty much knows me by now, so he let me in. I missed the first five or so minutes, so it took me a while to piece together all the context. I was also relegated to the front section of the theater, which turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. I was at least fortunate enough to get a very center seat in the dreaded second row, and the angle was perfect for leaning my head back without neck strain (and the experimental hair wouldn't have been conducive to that, so another win). That wasn't the great part of it. The great part was that being so close up gave me a full size widescreen view that fit exactly into my line of vision, so it was like having my own private IMAX without paying stupid fees for the supposed upcharge. That was the win. Especially for such a beautifully done piece of visual cinematic art like this film.

Directed by Birdman helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu , Leonardo DiCaprio (having found yet another Academy Award winning director to work with) stars as Hugh Glass, a man from the early 19th century guiding a fur trapping expedition. He's viciously mauled by a bear, and subsequently sees his son murdered in front of him before being left for dead himself. With an unshakable newfound will to live and a steady eye on vengeance, he undertakes the 200 mile journey on foot in his weakened state to rejoin his men and see his justice carried out.

Before I start waxing poetic about Iñárritu, DiCaprio, and this beautiful film, I have one small disclaimer to throw out there. Most of the time, I tend to focus on the entertainment value of a film. This is not one of those. Yes, it's an utterly captivating film and impeccably done at that, but this isn't the movie you go see when you just wanna hang with the guys/girls after grabbing a burger and a beer. It's long and slow moving, and therefore not to be undertaken lightly. However, if you are looking for a film to have a deeper experience with, carry on then.

Regardless of how it all came together, this film is a marvel simply for the giant undertaking that it was. The entire thing was filmed on location in some of the coldest parts of the planet. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (also coming off an Oscar win for Birdman and Gravity before that) insisted on only using natural light. This meant that there were only a few precious hours every day where filming was even possible. Thankfully Iñárritu is no stranger to the high pressure around getting the perfect shot (again, see Birdman).

For the majority of the film, Leo is the only person on screen. The boy practically vanished from Hollywood for 9 months to shoot this, enduring many physical trials. Seriously, the boy has never put himself thru anything remotely like this. Throughout, I kept on cheering in my head "Go Leo! Win that Oscar!" because really, what else is it gonna take? As much as I love him as an internet meme, the boy is due, but I'm sure we'll be expanding on this conversation in a few weeks.

But he's not the only one in the movie. Tom Hardy is winning Oscar buzz as the baddie that is not a grizzly bear. I never thought I'd find myself hating Hardy (his character, still love the man), but I just felt rage throughout towards him. Also featured were a couple guys who have been on the rise lately: Will Poulter and Domnhall Gleeson. Their ascent can only be helped by the strong work turned in from both.

So ultimately it was a filmmaking gamble that paid off in the best possible way. You will not find another movie like this, and it should be experienced and approached with reverence and respect. I expect we'll be hearing a lot more about this movie in the next couple weeks as awards season kicks into high gear

The Revenant - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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