‘The Revenant’ – two parts ‘Gravity’, one part bear.

the revenant poster

Alejandro González Iñárritu returns with yet another polished piece of art, yet not all that shines is gold.

“The Revenant” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an 1820s tracker named Hugh Glass. As the movie picks up, Glass is hired to lead a fur-trapping party through an area populated by the “Ree” (a slang term for the Arikara tribe).

After a native attack leaves the crew dwindled, tensions mount as Iñárritu keeps his viewer on edge until a CGI bear comes along to screw up Leo’s day in what is probably the most intense scene of violence I’ve witnessed in a major motion picture.

Iñárritu uses a relatively long-form and weak plot to hold up what is seemingly his attempt at a movie more focused on the act of telling a story than actually presenting a full story. As his famously trippy and pretentious award-winning efforts in recent years (“Birdman” and “Gravity”) can attest, this is a one-way ticket to Oscar stardom.

In fact, he digs out of his own toolbag to a noticeable degree, especially during an opening sequence which adopts Birdman’s signature tactic of presenting a scene as one continuous shot.

While I respect the amount of vision and idea behind this intense opening sequence, there are too many easily noticeable goofs for me to fully sink into this story at first.

Attempts to create one flowing shot that appears to never cut are littered with people throwing themselves at the camera, desperate to be the object that hides a cut. Sometimes cuts between shots will reposition the camera at a new angle with a new lens, creating a jarring change in visuals over a span of seconds.

Simply cutting through the damn scene would’ve been less disturbing.

But on that note, disturbing seems to be a holdover from “Gravity,” as Iñárritu’s space-bound penchant for sudden, seemingly pointless bursts of disturbing and exhausting violence return triple fold as we see people laid out left and right in a cavalcade of violence.

It’s as if Iñárritu watched a ton of Tarantino movies the night before shooting “The Revenant.”

I had a hell of a time, and by that I mean I paid to be stressed out for two hours and loved it.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)