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Review #247, Movie #318

Year Of Release



Shawn Levy


Shawn Levy, Susan Montford, Don Murphy


John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Levin, Richard Matheson


Danny Elfman


Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Olga Fonda, James Rebhorn and Kevin Durand

Robots have replaced humans in blood sports, and in 2020 Charlie Kenton, an ex-boxer, is competing in the world of Robotic Fighting.
Charlie though is a bit of a loser. His robots suck, his judgement is almost non-existent and he’s in serious debt with various nasty-types.
He has a Son though, called Max… whom he never sees… and Max’s Mother has just died. Instead of trying to become a Father though, Charlie happily signs Max over to Max’s Aunt and her well-to-do Hubby for straight up cash.
Only, Aunty and Uncle are going on an expensive posh holiday and having a kid in tow would simply not do… so they leave Max and Charlie alone together for a few weeks… and Max, under the guidance of Charlie, comes across an old, beat-up, rusty and dented sparring-bot called ATOM.

I love this film.
I called it a guilty pleasure, but there’s no guilt in it at all. It’s simply, well… I love this film.
It’s a typical sort of feel good affair with one or two hits of peril occasionally, and it’s pretty predictable.
Put simply, this is like Rocky and Karate Kid, with a new theme of robots and gears getting knocked all over the boxing ring instead of blood and sweat.
Real Steel is fun, exciting, well-paced and even had me tear up during the finale.
What’s good with this movie is the writing. Sure, ok, it’s predictable… but the writing makes you care for the characters involved.
They’re funny, gritty at times, cross slightly into comic (especially Kevin Durand, in a good way though), and most of all they’re believeable.
It draws the viewer into the world around them, and makes the peril and laughter all the more enjoyable.
Another thing I liked, is the writing behind our lead robot, ATOM. Is he sentient? Isn’t he? Is he just shadowing? Are we reading too much into his autonomous behaviour?
Awesome stuff.
What backs the simplistic and well-done story, is the acting.
Hugh Jackman as Charlie is absolutely brilliant. Perfect as the rough, not-good Dad… and has the physicality that matches the ex-boxer character. Jackman’s natural charisma and at times machismo hold the viewer to the screen at all times. He’s faultless. And when the finale is underway, Jackman seriously outshines everyone else. You can see he’s having fun.
Dakota Goyo as Max too is perfect casting. Another actor you can really see enjoying himself and getting a massive high from all the attention the character is receiving. He’s also pretty apt with some of the physical stuff when he’s dancing in front of about 2000 people.
Goyo though holds the emotional side of things too. There are a few times he’s in tears, both good and bad, and he plays it brilliantly.
Evangeline Lilly as Charlie’s missus, Baily Tallet, is good if seldom seen, but she’s able to bring out a softer side to Jackman when seen together and her chemistry with Goyo is tops. She’s also an emotional heavyweight in the finale too.
The rest of the cast are more background characters, and Kevin Durand plays a slime ball who gets his comeuppance.
The effects and action of the movie are absolutely banging-top-drawer stuff.
The choreography of the fights it awesomely exciting and heart pounding. A lot of the excitement is from loving the characters, and having an connection to ATOM too, but it’s also a combination of things from the music (Danny Elfman going totally against type, in a good way), effects, choreography and style.
The final fight, especially when Jackman take the controls manually, is that part which had me in tears. The lead ups to this scene/sequence, with all the above successes in writing and so on, combined with the score, is almost touching and Jackman in those slow-mo shots… wow.
I’ve not seen CGI like this for a long time either. It’s very polished and extremely well finished. Some of the best going, by far.
A good thing with the action and effects is that they enhance the viewing, rather than blanket it.

All in all, a standard set of circumstances, set around a modern twist of robots and brilliant CGI effects and action.

Real Steel is so simple, and yet so already-seen-before in the scripting stakes… yet so connective between the viewer and the characters and their story… it actually makes the movie so much more than a basic CGI fest or actioner.

Good for all ages (though rated 12 in the UK). I highly recommend Real Steel, simply because of how much fun it is, how touching it is, the fantastic action and acting, with such a recognisable story.

A knockout.

"I want you to fight for me. That's all I ever wanted"

My Rating: 100%

Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.

