Director: Antonia Bird
It's 1847 and the Mexican-American war is kicking. Cowardly war hero John Boyd (Guy Pearce) has been sent to a remote outpost: Fort Spencer. The post is populated with strange and bored characters. All is fine and peachy until a mysterious stranger (Carlyle) walks in and disrupts their mundane lives. Cannibalism anyone? Does it really taste like chicken?
It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long, long, long, long, long…Wow! Haven’t viewed such a tasty cannibal flick in eons, Ravenous sure hit the spot! You want kooky? You got it! The first half of this film is pure weirdness. First off, the setting (an 1847 outpost) is way original, the characters are way funky and the sight of meat never looked so disgusting. Without giving too much away, this film is basically the tale of a cannibal trying to initiate a potential sidekick onto the dark side.
Its been done before in vampire flicks ("Interview With The Vampire" comes too mind) and all the undertones are there. Yep, you got your homoerotic undertones (all about Carlyle sniffing his finger and saying the word “virility” way too may times) and you got your religious undertones (Carlyle looking like Christ at first and then looking like the anti-Christ Charles Manson). Both undertones are explored fully and add a delicious coating to the movie. Slap in buckets of blood, moments of witty, intentional humor, sharp dialogue and a tense action scene (at the cave) and you got one hell of a stew.
The film does however lose some of its steam at the halfway point. My main problem is the return of a supposedly dead character. I bought his return but they don’t do much with it. I mean, one second the dude is happy to be alive and the next he wants to end it all. How did that transition happen so fast! The second half also falls into a more generic mold. Side characters getting dispatched (I never really got to know them…oh well) and the requisite mano-a-mano finale (it could have been more intense).
One hombre that I really dug wuz Neal McDonough’s character “Reich”. I was a bit peeved that they didn’t use him more. His snippet in the cold water is a classic shot and defines the man in a split second. I’ve always been fond of tough guys in movies and this is one roughneck I wanted to see more of. The David Arquette character was also underused. He brought some nice humorous moments to the flick and more of him would have been gnarly.
Even though the second half will feel familiar to all genre fans that doesn’t mean it isn’t good red fun. The movie doesn’t shy away from the plasma, is very well acted (Carlyle rocks the slaughterhouse!) and is one unique piece of meat. When all wuz said and done this Arrow wanted a second helping…where’s the damn cook?
Lots of sauce on this dish. Gross meat, hanging skeletons, some nice stabbings and lots of red. Dig in!
Even with a beard Guy Pearce (Boyd) looks like a goody-goody boy. He plays that card well and I bought his vulnerability/innocence. When a bad actor chews the scenery it’s called over acting but when a man of Robert Carlyle’s (Hives) talent does it, it’s called an astounding performance. Carlyle owns this film. His character showcases so many levels and he hits the bull's eye on all of them. Every scene with Carlyle and Pearce together is so on the money. Jeffrey Jones (Hart) downplays the character and that makes his funny bits even more hilarious. Neal McDonough (Reich) plays my kind of dude: a no-bull badass. Dug the bleached hair and cut pecs. I was rooting for the guy, too bad we don’t see enough of him. Jeremy Davies (Toffler) also does well with his quiet character. He gets to utter the classic line: “He was licking me!!!!”…lol! David Arquette (Cleaves) plays himself again…he smokes lots of weed. Yo pass the pipe, bra!
T & A
Robert Carlyle gives us a butt shot. Where are the naked cannibal dames?
Bird shows off the jaw dropping scenery perfectly, captures the tense moments well and offers a couple of nice shots. I loved the way she handled the flashbacks...way stylish. I just wished she had put more spice into the end fight scene. I felt there’s was something missing there.
The score by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman is one of the movie’s strongest points. It complements the film’s bizarre images perfectly and gives a kooky vibe to the basic images. To Napster I go…
Ravenous will not please all. It bombed at the box office and its oddball approach might turn off the average viewer. I for one loved it. I enjoyed its courage, its dark humor and its rock solid acting. And of course rivers of blood always help. So are you gonna dabble on this dish or are you gonna go get yourself another “Big Mac” trio? Your call, dudes and dudettes. Personally I’d love some dessert, where’s my Ravenous 2!!!!
Both director Antonia Bird and star Guy Pearce are vegetarians.
Bird replaced original director Milcho Manchevski two weeks into production.