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The Revenant (Blu-ray Review)

revanantSo Leonardo DiCaprio has done it. He has won his Oscar for The Revenant, a film that was incredibly challenging to make and was also awarded Oscars for its terrific cinematography and the directing efforts of Alejandro G. Inarrittu. Now the film has arrived on Blu-ray, with plenty to take in, as far as the visual accomplishments of this film are concerned. See what you are in for, aside from a giant bear attack in this Blu-ray package.

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Film:

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Based on true events, this story is set in the uncharted portions of the American wilderness of 1823. DiCaprio is Hugh Glass a frontiersman and the kind of skilled white man who is better than all the natives he has lived among. He is a part of a hunting team who has been attacked by the natives, forcing Glass and the gang to head back to their fortified settlement.

Much like Birdman, Inarritu has brought on cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to film his frontier opus and to utilize many skilled, long takes. The attack that opens this film is about as impressive as anything Inarritu has ever done in terms of the beauty, complexity and visceral nature of the scene. The tension continues to fluctuate between suspense and giant craziness, as this is not a film set to make things easy for the characters.

The major aspect that sets this story up is a bear attack. Glass is severely mauled by a bear, which makes the others question how to handle him. Chief among those who want to leave Glass behind is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a man only looking out for himself and the money he believes he is owed. The group’s leader, Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), admires Glass, but also has hesitation over what to do. It should be noted that Glass also has a son (Forrest Goodluck) and Will Poulter is around as the mountain man Jim Bridger.

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Actions take place that turn The Revenant into a revenge story and that is basically all the thematic depth we are left with, as we watch Glass go through hell to come after Fitzgerald. At two and a half hours, The Revenant is not a film that wastes time, but it does want viewers to sit in anguish as they watch the trials Glass, among others, is forced to go through. The amount of punishment this man takes would almost make this movie a dark comedy, were things not so sternly serious throughout.

After filming for nearly a year and reports of the level of commitment DiCaprio had for the role (he ate raw bison liver), there is a bit of thought that the film functions as a performance piece representing what DiCaprio has gone through throughout his career to prove his standing. Not that he needs to (we are well aware of how good an actor he can be, Oscar-winner or not), but he puts his all in a performance that does not even allow him to speak very much.

So does this make a great film? Well the movie is certainly absorbing and uncompromising in its portrayal of the harsh environment. The performances from everyone are quite strong. And then you have the look of this movie, which is so obviously impeccable. It just becomes a shame that there is really little to look back on when it comes to examining what it all meant. It is a bit of a double-standard in some ways for me, given how I generally praise similar films that have shockingly simple stories. However, films of this ilk that I appreciate more generally have something going on that attracts me to the results in a more substantial way.

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The Revenant is honestly not a film I think I would want to revisit often, despite how incredible it is from a filmmaking perspective. It is engaging in the moment, but it is not very fun to watch and frankly quite shallow. One can hope that makes sense, because some of the very engaging dramas that have arrived last year left an impression that suggests I could enjoy returning to those worlds more.

Regardless, this is a strong film for the reasons I have explained and as far as showing me some things I have not seen before.  It is a bit of a surprise that this film was not deeper, but the structure really does not allow for much other thought, no matter how many introspective moments we have of Glass reflecting on his relationship with the natives and the environment, let alone images of his dead wife that are supposed to be seen as ‘deep’.

If you want a movie that can get your pulse pounding and allow you to gaze at the beauty of the American frontier, while watching one man slowly go after justice, this is a film to seek out.  The struggle of Glass can be hard to watch, but it is a beauty to behold and a testament to Inarritu as a filmmaker, who has not chosen to make things easy for himself or others involved. And please Leo, take a warm vacation.

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: You can only imagine how great the 4K Blu-ray for this film looks, but take pride in knowing your copy of The Revenant on Blu-ray will look fantastic. Crystal clear imagery is present throughout this film, whether in the dark or in the light. Great care has been put into seeing this film get a proper transfer. There is a rich level of detail in found in all the richly composed shots and on top of all that, this movie is full of snow, which most know I love to see on Blu-ray.

Depth: Movements are smooth and always play well with the background and foreground elements.

Black Levels: Black levels are rich, deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: Given the setting, broad colors are not in ample supply, but the ones we do see come in with all the richness you would hope. The trees, water and more all pop here.

Flesh Tones: The facial textures are wonderful, especially given all the intense close-ups we receive.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: The lossless 7.1 audio track is simply amazing. You get to take in all the different levels of sound design created for this film and it is pretty incredible. The score, the action, the frontier noises and more all make their way through your speakers and nothing ever feels off.

Low Frequency Extension: Key action moments, especially ones involving water, play well with the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is a great use of all the channels to properly immerse you in the world created by this film. You may not feel as beat up as Glass, but you certainly can feel all he goes through better, thanks to the terrific surround presentation.

Dialogue Reproduction: Of the dialogue there is, whether it is snarled or just grunts, you can hear it loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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Given the roundup of all the behind the scenes footage for how shooting various complicated scenes were accomplished, it is a shame that we get almost none of that or a commentary. Instead, we have a pretty decent doc and some set images.

Features Include:

  • A World Unseen Documentary (HD, 44:04) – A look at the film’s handling of its environment and how the cast and crew responded to being a part of such a project.
  • Gallery (HD)
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film – iTunes and UltraViolet

 

Summary:

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The Revenant was quite the filmmaking undertaking for Innaritu, who went right back to work after Birdman and knocked out another ambitious directorial effort. The results are fairly strong, with added credence coming from DiCaprio and the visuals we get to see in a pretty typical revenge story with aspirations to be stronger thematically, not matter how shallow that ends up feeling. Regardless, this Blu-ray presentation is terrific from a technical standpoint. I only wish there were more extras to enjoy.

 

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

7 Responses to “The Revenant (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Woohoo! Phenomenal flick that should have won Best Picture over Spotlight. Great Blu-ray preso, too bad WEAK extras. Ordered from Fox Connect 2 months ago for $18 and got it four days early. Woohoo again! Wish you would have liked this more. Boohoo!

  2. Brandon Peters

    I’ll take Spotlight over The Revenant by a good long mile.

  3. Brian White

    Really? Why? Spotlight is just a one watch for me. It was good, but not POTY good. IMO

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    As a journalist, I would hope you could see more into a film that celebrates the hard work that goes into research and putting out your thoughts and findings on a subject you are passionate about.

    Of course, if dead floating wife imagery and Leo getting has butt whooped repeatedly is more your speed, then go for it! 🙂

  5. Brian White

    It sounds weird being passionate about what that subject matter that was in Spotlight 🙂

    But yes, dead floating wife imagery is right up my alley as revenge motives always makes my blood curdle and livelihood tick!

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    The subject matter being getting to the truth in a scandal, regardless of the content. Nothing that you’re implying.

  7. Brandon Peters

    For me, I would much rather reach for Spotlight for a rewatch than Revenant. I’m good on Revenant for quite a while after 1 sitting. Trim about 40-45 minutes of the fat off The Revenant and this may be a different story. Spotlight was damn worthy of Best Picture. I also thought Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, Mad Max, The Martian and Room were better than Revenant too.