Bots gotta be bottin'

Review #4: Cowboys And Aliens.

Another 'western' from me, kind of.

Interesting concept based on a comic book of the same name and it certainly feels like it too. But mostly in a good way.

The way the two ideas are put to screen don't quite gel properly, though maybe that's down to the whacky idea in the first place.

Though in saying that, Cowboys And Aliens doesn't try to be a western, nor does it try to be a sci-fi. It's somewhere in between. A genre I've never seen before outside of a Dr Who episode or even the terrible Wild Wild West.

Daniel Craig is interesting as the rough and tough 'man with no name'. Similar in ilk to Eastwood, though Craig's story is explained over the duration of the film.
Harrison Ford is almost perfectly cast as a grizzled old war veteran with a heart. He does the job, but you can't help feeling sombody else could have done it better.
As too is Olivia Wilde as the beautiful western Damsel in distress. But with a twist.

Supporting cast from Sam Rockwell and produced in part by heavy weights Spielberg and Ron Howard, the movie almost can't go wrong.

As far as the writing and action goes, it's definitely a popcorn movie.
Fun, loud, storyline written about as good as it could have been, the dialogue well written and is well recited from the cast and the CGI is wonderfully rendered.
The film makers, especially director Favreau, at least had the gumption to hide the CGI based enemy in the shadows till the end. When unveiled, the Aliens don't disappoint either.

Seen as a low percentage scorer when it first hit cinemas, I think that should be ignored and let the viewer decide whether they like it or not.
Certainly a must see for anyone who hasn't, solely because of the chalk and cheese premise.

I for one am a believer.

My rating 75%

Liked your review of Cowboys and Aliens...a film I personally didn't really understand. You liked it slightly more than I did and though I found the film confusing and full of plotholes, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen either.

Review #6: Leon.

From director Luc Besson, who's style of film making is odd at the best of times, comes another highly improbable sequence of events that are somehow very engaging.

The plot evolves around a streetwise but extremely naive 12 year old girl Matilda (Natalie Portman) and hitman Leon (Jean Reno). Thrown together in an 'odd couple' situation after Portman's family are killed by crooked cops, led by Gary Oldman.

It shouldn't work. It really shouldn't work. The premise of the situation is unreal, odd and very provocative, which, oddly, actually forces it to work.

It's the way Besson presents the characters and the way the actors carry thier roles that's spot on.

Portman's Matilda is almost uncomfortable to watch at times due to the 'Lolita' essence that Besson has put into the character. Though Portman, even at that young age she was, carries the role perfectly. The naivity of the character is seen in a very real sense at times too.
Jean Reno acts Leon as being wonderfully withdrawn from reality. Leon seems to just follow events as they happen and deals with each outcome accordingly, never really planning ahead, occasionally he realises what's going on and gets uncomfortable when reality hits. Eventually coming to care for Portman as a father figure.
Now, as for Gary Oldman, where to begin? His drugged up DEA officer is menacing while onscreen yet you can't take your eyes off him. Twitchy, unstable and dangerous when provoked, which doesn't take alot either. Oldman actually makes the viewer feel uncomfortable even when he's not doing anything.
He's certainly a runner in my top 50 movie villians of all time.

The movie's humour tends to come from the awkward, mildly sexual moments between Leon and Matilda, which gives the movie a few 'shouldn't laugh' moments, but Leon's reactions are what makes it funny, as Jean Reno again, is spot on.

Though slightly unreal in the premise, all in all a momentarily funny and very engaging movie with a hit of action at the end. Not beautifully shot but certainly stylish and the characters are extremely well written and played.

My rating 74%

Your review of Leon is on the money....I agree with every word.

Review #7: Dreamcatcher.

Based on a Stephen King novel, Dreamcatcher is about an Alien invasion in a remote mountain setting in Maine and four, (now grown up) school friends.

Starring Hollywood favourites Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore (Heat, Saving Private Ryan), Timothy Olyphant (Hitman, Die Hard 4), Jason Lee (Mallrats, My Name Is Earl) and Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea) and Donnie Wahlberg (Saw 2, NKOTB), the movie feels as though that's where all the budget went.

Though the actors do their jobs well, you never really get into the events happening around them.
Sure, there's some mystery at the start, but it's quickly and simply explained away, leaving the viewer with no real reason to keep watching other than for full on CGI action.
The beginning of the movie is probably about the best part, the 'buddy feelings' hit on by the main cast work well. But it isn't enough to hold the viewer.

The CGI effects are sub-standard too, as I said, the movie's budget seemed to go on the actors' wages. Plus, the creatures are shown near the start of the film, leaving the viewer with nothing to really look forward to.

The story also hasn't moved from King's book to the screen very well at all. It feels rushed, almost unfinished.
Some interesting concepts are their though, 'memory warehouses' and magical ways of finding 'lost things' give the aura of the film a different depth, but not much.

Sadly, it could have been a lot, lot better.

My rating 44%

I have not seen this movie, but your review doesn't surprise me because I've discovered over the years that, with very few exceptions, Stephen King books don't translate very well to the screen.

"""" Hulk Smashhhh."""
Gideon why don't you just reply once with Multi quotes?.
Optimus Reviews
LATEST REVIEW Zack Snyder’s Justice League // Godzilla vs Kong
My Top 50 Favourites

"Banshee is the greatest thing ever. "

No plot spoilers contained in any of my reviews.

All of my reviews are given a neutral percentage rating, regardless of how much I like, or dislike, the film.
What I have devised however, is a symbol system based on my Avatar that shows my own personal feelings toward each individual film.

Top Film. Me Likey! Forever!

Middle Of The Road, 'Good But Standard' Movie For Me Personally.

Personally, I Avoid At All Costs. I Pretend It Doesn't Exist.


Review #1: Young Guns.
Ok, an older film but I thought, seeing as it's my favourite movie.

Based loosely on the Lincoln County War of 1878 and the beginnings of the Billy The Kid Legend. Film makers decided the use of 'Brat Pack' actors would be good for a serious movie and they hit on a very special cast.

For a start, the acting from all parties is spot on. Terrence Stamp as John Tunstall is (as always with Stamp) a very inviting character, mature, wise and mildly amusing.
Emilio Estevez as Kid is an inspired piece of casting, Estevez carries the Kids persona extremely well. Young, cheeky, trigger happy, streetwise and also naive.
Supporting/almost main actors include Jack Palance, Charlie Sheen (before he was apparently 'winning'), Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, Lou Diamond Phillips and Dermot Mulroney.
All in all, the handsome cast of 'good guys' teamed against Palance's group of grizzly, hairy bad guys makes you route for the Regulators even more.

The entire movie has a feel of being shot with a sepia filter on the camera lense, not a bad thing though, it adds to the authenticity of the Wild West setting.
The climactic gunfight scenes are wonderfully staged if a little slow to get going.

The bad points: It's loosely based on fact. Said to be the most accurate movie based on the Lincoln War, and I'd agree it is the most accurate film outside of a documentary, but it's still far from actual fact.
The Lincoln War it's self has more to it, which could have made for a longer, maybe more interesting movie.
Though throw those thoughts aside, crack open a bottle and enjoy a well made western.

One thing that will throw the audience is that, what appears to be an OTT gunfight ending, actually happened in real life.

My rating 90%.

I've been feeling I've been neglecting you, as I visited all the other major reviewers, yet I absolutely love your originality. And believe it or not only now has it occured to me that your avatar says R instead of S. What a dummie!

Hey that's also a clever, that 'Brat pack', merging 'brat' with Sinatra.

as far as i know, this was when they were young and forthcoming, taking seriously their business, the Sheens. On the opposite side we had Dennis Quaid, who was more interested in getting wasted and laid. So i heard, at least.

btw I love Jack Palance. Here's his own way of receiving an Oscar:

Review #248, Movie #319

Year Of Release

Ridley Scott

Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Aditya Sood, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam

Andy Weir

Harry Gregson-Williams

Jessica Chastain, Michael Pen͂a, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor with Sean Bean, Benedict Wong and Jeff Daniels

And Matt Damon

A manned mission to Mars is going well, until a huge storm brews up and the crew have to abandon the mission and head back out into space.
Only on the way back to the shuttle in the immense winds and flying rocks and dust, one of the crew, Mark Watney, is hit by a piece of flying debris and thrown across the Martian tundra, and his lifeless body disappears into the dusty darkness.

After a short search for Mark’s body, the crew reluctantly leave behind their fallen crewmember, believing him to be dead from the impact.

A while later back on Earth, NASA spot something odd on the Mars Satellite imagery: Photos of the Mars Base, that were taken hours apart, show that one of the Mars Rovers has been moving around on the surface.

After months alone on Mars with what was thought to be no food, water, power or communications with anything off-planet… Mark Watney is still alive.

Awesome, awesome , awesome.

Damn I wish I’d gone to see this at the cinema. I bought the DVD instead. Sooo glad I did.
The Martian is an insightful, stirring, emotional and inspirational look at the Human psyche and spirit.

The movie revels in showing a realistic portrayal of being stranded, alone, with nothing but your wits to rely on for survival.
The good thing with this film, is the back and forth with Mars and Earth. We see NASA and its top tier people all clambering for an explanation and trying to keep the media happy and form a rescue plan at the same time, Matt Damon on Mars doing his survival thing, the crew of the ship doing their own thing to figure out how they can help… it’s pieced together nicely, apart from maybe one small cut in time with a generic “X Months Later” card
This makes me wonder if they were running out of things that Damon could do, or if there was a huge chunk of movie that was cut out for timing.

The other small fault was toward the end when another Space Agency gets involved. It felt a little, well, forced. A kind of “regardless of politics, Humans are deep down a good species” sort of hippy thing.

The movie is funny though at times. Some of the shenanigans that Damon gets up to and the banter between the various cast members over the radios and computers, is realistic and heart-touching at times.
There were also a few times I felt like crying. Not just the odd emotional scene with Damon and his predicament… but also with the odd hint of disaster for him when he has the inevitable accident or incident that blows away all his hard work.
This is all down to the audience-character connections tbh… the writing of the characters mixed with the acting, is perfect.

There’s also simplicity to this film that reminded me of Scott’s masterpiece Alien. Stuck in a place, surrounded by harsh conditions, simply trying to survive.
Also there’s the space-suits that Scott seems to be a fan of in his sci-fi movies.

Damon is brilliantly charismatic with his lone-hero thing. His monologues at camera give an impression of “found footage” and the general choreography and photography of the rest of his scenes blend perfectly with Damon’s natural ability to draw the viewer in.
Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Sean Bean play the main NASA foursome on Earth who are trying to formulate a rescue plan. They play off each other brilliantly too and hold the more serious tones together nicely when compared to Damon’s mix of tragedy and humour.
The rest of the cast, are really support for the background of the story. Jessica Chastain, Michael Pen͂a, Kate Mara and Sebastian Stan aren’t seen a huge amount really until the third act. They’re solid though, and Chastain in particular as the Mission Chief who blames herself for Watney’s situation is nicely played by JC.

As for the action and effects… well, there’s a ton of CGI… and it’s perfectly rendered. Most of it is un-spottable due to the brilliant way it’s incorporated into the movie.
The good thing though, is the film also has huge amounts of actual sets and set pieces, practical effects and the occasional pyrotechnic as well.
The action that comes in small hits is utilised as an accent to the rest of the choreography and photography rather than just for the sake of it. The movie more relies on seeing how Watney is making sure he survives on a brilliantly rendered mix of CG and practically built Martian tundra. Good job!

All in all, apart from a couple timing issues (that “Months Later” card being one of them), The Martian is a top notch sci-fi, comedy, survivalist, tragedy adventure.
Ridley Scott, after the past 10 years or so of dodgy movies like Exodus, Robin Hood, Kingdom Of Heaven and Prometheus, is definitely back on form.
Funny, touching, heart-wrenching, tragic… and will more than likely reach the heights of “Classic” in a few years from now.

My Rating: 98%

Nice to see some Martian love lately. I know it's fluff, but it is the kind of fluff I love. Made my top five last year.

All the contradictory reports on Batman vs Superman, Im very curious YOUR review on it. Please help me cut thru the fat, and decide if I should spend money to see this or not.

Took my time with this one... saw it at the cinema but now I got the DVD I've been able to finish it properly.

Might be a few spoilers hints in this, but nothing that can totally ruin the film if you haven't seen it yet.

