Alejandro González Iñárritu
's THE REVENANT
begins a limited run this week and goes wide on January 8th (you can read our review here
). While Iñárritu's film may not be the end-all be-all of survival films, it's certainly a welcomed entry into the genre. Films like CAST AWAY
, THE MARTIAN
, and 127 HOURS
focus on a character surviving by himself, while THE REVENANT
focuses on survival in the face of nature, wildlife, and- worst of all- other people. This is a bit of niche category, but two films we've seen before of this ilk include 1997's THE EDGE
and the recent Liam Neeson
sleeper hit THE GREY
, so this week it's the battle of the grizzled outdoorsmen as they struggle to survive against the Alaskan wilderness, so bundle up, strap some tiny liquor bottles to your fists, and let's do this!
delivers both an understated and transformative performance as billionaire Charles Morse. Hopkins explores a range of mental states, from reclusive and suspicious to pedantic and resourceful to downright beastly and maniacal.
gives an excellent performance as huntsman John Ottway. If there's anything to say on the negative side of Neeson's performance, it's that it's nothing we haven't seen before. We're basically just watching Bryan Mills vs. wolves.
Oh, that bear. Sure, it's a bit convenient to set up the plot point of "once a bear's tasted man, that's all he wants," but the ever-present threat creates constant tension and action throughout. Most importantly, we're treated to a large and very satisfying final battle, where we get to see our heroes take down their mutual enemy using the skills they've learned over the course of the film.
Remember the trailer for this film? Liam Neeson
screaming and charging at a wolf? Yeah, that's the end of the movie. No big wolf battle. In general, the wolves feel a bit ridiculous here, both from an effects standpoint and the fact that they're portrayed as being vengeful and all around more human than is realistic.
does what he does best here, showing man at his ugliest and giving each scene its own unique twist. This is certainly the kind of movie that could feel extremely contrived without a polished script.
and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
present us with a refreshing script that focuses more on character and belief than action. Both the plot and dialogue can feel forced and overly convenient at times, but there's still a lot to like.
takes full advantage of shooting on location, making THE EDGE
a beautifully shot film. Otherwise, there's a bit of an unfortunate 90's feel here, with some moments feeling a bit dated.
's direction is really where THE GREY
shines. Carnahan sets an inescapable mood, setting a bleak tone and driving home the fact that this is a film about the acceptance of death.
Rewatching THE EDGE
for this column was a delight, as I had forgotten what an enjoyable film it is. To that point, though, it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. Even though it's very well-made, there's little to it we haven't seen in Hollywood fare before or since.
Gun to my head, I might say THE EDGE
is a more well-rounded, complete film than THE GREY
, but the latter just stayed with me in a way the former did not. Basically, the overarching mood and contemplative nature of THE GREY
is why I'm tipping the scale in its favor.
This was a tough one. Both films are great in their own way, but I'm a sucker for an action film that turns out to be more than it seems (28 DAYS LATER
, NATURAL BORN KILLERS
, etc.). While THE EDGE
can certainly give you cause to think, THE GREY forces
you to consider death and your time on this earth in a way few films can. The fact that it can do that and still be a fun watch is no small feat and pushes it (ugh, sorry) over THE EDGE
for me. I'm very curious to hear what you guys think, though, so let me know down below!
Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!
If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.