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Face-Off: The Edge vs. The Grey

12.29.2015by: Brian Bitner
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!
LEAD
Anthony Hopkins 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.
Liam Neeson 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.
SUPPORTING CAST
Alec Baldwin as Robert Green
Elle Macpherson as Mickey Morse
Harold Perrineau as Stephen
L.Q. Jones as Styles
Bart the Bear as The Freaking Bear

Baldwin could almost tie this one on his own, but the rest of the supporting cast has so little to do (except for the bear) that I can't really give THE EDGE a point here.
Frank Grillo as Diaz
Dermot Mulroney as Talget
Dallas Roberts as Henrick
Joe Anderson as Flannery
Nonso Anozie as Burke

Though Neeson is clearly the lead, THE GREY is definitely an ensemble piece, with each of the oil workers bringing their own personalities, backstories, and fears to the table.
THE THREAT
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.
WRITING
David Mamet 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.
Joe Carnahan 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.
DIRECTING
Lee Tamahori 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.
Joe Carnahan'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.
BOX OFFICE & REVIEWS
Domestic Total Gross: $27,873,386
IMDB: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 60% (70% audience score)
Roger Ebert: 3 stars
Domestic Total Gross: $51,580,236
IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (61% audience score)
Roger Ebert: 3.5 stars
TIEBREAKER
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.
The Grey
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, DRIVE, 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 brianbitner@joblo.com.

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12:27PM on 12/30/2015
The Edge wins by a mile. Better acting, better story, chilling score, and the ending is very memorable. Underrated movie for sure.
The Edge wins by a mile. Better acting, better story, chilling score, and the ending is very memorable. Underrated movie for sure.
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7:07PM on 12/29/2015

"The Threat"

You obviously don't know wolves at all.
You obviously don't know wolves at all.
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1:45PM on 12/29/2015
The Grey is one hell of a film. I think what made me love the film as much as I did was the unexpected philosophical agenda. More psychological than action driven.
Really enjoyed the score and ending as well. Once more into the fray....
The Grey is one hell of a film. I think what made me love the film as much as I did was the unexpected philosophical agenda. More psychological than action driven.
Really enjoyed the score and ending as well. Once more into the fray....
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12:36PM on 12/29/2015
I haven't seen The Edge in so many years. But funny, I was just thinking about that movie last night. One of Anthony Hopkins' most underrated roles, too.
I haven't seen The Edge in so many years. But funny, I was just thinking about that movie last night. One of Anthony Hopkins' most underrated roles, too.
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11:56AM on 12/29/2015
The Edge will always be one of my favorites. The Grey was ok to me.
The Edge will always be one of my favorites. The Grey was ok to me.
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11:10AM on 12/29/2015

"This doesn't feel south, Charles"

I LOVE The Edge. The Grey was good but not compared to The Edge. The Edge used a real bear while The Grey had CGI wolves. Just saying.
I LOVE The Edge. The Grey was good but not compared to The Edge. The Edge used a real bear while The Grey had CGI wolves. Just saying.
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10:54AM on 12/29/2015

Charles!

The Edge is a great movie. The Grey is a fairly stupid movie. They shouldn't even be comparable.
The Edge is a great movie. The Grey is a fairly stupid movie. They shouldn't even be comparable.
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10:25AM on 12/29/2015

"I don't feel quite 100%, Charles"

The Edge is one of my all time favorites. You can make a drinking game with the number of times they say Charles.
The Edge is one of my all time favorites. You can make a drinking game with the number of times they say Charles.
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10:25AM on 12/29/2015

"I don't feel quite 100%, Charles"

The Edge is one of my all time favorites. You can make a drinking game with the number of times they say Charles.
The Edge is one of my all time favorites. You can make a drinking game with the number of times they say Charles.
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7:29AM on 12/29/2015
The Grey for me. I think the threat in The Grey was much more horrifying than The Edge.
The Grey for me. I think the threat in The Grey was much more horrifying than The Edge.
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7:11AM on 12/29/2015
Wow, it's been a long time since I've seen The Edge. I wish I could remember it so I could have an opinion on this face off. I do remember liking it very much.

Next Face Off: Katniss vs Rey .....make it happen!!
Wow, it's been a long time since I've seen The Edge. I wish I could remember it so I could have an opinion on this face off. I do remember liking it very much.

Next Face Off: Katniss vs Rey .....make it happen!!
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7:00AM on 12/29/2015

What A Joke This Was

Of course it's The Edge. One of the most underrated and under-appreciated films I've ever seen. The score (something you failed to mention) is brilliantly tense and chilling and Anthony Hopkins' Charles Morse is one of the greatest on-screen characters of the last 50 years. An honorable, intelligent, cunning, and awe-inspiring character that every, single man should aspire to be like.
Of course it's The Edge. One of the most underrated and under-appreciated films I've ever seen. The score (something you failed to mention) is brilliantly tense and chilling and Anthony Hopkins' Charles Morse is one of the greatest on-screen characters of the last 50 years. An honorable, intelligent, cunning, and awe-inspiring character that every, single man should aspire to be like.
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7:08PM on 12/29/2015
Of course you are wrong
Of course you are wrong
3:36AM on 12/29/2015

The Grey

One of my favorite films of all time.
One of my favorite films of all time.
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2:31AM on 12/29/2015
The Edge.
The Edge.
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