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"The Revenant" reviews: What critics are saying about Leonardo DiCaprio's latest film

Leonardo DiCaprio is garnering early Oscars buzz for his role in "The Revenant," which hits theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.

The film, which pairs DiCaprio with Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Inarritu ("Birdman"), is inspired by the life of mythical explorer Hugh Glass. Based on Michael Punke's novel, "The Revenant" chronicles one man's adventure of survival in the early 19th century American wilderness.

"It's a really primal story of man and the natural world," DiCaprio told The Associated Press. "It's almost biblical."

The 19th century survival epic, which was filmed in Calgary, Alberta and Argentina, co-stars Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter.

Here's what critics are saying about "The Revenant":

"DiCaprio's performance is an astonishing testament to his commitment to a role. That's really him plunging into that river. That's him staggering half-naked through the teeth-chattering cold. That's him grabbing a fish out of icy waters and eating it raw." -- Soren Anderson, Seattle Times

"I think 'The Revenant' is, on the whole, pain without gain, but it's certainly a tour de force -- literally, a feat of strength. DiCaprio, Inarritu, cinematographer Emmanuel 'Chivo' Lubekzi, and their collaborators hauled themselves through the Canadian Rockies and deserve what respect one can muster, although their artistry is finite, a test of will and pyrotechnics and, yes, traditional masculinity instead of a search for what illuminates man's inhumanity to man." -- David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

"Few prestige directors have so fully committed to the notion of cinema as an endurance test as Alejandro G. Inarritu, and he pushes himself, the audience and an aggrieved 19th-century frontiersman well beyond their usual limits in 'The Revenant.' Bleak as hell but considerably more beautiful, this nightmarish plunge into a frigid, forbidding American outback is a movie of pitiless violence, grueling intensity and continually breathtaking imagery, a feat of high-wire filmmaking to surpass even Inarritu and d.p. Emmanuel Lubezki's work on last year's Oscar-winning 'Birdman.' Yet in attempting to merge a Western revenge thriller, a meditative epic in the Terrence Malick mold, and a lost-in-the-wilderness production of near-Herzogian insanity, 'The Revenant' increasingly succumbs to the air of grim overdetermination that has marred much of Inarritu's past work: It's an imposing vision, to be sure, but also an inflated and emotionally stunted one, despite an anchoring performance of ferocious 200 percent commitment from Leonardo DiCaprio." -- Justin Chang, Variety

"Inarritu and [Emmanuel] Lubezki are taking chances with their camera -- chances, no doubt, made even more difficult by working with only natural light in frigid conditions. But it pays off, giving the film a singularly strange and haunting beauty." -- Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

"It's one brutal, badass epic. Hang on for the power of cinema unleashed and DiCaprio stretching his acting muscles, testing himself, eager for challenge. That you do not want to miss." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Director/co-writer Alejandro G. Inarritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and a vast team of visual effects wizards have created a sensationally vivid and visceral portrait of human endurance under very nearly intolerable conditions." -- Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter