Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…

Movie Review: The Revenant (2015)

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Survival, something we all strive for in our own ways. Doesn’t matter at what level, all humans aim to survive in one way or another. Doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in your kitchen, having a cup of tea or if you’re lost in the woods… you are trying to survive.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Revenant”.

Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) hasn’t had the best of times. First he got mauled by an angry bear, and then he got left for dead by his hunting team. So now Glass sets out on a long and difficult journey to survive and possibly get revenge. And before you ask, no this isn’t a fast-paced revenge action movie like “Kill Bill”. This is more of a slow and methodical tale about Glass just trying to stay alive while finding the asshole that wronged him. And I have to say that I thought it was a great plot. I don’t want to say that I enjoyed it, because there’s some really disturbing stuff going on at times and it’s a pretty harrowing tale, so enjoyment is not the word I’d use for the plot. It was a ver yinteresting plot that I was invested in from start to finish.

The characters in this movie were all realistic and very interesting. Leonardo DiCaprio… holy fuck, that dude can act. He doesn’t say a whole lot, and when he does it isn’t always in English. But I always believed his performance, it was absolutely fantastic. Tom Hardy was also great in the movie, even though he feel back on the typical “Tom Hardy mumble” quite a bit. But his performance overall was great. Domhnall Gleeson, also turning out a truly great performance in the movie. And Will Poulter was really good too, he really surprised me in this movie. I mean, there wasn’t ever a performance I’d call bad or even mediocre in this movie… all were somewhere between good and fan-fucking-tastic.

The score for the movie was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, and Bryce Dessner. And it was nothing short of great. There were tracks that were really exciting and there were tracks that were really haunting and eerie. Really, the score was very well composed and perfectly fit the movie.

This movie was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who also directed “Birdman”. And once again he did something very unique when directing this movie. Though instead of making the entire movie look like one continuous shot he opted to shoot the entire movie in natural light. Which means that he actually went out into the fucking wilderness and shot with all natural light sources, like the sun or some fire. No studio lights or green screen here, it’s the real deal. Sure, there was some CG in the movie, but only for some of the more impossible stuff… like Leonardo DiCaprio getting mauled by a god damn bear, that was of course a man in a funny suit getting some CGI edited on top of him so he could become a bear. There were apparently a bunch more bits of CG in the movie, but it was blended so well with the practical that I couldn’t tell which was which. Shit, here I’ve spent a bunch of words talking about visual effects that I forgot to talk about the directing/cinematography. But yeah, that stuff is holy fucking shit levels of amazing. The scenes are very well crafted and the cinematography is some of the best that I’ve ever seen. It is a visually stunning movie. Let’s talk about the action scenes in the movie. There are not too many, but when they happen they are incredibly brutal and disturbing. I don’t have a problem with violence in movies, but the stuff here is done in such a brutal and realistic way that it got some reactions out of me. So if you haven’t seen this movie and you’re squeamish… consider this a warning.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Actor (DiCaprio, finally), Best Director, and Best Cinematography. The movie was also nominated for an additional 9 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Sounds Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Production Design. 

“The Revenant” is an incredibly impressive film. It has a great plot, great characters, terrific performances, great music, fantastic directing, gorgeous cinematography, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *Grunting noise*. My final score for “The Revenant” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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My review of “The Revenant” is now completed.

Damn nature, you scary!