Review #249, Movie #320

Year Of Release

J.J. Abrams

Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk

Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
George Lucas

John Williams

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis

With Max von Sydow

And Mark Hamill


Around 30 years after Return Of The Jedi, Luke Skywalker has vanished. He had been rebuilding the Jedi Order but tragedy struck and Luke disappeared. In his absence, the remnants of The Empire has rebuilt itself into The New Order and they are searching for Skywalker as they know if he were to return to power, it could spell the end of them.

Standing in The New Order’s way though is the remnants of The Rebellion, now known as The Resistance, led by General Leia and under the support of the New Republic.

In the meantime also, a young and foolhardy Stormtrooper called FN-2187 has renounced The New Order and makes his escape, hoping to find a quieter and violence free life, and in the process he rescues a captive Resistance Fighter called Poe Dameron… and together they make their way to the desert planet Jakku.

But FN-2187, now dubbed as “Finn”, finds himself thrown back into the midst of the action… with a young girl called Rey by his side.


There’s been a lot of bad press on this movie, but there’s been a huge amount of good press too.

I’m one of the good ones

TFA, gives old fans a taste of the magic that the original gave them all those years ago, and almost washes the bitter aftertaste of the prequels away with ease.

The movie contains lashings of recognisable elements of the originals, from the effects, obviously the characters and some of the settings with an even-more-gianter-big-Death-Star thing going on (ala-ROTJ) and a planet that resembles Tattooine, a buddy-story between Finn and Poe, and a small funny looking creature that resembles a Yoda style character.

There’s even a few scenes that are similar, for instance when Poe hands BB-8 something… it resembles Leia in A New Hope with R2-D2.

These aren’t a bad thing though. The movie is acting like a bridge for the new generation. Giving tastes of the original trilogy, with the fact that it’s a modern movie, and the backup of modern effects (both CG and practical) and combines it all with the fact that being a bridge is not all the film is about.

There are new elements to the story and new plots and subplots going on.

For instance Luke’s exile, and the past story of why he disappeared… the story of Kylo Ren, and his history and future… and the hints of where Rey is going to end up. Rey also has a backstory which is yet to be revealed and it makes her character even more exiting in terms of the Star Wars Universe.

There’s also that incident toward the end of the film that cements Kylo Ren as a villain to really despise and get the audience’s attention.

Many people also barked about the ending too. I say, well, it’s simply a great ending. It makes you want to see Episode 8. It puts you on the edge of your seat, willing time to pass so you can see what happens next, especially after the tragedies that befall our heroes in the third act.

There hasn’t been a sci-fi movie with so much emotional pull, combined with such an ending as this since The Empire Strikes Back.

The movie also has tons of mystery to it too. Some characters and some backstories are never fully explained and it makes you want to see more to find these things out.

The new cast are also on form.

I’ll start with Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron… he felt a little underused. Isaac is a floppy haired, good looking good guy, who kicks ass, has charisma in bucketloads and has the dashing charm that has been missing from Star Wars since 1983. I seriously hope he appears more in Episode 8.

Adam Driver is our villainous Kylo Ren. Kylo is a wannabe Vader, basically, and Driver portrays a guy who is tormented and mentally unstable perfectly. Driver also gives us an emotional villain, in that he knows he isn’t strong enough for certain things, and he shows a fear within himself that pushes him to rage. If anything, Lucas should have cast him as Anakin Skywalker in Episodes 2 and 3, he’d have been great in the role.

Now, Boyega as Finn… I have to say… he’s great stuff. Boyega plays the naïve, almost undereducated but full-hearted and caring hero. Boyega captures a brilliant humour within the character too, totally out of place, doing what he can to help his friends and do what’s right in the situation. His humour sometimes borders slapstick, but not too much, and it’s a lovely breath of fresh air to the SW Universe.

Daisy Ridley as Rey though… I think I’m in love. She too has a naivety to her, but overall she’s headstrong, streetwise, she’s beautiful, athletic and carries massive charisma into every scene. At times Ridley has a wide-eyed wonder to her, which is great for the character of someone who has lived her whole life in a ruined AT-AT Walker in the middle of a desert, who finds herself thrown into a situation she’s unfamiliar with. Daisy Ridley nails this role.

