THE REVENANT: The IMAX Experience (2016) Review
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Inspired by true and unbelievable events, The Revenant is set in the 1820s where a group of trappers who hunt for pelts in the wilderness. The story opened in an eerie dream-like sequence, building the mysteries about to unfold as the story progresses. And cuts to Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Hugh Glass, the most experienced hunter of the group gunning something in the wilderness with his son. The production is magnificent, it’s as if everything looks and feels authentic. The weather, the forest, the air they breathe, everything looks genuine on screen. As the gunshot echoes the mountains, the wild, cuts to John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy finishing his pee, worried about the sound as it may invite the Arikara Native Americans in which they are keeping away from because the location is their territory.
But they were already been tracked and about to be ambushed. A naked man calls for help but gets arrowed behind, body falls front flat. Everyone panicked, one of them urges to warn everyone but instantly gets shot by an arrow on his neck, resulting his death. Tension builds as the group searches for the source of the attacks. Everybody in a ready stance, slowly backing off where the arrows came from but gets shot one by one, guns being shot to nowhere leading to their own group’s death. As the Native American’s group makes their presence seen, everything gets even more suspenseful thanks to its scoring and camera works. Arrows shots, here and there, more and more from their group with Captain Andrew Henry’s command gets aimed down by arrows, Glass hurriedly goes to their group and urges the group to retreat and go to the boat. While they successfully goes there, a huge number of their members didn’t make it.
Here is one of the most unbelievable sequence you will see in a movie. You might be familiar with Inarritu’s works which are long takes that looks insanely unthinkable how it was shot. Here, it’s even crazier as the location isn’t pleasant for shooting a film, a 360 degrees action scene is being shot where arrows and guns are being shots everywhere. It’s literally chaos in front and behind the camera. It’s unimaginable. Some of the killings are happening way close to the camera that it feels unbearable to watch at times. As they close to the boat, more and more Natives are arriving, arrows are still flying from every direction as they escape and leaves a tragic scene where deaths are mourned by the ones who are still alive.
As they travel by water, conversation is used for introduction to the characters. Tom Hardy as Fitzgerald isn’t the most pleasant of them all but he’s helpful most of the time. Leonardo DiCaprio as Glass is the group’s guide, as Captain Henry played by Domhnall Gleeson takes advices from him. Everyone listens to Glass, as he looks and sounds like he knows what he’s doing and it’s the best way to deal with things. They left the boat and continued on to travel on foot. While most disagrees especially Fitzgerald, who complains from left to right that everything is Glass’ fault, who was scalped by the natives, a process where part of the human scalp is being removed along with the hair.
As the group stops for rest, Glass roamed around and was ambushed by a bear. Yes, this is the infamous scene where Leonardo gets clawed, chewed and thrown like a sack of rice being transported. It may sound overly hyped but it’s unbelievable yet it looks real, thanks to DiCaprio’s performance. With a near death experience that lead Glass unable to move and speak hardly, Fitzgerald suggests that they should leave him and should just kill him for them to just move on and he’ll just slow things down. But having too much debt with Glass’ contribution, the group decided to leave Glass with someone to accompany him before he dies. His son, Hawk, young Jim Bridger and Fitzgerald offers their services to stay behind with Glass. Suspicious as it may sound, Captain Henry leaves them and directs the group forward on their journey home.
While young Jim Bridger is refilling canteen with water at the lake, Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass but Hawk discovers him in action leading to Fitzgerald fighting him and killing the half-native son of Glass as he helplessly watches. Bridges returns and Fitzgerald says Hawk is missing and that they should leave immediately as the Arikara are close behind, Glass can’t protest to any of Fitzgerald’s words as he is unable to speak. So Fitzgerald, drags Glass into a grave he dug and lets Bridger decide whether to kill Glass or not as he doesn’t have that much time to live because of his condition. Bridger left Glass his canteen and leaves with Fitzgerald, not knowing anything that happened to Hawk.
Though incredibly wounded, Glass slowly recovers with the help of his rage to seek revenge for the death of his son. Still running away from the Arikara, Glass struggled but still manages to live though being carried by the waves to escape them or having to live through plants, raw fish and other edible things he can eat nearby. He then meets Hikuc, a friendly Pawnee who gives him raw meat just sliced off from a bull with blood still flows from it. The two travel together as Glass recovers but one day finds Hikuc hanged by a group of French pelt hunters. He infiltrates the base of the Frech hunters who is lead by someone raping a woman at that time, he saves the woman and takes Hikuc’s horse leaving Bridger’s canteen. He encounters the Arikara again and escapes by galloping through a cliff, though still alive, he’s been hurt and decided to spend the night inside the body of the horse where he removed the inside parts for him to fit inside.
At Fort Kiowa where the group stays, a lone hunter arrives and tries to sell things including Bridger’s canteen, they then asked him where he got it which lead them to think that Glass might still be alive. And though Bridger knew that Fitzgerald only tricked him about the Arikaras to leave Glass, he had no idea of his condition and of the death of Hawk. They formed a group to locate and rescue Glass but it was easy for them as Glass was already near. Henry brought Glass at the fort furiously looking for Bridger and Fitzgerald who left Glass helpless but still very much alive. Though Henry charges Bridger with Treason, Glass cleared that he didn’t know anything and was just following orders.
Fitzgerald, who also stole their money left the fort and escaped because he knew about his faith the moment they knew about Glass being alive. Henry and Glass head out to find Fitzgerald, as the wilds is more than they can handle, the two decided to split up but Fitzgerald got to Henry and Glass found him dead and scalped. Glass lays a trap, setting Henry’s body in his horse as a dummy which Fitzgerald takes as he shoots it without any doubt. Fitzgerald closes to the body which he found out to be Henry’s and then Glass shoots Fitzgerald in the shoulder. Wounded as he may be, Fitzgerald manages to run and the two exchanges gunshots as Glass chases Fitzgerald. He chases him into the woods and they engage in a bloody fight on a river bank. Glass is about to kill Fitzgerald, but remembers Hikuc’s words and pushes him downstream into the hands of the Arikara. The chief, accompanied by the woman who was raped by the French hunter, scalps and kills Fitzgerald but spares Glass. Glass walks away and collapses. He has a vision of his wife, who smiles at him before disappearing into the woods.
The Revenant is an epic revenge film that goes beyond filmmaking with its treatment. It might be hard to follow its story and character as they are a puzzle that is solved as the story moves forward. And though it might feel not as impactful as the pictures suggests, the film is an experience worth seeing. And with the IMAX screens and its superb sound system, it’s as if the cinematic experience is elevated to something wildly absorbing. Leonardo DiCaprio is clearly insane for doing this, not only are his acting here is impressive but the amount of effort put into Inarritu’s way of filming the movie is mad. It’s only sad that the character wasn’t developed for the audience to embrace deeply. Having his character gone through a non-linear emotional story makes it hard for the audience to actually feel his emotional journey.
The film is uneasy to watch as it presents gore and scenes that will turn your stomach upside down. The story might be a bit disappointing but everything else is done impressively. Alejandro Inarritu’s works are incredible, but The Revenant was way beyond anything you can imagine for a film. As to how it was made and how it was envisioned.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
“The Revenant” opens February 3 in Philippine cinemas and IMAX Theatres nationwide from 20th Century Fox, locally distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.