Minor spoilers, most of which were already spoiled in this movie’s trailers, incoming.
After watching The Revenant at a recently-upgraded theater near me last week, I had an insatiable craving for meat — blistery-red, fleshy cuts of any animal living or dead. I am not being facetious in any way. This film drove the cinematic experience straight through my carnivorous, male forebrain and polished it with a coating of warm, irony blood on its way down to my gut bag.
Dead serious. On the way home, I took a detour to Meijer’s store-of-everything and sniffed my way to a refrigerated trough of four-dollar-a-pound rib steak. It was a fucking travesty of butchered cow, and I still don’t know how to cook anything besides Suddenly Salad, but the meat’s honest cheapness left room for kitchen experimentation. I picked up four packages of this shit along with a stiff bottle of A.1. hickory sauce to wash it down (just in case).
I have to say, The Revenant does a tremendous job respecting the basic human desires of staying warm, adhering to your contractual agreements, and consuming mystery-protein in a frozen wasteland. I think this movie takes place in the 1700’s, but it honestly could be set in any post-apocalyptic nightmare dreamed up by beaver-skinning distopian malcontents. You, by all your senses, feel the isolated desperation of the characters and what they have to do just to survive…and strangely you also feel the need for a decent farmers almanac.
That reminds me — there were a lot of lingering “weather scenes” in this movie. They are so prevalent, director Alejandro González Iñárritu may have accidentally invented “weather porn,” or something. Yup, just staring at a dull, endless sky; staring at a pale sun struggling through a milky haze; now, we’re on a cliff staring at some sailing clouds. I heard this director only used natural lighting, so maybe he had nothing else to do for stretches of hours but point the camera upwards until he was able to film people.
But getting back to the plot…A mute, hobbled Leonardo DiCaprio actually scrapes frozen strings of rotting rib-meat from a horse, deer, or elk skeleton and slurps it up with glee! He maws on the salty belly of a live hand-caught fish — with gay abandon — just like The Penguin in Batman Returns. DiCaprio (I keep forgetting his character’s name) chomps and gnaws on a dripping, raw buffalo liver while inexplicable fires light his dining experience. He eviscerates a horse’s stomach and — well, there’s actually more to the story than eating. There is actually much more grunting and crawling, but I still couldn’t believe how hungry this movie made me for a medium-rare steak.
While indulging The Revenant, lounging in a leathery La-Z-Boy® in the very top-back row, a senior couple beside me sighed loud, concerning breaths synchronized with every bite, stab, punch, shot, and fall. I wondered: Haven’t they ever seen a thousand-pound bear stomp and batter someone’s head into the dirt, or carve someone’s back with six-inch razor claws like a julienne potato? And even though I enjoyed the movie with all of its meat and weather porn, their audible interruptions really pulled me out of the experience.
That’s when I wish I hadn’t gone to see this sold-out movie on opening day.
Now, I do recommend seeing The Revenant in a decent theater and on the largest screen possible. Total immersion into this voluminous world is a mindfuck I haven’t experienced since watching The Wicker Man (2006). Just wait until it’s almost ready to be excised from your local cinema to make way for some generic, anthropomorphized animated feature, or another defecated reboot and/or remake.
You should work towards being as isolated, hungry, and cold as possible to help induce the movie’s effects. Do not bring your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.; be the one who sees The Revenant on a random Sunday at noon just because you’re bored and you were too lazy to call anyone. Sit in a corner if you have to.
I really encourage you to think about that. Months later, if you have to watch it at home instead of a dark theater, and there are any distractions or common city noises, I guarantee you will enjoy this movie much less.
The Revenant deserves your complete attention for the potential experience — not its individual parts. The actors are very good, and I won’t name them all because they’re on IMDB. The music takes a backseat to stunning visuals. The story is predictable and not without some superfluous flashbacks(?) about Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife and kid. I still don’t know what the hell that was all about after the tenth dream/vision/near-death experience. Maybe it was meant to be confusing…but could it be a slick metaphor for a man’s struggle to obtain an unreachable goal? I could give a shit less, really.
That’s why I wish there were more fights! So far, I remember a lot of visions, meat, and inclement weather, but I really wanted to see more massive unbridled deathmatches.
There is a huge, skull-cracking battle between some wayward beaver trappers and the local Native Americans at the beginning of the movie. Then there’s a bear attack. It was all bloody well-done: the perfect catalyst to an entire misadventure. And then DiCaprio is buried alive, and you hope he gets his revenge on the man who betrayed him, but there seems to be much less driving action and intensity afterwards. It sort of felt unbalanced in the end…almost depressing, but I enjoyed it enough for a revenge tale.
Speaking about being unbalanced — as in a “dead” person who cannot stand or walk on both legs — I cannot leave until I mention The Revenant’s most ridiculous scenario.
Yes, DiCaprio is graced with a miracle recovery exceeding Bruce Wayne’s healed broken back via “prison-punch therapy” in The Dark Knight Rises. The man’s ankle seems like it was twisted and busted into Misery-level incapacitation. We get many pristine views of DiCaprio’s dragging leg; and there is no way, especially for a movie loosely based on a real story set in historic times, that anyone would believe that he could almost totally unfuck his foot just by eating a few thousand calories and “staying off of it” for a few miles.
The difference with Bruce Wayne is that he was also Batman in a semi-fictional comic book universe, and we never actually see details of his internal back injury on-screen. Wayne also received specific medical attention for his back, even if it was absurd and not approved by the American Chiropractic Association. However, DiCaprio painstakingly lugs his leg around for a straight hour of run-time, crawling his way through frozen snow and earth. He had numerous gushing wounds, exhausting blood loss, ground beef for a throat, and infectious ooze squeezing from his makeshift stitches.
Alright! Time to make that steak!
I give The Revenant a solid MEAT/10.