The older cast are back to their standard in this film too… although as real people they have matured, as too have the characters. They’re recognisable, but also slightly different and it adds a nice touch to the film to see our beloved characters portrayed in such a fashion.

Ford as Solo with Mayhew as Chewbacca and Carrie Fisher as Leia… it’s all brilliant to see and witness these characters, albeit older and maybe a bit wiser, together on screen again.

The rest of the cast, from Serkis as Snoke, to Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, all give 100% to make a movie filled with memorable characters.

Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux in particular is good as a bitter and ruthless Commander. He borders slimy too at times and definitely one to watch for in later Episodes.

The effects and action… awesome. Simply awesome.

Practical effects used wherever and whenever possible. No blankets of greenscreens and the CGI is perfectly rendered alongside the practical stuff. Actual sets, actual locations… and the budget wasn’t spared one bit when emulating the weird and wonderful looking creatures and puppets we loved from the original trilogy.

The action itself is also “Star Wars”. This movie was lacking the triple action set-up that was often used in the other movies. We had 2 major battles at the end of this film instead of 3… but the choreography, mixed with the way the movie gets you to care, or hate, the characters involved makes the movie stand strong next to the other movies that came before it.

Gladly also, John Williams is back with his unforgettable musical talent, making his unmistakable mark on the movie.

All in all, a great follow-up to Episode 6.

Exciting, funny in places, definitely tragic, nostalgic to an extent. Great characters, great storyline (if a little close in some areas to the other movies), and it looks fantastic.

Far better than the prequel trilogy (although I do sorta like them)… and is on-par with the original movies.

Star Wars is back! Finally! Star Wars is back! Bring on Episode 8!

My Rating: 98%

Glad to see you like that and especially glad to see you liked The Martian.

I remember right after I watched The Martian, I private messaged you saying that you needed to see it. I thought you'd like it.

It was your recommendation that I bought The Martian
Wish I'd gone to the cinema though. Great movie, one of Scott's best.

Review #250, Movie #321

Year Of Release



Alejandro G Iñárritu


Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon, James W Skotchdopole


Mark L Smith, Alejandro G Iñárritu, Michael Punke


Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto


Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

1823, a band of trappers lead by Captain Andrew Henry through the wilderness of America (the area later becomes known as The Dakotas).
Hugh Glass, the scout and guide for a party of trappers, is attacked and near killed by a bear. The tough and relatively brutal John Fitzgerald and youngster Jim Bridger stay behind to recoup losses from a recent Indian attack, and to also carry Hugh through the wilderness while the rest of the trappers head back to a nearby outpost. To make matters worse though, the trappers are still being stalked by the Indians.
So, with the future looking dim, Fitzgerald buries Hugh alive, with Bridger opposing the decision, and the two leave the area to escape the Indians.
What Fitzgerald didn’t realise though, is that Hugh’s resolve and will to live will be his undoing.

I bought the DVD, based on reviews and the recent hype surrounding the film.
I had to try 4 times to sit through this movie.

This isn’t the average movie of loss, brutality and revenge. It’s a beautifully photographed movie, backed up by incredibly strong acting… but that’s where the hype should have stopped.

The major problem with the film is the pacing immediately after bear attack (about 10 minutes in). The movie starts out pretty exciting with an Indian attack, then there’s the bear attack… then the movie kinda stalls for 90-110 minutes, with loads of speeches and random scenes of talking about death and the harshness of life in the early 1800s, with Hardy’s actions pitted against DiCaprio’s constant grunting and foaming at the mouth while he’s dragging his injured body around the snow covered wilderness.

Even with the great acting involved, you don’t get to care about the characters because of the pacing, and it makes the main selling point of the movie, the survivalist theme, a chore to sit through. Another let down was the constant barrage of things going wrong for our hero. It felt like a Wild West version of Gravity… if something can go wrong, it will.

There’s also the fictitious elements of the movie involving Hugh Glass’s family that kinda feels like it’s forcing some sort of faux-Dances-With-Wolves feel to the audience’s collective mind. It’s typical of Hollywood to throw in some fakery, but this faux-spirituality felt like a pointless addition tbh. In real life, Glass lived with the Pawnee Indians, and I guess it was technically easier to have that connection by throwing in a half-cast family for the character than explain that background over the course of a few hours.

