The year's first contender in the annual "I can't believe a studio exec thought this would make money" contest, Ravenous is a definite curiosity -- an anti-food movie. (The lingering close-ups of food don't exactly make one want to run out to the nearest restaurant.) A surprisingly good one, as it takes its cannibalistic plotline seriously -- think of it as a vampire tale with a bit more meat on its bones. But first the film has to suffer through a rather dismal first half as we're privy to some seriously hammy overacting from the likes of David Arquette and Robert Carlyle. Jeffrey Jones' superb supporting turn as Fort Spencer's matter-of-fact commandant is easily the best thing about this part of Ravenous.
Luckily, most of them bite it halfway through (in one of the film's two wonderfully effective (and lengthy) battles with Carlyle's wendigo.), and the film's second half becomes a far stronger contest of will between Carlyle (much better during this stretch of the movie) and Guy Pearce's Cpt. Boyd, who himself has indulged in long pig. The second mano a mano fight between Pearce and Carlyle is a model of tenseness, and how Pearce dispatches Carlyle is gruesomely approriate. Intriguing, if over the map, score by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman -- it's a large reason why the film's two nailbiters are so darn effective, but at other times it's far too jaunty for what's occuring onscreen.