The Revenant

January is usually the time of year when movie studios dump their junk on the movie going public. Maybe they all need something to write-off because you wonder why they make these movies in the first place. However, some of the movies they release this month are not actual January releases, they’re movies they put out in December, but only in a few theaters so they can be considered for Oscars and other film awards. One such movie comes out today, January 8, “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite this movie being one of the actor’s best performances to date and beautifully shot, it’ almost qualifies as a January junk movie

“The Revenant” is one of those movies where it’s difficult to discuss the plot without giving away spoilers. The trailer to the movie gives away some major plot details, and you can click the video above to see it if you wish. We’ll keep things spoiler free here. All we’ll give away here is that the picture takes place sometime in the 1800s and frontiersman Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is trying to make his way through a brutal frontier during a hard winter. The Indians and wildlife in the area will not make his mission any easier.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four Oscars so far in his career, but has yet to bring home the gold statue. No one would argue that he is not talented. When he received his first nomination for “What’s Easting Gilbert Grape,” people saw how phenomenal he can be when filling a role. His bad luck is that every year there has been someone better and he just did not have that certain extra something to outshine the competition. It’s too early to tell if “The Revenant” will finally turn that around, but chances are he will again go home empty handed. Too bad, he gets so lost in this part that you never even think of him as Leonardo DiCaprio, only as the character.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith once joked how that “The Lord of the Rings” movies was just about people walking. He may now update that joke in reference to “The Revenant.” Most of its two-and-a-half hour running time is just watching people walking. If they’re not walking, then they’re just sitting around. There are some amazing sequences in the movie too, one in particular will be fascinating to see how they did on a DVD extra, but for the most part it can get boring.

The cinematography in “The Revenant” is breathtaking. It’s not much of a surprise since two time Oscar winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki is the one who shot it. He won the award the last two years in a row for “Gravity” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and may very well three-peat this year.

Maybe “The Revenant” was just too deep and those who did not like it felt that it often dragged along didn’t “get it.”  Perhaps. There is a story that is told a few times over in the movie. It goes like this, during a storm, if you stand in front of a tree and look up you will see the tree swaying back and fourth as if it is going to fall over. If you look down at the truck, you will see it is strong and steady. Watching such a tree would be more exciting than watching this movie. It is rated R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory  images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.