Revenant Might 'Blow Your Mind'
It's beautiful, primal, raw, say critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2015 10:20 AM CST

(Newser) – Leonardo DiCaprio plays 1820s frontier legend Hugh Glass who runs afoul of a grizzly bear and is left for dead in The Revenant. Thankfully, he survives to put on an epic, yet gory show en route to revenge. Early reports claimed Leo has this year's best male actor Oscar in the bag. Do critics agree?

  • Alejandro Iñárritu's follow-up to Birdman "features a battalion of very fine, hardworking actors, none more diligently committed than Mr. DiCaprio," writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. "Iñárritu isn't content to merely seduce you with ecstatic beauty and annihilating terror; he wants to blow your mind," and at times he succeeds. But then he "blows it when he moves from the material to the mystical and tries to elevate an ugly story into a spiritual one."
  • "Few heroes in movie history have endured more torment than this one," and "in a role with little dialogue, Mr. DiCaprio summons up impressive resources to convey the horror of Glass's plight," writes Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal. But "everything screams primal in The Revenant—the lethal force of a wild animal, the savagery of man against man, the sustaining power of revenge," he adds. "I came out of this would-be epic feeling physically exhausted, psychically mauled, and none the better for wear."

  • The flick isn't for everyone, "but for those to whom the subject matter appeals, it will be among 2015's most memorable theatrical options," writes James Berardinelli at ReelViews. It's "a more visceral and devastating look at seemingly impossible survival than even The Martian," and features "gorgeous cinematography." Its subdued nature also helps showcase "the most raw, primal performance DiCaprio has ever given." A warning: the bear scene may be too bloody for some.
  • But bear the suffering and you'll be rewarded with "the power of cinema unleashed," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. "Surviving nature is Iñárritu's subject, and he delivers with magisterial brilliance," while DiCaprio supplies "a virtuoso performance, thrilling in its brute force and silent eloquence." Travers can't help but mention that bear scene. "The bear is a product of an expert visual-effects team. But not for a second will you doubt you're seeing the real thing," he writes. "This is one for the time capsule."