So it has come to this. Ole Leo finally succumbed to Oscar Bait. As much as this movie has for nominations, this movie had so much promise and potential. And sadly, this movie could have been so much shorter and the last quarter is pretty much cannon fodder and a feast for the masses.
Well first off, Emmanuel Lubezki has done it again. After Gravity and Birdman, he once again brought to the masses amazing cinematography. Birdman had a lot of great tracking shots which really lend itself in portraying constant movement and progress. This time around, there’s a lot of tracking action shots that are just amazing to watch. At times, it just feels like I’m watching a hyper-real cut-scene from a video game. The way the camera capture the action was refreshing and fluid. The scope and atmosphere were really caught throughout the film. It was really easy to be empathetic with Glass as he goes through the harshness of Mother Nature.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu once again delivered behind the director’s chair. The way the cast is moving and merging seamlessly with the action, the direction for this film is phenomenal. The landscape shots and the use of natural light is amazing. I know this was shot in sequence and that is a huge undertaking which is just like his ‘long-shots’ in Birdman but I wonder how much and/or if it will be appreciated by average audiences. I feel in terms of acting it creates a new level of immersion for the cast to stay consistent in their character progression. Normal films are shot whenever and actors are expected to do whatever scene is being shot that day. But with this format, actors are literally experiencing the same things in the same order as the character. I do hope that other directors may pick up this costly but curious way of directing so that audiences can see an actual effect of this directing style.
Now, beyond the movie looking pretty and well directed, I felt the story itself was pretty bland. It had potential. Tom and the natives could have been more developed. The biggest gripe I have is that when Leo comes back to town, the movie feels like it changed genres. From the beginning, the movie was shot and paced in a way that I don’t think general audiences would appreciate but once that change happens, it totally felt like a film general audiences typically would like. When he went back to town, everything he did, I simply did not care for. Largely, I felt that the movie was more so on a survival vein rather than a revenge flick. Furthermore, Leo was no longer vulnerable and he became an able body. He literally crawls for a while in the beginning and to see him have a full recovery and be cocky just felt like a cop-out change in character.
I haven’t read the book and I know this film was inspired by the book and that makes me sad that they didn’t take more liberties with the story and make it more compelling. I mean, sure if this is how things went down between Leo and Tom, then it wasn’t properly build up to. On another note, props to Will as he was able to stand beside these huge stars and not be left in the dust and I swear Domhnall is now in everything (just can’t wait till Oscar, Tom and Domhnall to be in the same movie, I mean just imagine) and it was nice to see his range here.
So yeah, with all that said, this movie looks great and it was a good try for Leo in trying to win an Oscar. He has a high chance winning but in my Oscars, he didn’t win Best Actor.