The Revenant 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
THE REVENANT will forever be known as the film that got Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar. After several blatant Oscar snubs and near-misses, Leo finally got his due with THE REVENANT and rightfully so. But what’s get lost in the talk about Leo’s Oscar is the brilliant and daring work of director Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who also won Oscars for their work. THE REVENANT is not Leonardo DiCaprio’s best movie or even his best performance, but it’s a technically impressive film that somehow managed to break new ground.
DiCaprio is Hugh Glass, an 1820’s freelance tracker working with a group of fur traders on an expedition. When his group is attacked by Native Americans, Glass attempts to lead them to safety, only to be mauled by a bear. Left for dead, Glass witnesses John (Hardy) kill his son. Miraculously, Glass manages to recover from the severe wounds to make his way across the hostile wilderness, driven by a thirst for revenge on the group that killed his son and left him for dead.
THE REVENANT isn’t so much about what happens on the screen but it’s more about how it happens. We’ve seen these types of revenge movies before and we’ve even seen man versus nature movies before, but we’ve never seen anything quite like this. Inarritu famously used natural light for every scene and that gives a natural, realistic tone to the film. Somehow, relying on the natural light allows the audience to be drawn into the film and suffer right along with Glass. It was also clear that the actors were miserable in the harsh conditions. Sure, part of it is great acting, but a lot of it is Inarritu thrusting his actors into the hostile environment and forcing them to rely on their acting ability rather than camera tricks or a great script.
All the innovative directing in the world isn’t going to save your film if you don’t have actors that can pull it off. Thankfully, Innaritu managed to get two of the best actors working today to reteam and neither of them disappointed. Leo will get all the credit, but Tom Hardy was great as the rugged frontiersman John Fitzgerald. Hardy loves his voices, but this time it really works and he consistently delivers. Domhnall Gleeson gets overlooked since the focus is on the two titans battling it out, but Gleeson once again delivers a strong performance and manages to hold his own against Hardy and DiCaprio. But you can’t shortchange Leonardo DiCaprio; he nails every scene in THE REVENANT. He owns this movie and almost dares the Academy not to reward him for his efforts.
As much as I respect THE REVENANT, the fact remains that I didn’t actually enjoy the film. I was mesmerized by the masterful direction of Innaritu, but I wasn’t necessarily entertained by what happened on screen. But being entertained is almost secondary because of how incredible the performances were and how mesmerizing Innaritu’s direction was. After two consecutive Best Director Oscars, Innaritu is clearly one of the best directors working today. And even if you’re not a fan of his films, you can’t deny that he’s one of the only directors willing to take risks with how he films his movies, which is impressive in today’s cookie-cutter Hollywood.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: DVD and Blu-ray owners of THE REVENANT are no doubt going to complain about the subdued colors in the film. That’s one of the drawbacks of using natural light. But the 4K UHD owners will be pleasantly surprised by the level of color and detail you can discern in the film thanks to the clarity of the format. I remember watching the scene where the surviving group members get off their boats and climb up a muddy hill and thinking how dark and saturated the colors were. That same scene on UHD bursts with clarity and rather than the colors (various shades of brown and grey) running together, the different shades are clearly visible. The entire transfer is beautiful and I assume that’s in large part to the transfer being sourced from the native 4K master.
Audio: The audio was fine.
A World Unseen (44:01): I was fascinated to learn more about Innaritu’s techniques and this feature gives us a little more insight to how he pulled it off. We also get some nice behind the scenes footage and your standard cast and crew interviews.