The Indians on the trail of our main characters also have their own little story as to why they’re hot on the heels of the trappers… sadly, this little side story is never really realised, which is another pointless addition to the proceedings.

Pelts are also mentioned about 600 times within the first 10 minutes of the movie and then sporadically throughout too, and it gets boring almost immediately.

Once all the survivalist stuff is over with though and the road to recovery is well on its way, and the next part of the movie begins (well, the last 20 minutes or so), this is when things get a bit more interesting.
You feel like “Ok, the boring crap and the grunting are out of the way, now on with the payoff”. It pays off as well tbh, though it was almost too late after that long-winded middle in which you sit watching some characters doing some stuff, and it’s only in this last 20 minutes that you start to realise the movie has kinda panned itself out like real life. As in, nothing too fantastical going on, just a brutal survival story.

Now, although you do start to care about Hugh Glass, at least to an extent, simply because of DiCaprio’s acting, and you start to care about whether or not he’ll get his revenge after all he’s been through, it’s still hard to care much for the minor characters after the dodgy pacing of the last 90-110 minutes.

I will say though, aside from the movie being dull, it is beautifully shot. The look of the film is dirty, grimy, cold, wet, harsh and generally grey. The movie excels at making the viewer feel the harshness of the surroundings. The whole time I felt as though I had frozen toes and a stone in my shoe.
The backgrounds and wilderness settings are beautifully rendered and realistic, but another bad point comes from the filmmakers constantly throwing in revealing shots of the countryside and mountains. Just when you think something is going to happen, or when you want something to happen to move the pacing along, the camera simply pans sideways and reveals a panoramic view of the surroundings… or failing that it’s a shot of the sky… then it’s back to either DiCaprio and his grunting, or Hardy and Poulter talking about life lessons and more pelts.

As I’ve said, the acting is solid. Just a shame there’s no audience-character connection.

DiCaprio is on absolute top form. During filming, he was actually plunged into ice cold water and had to crawl around in the mud and snow. You get the impression that most of his discomfort was actually real. Some of it probably was tbh, but he makes a top impression as a guy who is in serious trouble.

Hardy is also on form, but I felt he was playing a chunk of it by the numbers. It wasn’t really a role that Hardy had to work at, and it felt as though he was just, well, there. As always with Hardy, his turn was in no way a bad one, I’ve still yet to see Hardy turn in a bad performance… it just felt like a generic villain character.

Poulter is underused though tbh as Jim Bridger. When he’s allowed to act, he does so really well, but he was pushed to the back a bit more than I’d have liked, especially when he was put next to the generic role that Hardy was cast in.

Gleeson makes a decent show though, but still wasn’t seen a huge amount. He really only comes into his own at the end, but his presence is definitely worth it.

The choreography, like the photography, is also top-notch stuff. There’s Indian attacks and Hugh Glass’s survival throughout the tough conditions and trying to heal wounds using gunpowder, the bear attack (albeit with some slightly dodgy CGI), and a big fisticuffs battle at the end too.

Some of the action throws itself back to more regular cinema too with an obligatory water rapids ride when Glass is trying to escape approaching Indians.

Some of the camera work is also fantastic. For instance there are few shots where the camera follows someone running, action going off around them, then getting on a horse, then riding fast… and camera fluently follows the action in a single take.

All in all, solidly photographed and shot, great choreography in small stints and DiCaprio is stunning… but it wasn’t worth the hype.

Exciting first 10 minutes followed up by a decent payoff in the third act once you’ve fought your way through the chore of the middle 110 minutes… but I guess you have to sit through all that for the ending to work.

My Rating: 73%

Originally Posted by The Rodent
I had to try 4 times to sit through this movie.
I tried once and haven't been in the mood to try again.

And you say the movie gets BAD after the beginning? Yikes. It was always bad to me.

And great acting? I thought you hated Leonardo DiCaprio.

Originally Posted by The Rodent
DiCaprio is stunning…

I don't like him, but credit where credit is due.
Not sure he deserved the Oscar, but he's pretty good in the movie.

Welcome to the human race...
All those complaints and criticisms and it still gets a
(even though a 73% should technically round down to
). That's...interesting.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
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