“Wars are not won by evacuation…”
Leonardo di Caprio goads the academy with another breathtaking performance…
How unusual is it for the one of the best films of the year to be released only two weeks in? The Revenant is due to hit cinemas on the 15th of January in the UK and it is difficult to imagine too many superior films coming out next year.
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s previous film Birdman is not actually that indicative of his earlier work. 21 Grams and Babel are long, studied takes on faith, death and loss and The Revenant is a startling return to those themes.
Whilst 21 Grams and Babel were both visually stunning, Iñárritu failed to match the lofty ideas and visuals with a compelling story line, rendering both films quite a difficult, if rewarding, viewing experience.
On The Revenant everything has come together beautifully for Iñárritu and his astonishing cast. Tom Hardy is an actor in the prime of his career at the moment and in a year of excellent performances, The Revenant is his best. Barely recognizable as the Bill to DiCaprio’s The Bride, Hardy is a grotesque, barely intelligible figure.
His co-star Leonardo DiCaprio is also in a sparkling run of form in recent years. His last five films: The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby, Django Unchained, J. Edgar and Inception. Wow. However I am actually not massively surprised that Leo hasn’t won an Oscar during this run. As compelling as the performances were, his last three roles are very similar. We know that Leo can play a Jordan Belfort or a Jay Gatsby.
His performance here though is a thing of beauty. DiCaprio conveys more emotion with barely any dialogue than anything he has appeared in since Blood Diamond. Combined with Hardy’s career best turn, yet another strong performance from Domhnall Gleeson and a breakout performance from Will Poulter and you are left with a show stopping and incredibly disparate set of characters and actors.
Visually The Revenant is awe inspiring. The scenery is harsh but constantly beautiful and the CGI whilst used sparingly is unforgettable. One scene in particular will be remembered for years to come but I don’t want to spoil it here…
The Revenant is a director, and various actors, at the very top of their games, with a simple yet effective story, and a clear but harsh message of faith and forgiveness.
A heavy metal apocalypse…
36 years after the original Mad Max, director George Miller returns to the iconic franchise for an update. As reboots go Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the most successful since Batman Begins in 2005. As with Nolan’s dark, gritty take on the dark knight, Miller refuses to tell the same story again with Fury Road a totally different story to the original Mad Max.
The world presented in Mad Max: Fury Road is nightmarish and obsessed with violence and greed whilst still remaining vibrant and colourful. The landscapes are so pronounced as to almost be overbearing but the star power of Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron brings the human element of the story into sharp focus. Nicolas Hoult also impresses in an unrecognisable turn as Nux further cementing his position as one of Britain’s top actors.
While Hardy, Theron et al are very good it is the action sequences that are the real star of Fury Road. Imagine the car chase sequence from Blues Brothers but two hours long and set in a desert occupied by Tolkien’s murderous Orc’s and you are somewhere close to the constant high octane action that courses through Fury Road.
Underneath all the explosions and violence though there is a number of high quality performances, some stunning visual flair and cinematography and a memorable and fitting soundtrack. In this reboot Miller has created one of the most successful reboots and one of the best out and out action films in years.
George Miller’s last film before Fury Road was Happy Feet 2 in 2011. Happy Feet 3 should be interesting…