I didn’t pay to see this film in the theatre; I knew what to expect. But Netflix brought it to me for free, so I allowed myself to be persuaded. It cost me two hours I could have used better.
This film is a pathetic demonstration of what’s wrong with America today. It’s supposed to be about how tough and brave America’s ancestors were. In fact, it’s a cinematic fantasy, with an unrealistic plotline full of holes, even if you don’t know what it’s truly like to be out in the forest in the wintertime. Not to mention one-shot muzzle-loaders that have two shots in them.
This is a film created for city people sitting in a nice, warm theatre, with absolutely no idea of the reality of the setting they are watching. I mean, I know it’s a cinematic convention, but every single campfire looked as if it had just been lit, and nobody seemed to notice that there was something warm over there and the weather was freezing. I can’t even remember anyone warming his hands, let alone sitting or sleeping close to the fire.
And don’t get me started on hypothermia and frostbite. These guys weren’t just tough. They were competing in a Mr. Polar Bear Swimsuit pageant. Do you know what happens when you climb out of a river in freezing temperatures? You get a fire going or you die.
The cinematography started out wonderful, but then fell into a complete rut, with the same images over and over again. My son’s first movie, shot on Digital 8 when he was in Grade 12, had most of the same ideas.
The only thing that lived up to the hype was the much-vaunted performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, whose acting almost made up for the fact that the dialogue writer took a holiday somewhere warm. The rest of the story certainly didn’t take long, and quite a few details were left on the cutting room floor that might have strung the plot together. But I suppose there wasn’t that much time left, once the cinematographer had finished all the wide-angle lens shots upwards into the trees. I took that picture a couple of times when I first got a camera and then gave up because while one is impressive, the next hundred all look the same.
The fight choreography bears mentioning, if you’ll pardon the pun. The battle at the end, with two inept animals clawing and chewing at each other, was far less believable than the scene it echoes: the grizzly attack in the beginning. I’d put the bear up for best supporting actor any day. He’s a natural.
Oh, and did I mention that this is also an “Art Film?” (Drop your voice a reverent octave and over-accentuate the air quotes with your fingers.) Accomplished by a series of annoying and disorienting flashbacks – on the principal that if the viewer doesn’t know what’s going on, it must be Art – and one thematic image which is pounded over and over, accompanied by one Artistic camera shot (see ‘trees’ above).
Sorry, folks, this film is slickly produced, wild, unrealistic fantasy posing as gritty realism. My wife, Linda, fell asleep, and I had to amuse myself by writing this review in my head.
Highly recommended for NRA members and other fantasists. (3 / 5)