This movie is a testament to when things just keep getting worse. The first scene of the movie has a group of 45 guys hunting for pelts. Then a group of Native Americans attack and they are reduced to 10. Then Hugh glass, Leonardo diCaprio’s character, visits the fair and orders a bunch of Bear Claws, a weird change of pace for the rest of the movie, but turns out, since Bear Claws hadn’t been invented yet, the people of the 1800s can only take him literally and so Leo takes a whole bear to the face to near-lethal consequence. After this, since things weren’t hard enough for Leo, he’s found by his crew, they decide NOT to kill him, but then he’s abandoned for dead anyway, but after failing to die, crawls across the wilderness in order to survive. And maybe get revenge for being abandoned and his son murdered in the process.
This is based on a “true” story. That is to say that it’s actually based on a story told by Hugh Glass himself to people he met in bars during his travels. It was just word of mouth tales, one of the people listening wrote it into a short story that was published in a trade magazine. Then it was rewritten over and over again forever, and now here it is rewritten again. There’s no telling how many creative elements have been added by this story’s many authors but we do know that all the people in this story were real people. I think it’s ironic, since the story is most likely not true, that the director chose to make this movie as realistically as possible, even going so far as to forgo the use of using any lighting. Yes only the sun was used in this movie and maybe a campfire or two. Is does make everything eerily realistic to a very dramatic effect.
For the most part, this movie was very good. There’s something to be said about survival movies though and that’s that parts of it can be boring. I suppose you could say that in any genre of film. That they might fall easily into the cliches of said genre. But in survival films there’s something that always has to be in there and that’s showing the character or characters actually surviving. We have to watch them as they find food, learn how to traverse the particular elements of their situation, figure out how to use a toilet without plumbing, you know, surviving. I mean, there’s really nothing to be done about it, you need those scenes, but at the same time I’m tired of them. Hmm, guess it’s just a Catch-22 and I shouldn’t talk about it anymore.
What I didn’t like about this movie is it’s incredibly slow from just after the bear scene to the end of the movie. Even the scenes showing excitement felt slow. How can they do that? Has someone working on this movie been watching the Towering Inferno? Another movie that would have greatly benefit from a swifter pace.
This review is getting kind of long but I’m not done complaining yet! They shoehorned in a son for Glass, even though he never had one in real life, just so he could be murdered and color the revenge angle of the story a bit. After he died, I forgot about him and probably wouldn’t complain about him since I forgot he was even a character. But the movie just kept reminding me that they added this plot element with flashbacks, and a dream sequence. There’s another thing, don’t use dream sequences in your movie unless, like anything you put in your movie, IT MOVES THE PLOT FORWARD! Please, it just distracts from the story and doesn’t do anything. If you’re a TV writer, don’t make a dream sequence an entire episode, unless, and I don’t take this lightly, it’s incredibly funny.
Also, I didn’t like the rest of Glass’s crew, I know they were important to the plot, but we don’t need to cut back to them after they betray Glass. Their story is explained when Glass catches up to them anyway so it wasn’t necessary to chronicle their story after that point. Glass’s story is much more interesting, and if you stay with him the whole time and only show his perspective you get more of a sense of what it feels like to be a survivor. Because they don’t do that Glass’s survival isn’t the front runner in this story like it should have been. Instead it has this somewhat disjointed survivor-revenge movie wherein what they should have done is have the survivor part then the revenge part rather than keep switching between the two. Or just keep one of the two and scrap the other. Either way, I think it would have made for a more complete plot and kept a consistent tone, both of which this movie was somewhat lacking in.
Why you should watch it before you die: Everything was beautifully shot and they only used natural lighting throughout the movie (aside from one scene). Something I don’t think many directors would have the patience to do. I’m glad they did it here to only add to the realism of an already hyper-realistic movie.