I hope “The Revenant” creates a new wave of superhero movies: A vaguely dark and unpredictable storyline, CGI that doesn’t make me feel like I’m watching someone play video games for 90 minutes and involves watching Leonardo DiCaprio crawl through the dirt to the Oscar podium.
The story line of “The Revenant” is undeniably pulled by DiCaprio’s quiet but chilling performance. His character, based on the quiet real-life hero Hugh Glass, was a frontiersman in the early 1800s. Glass’ fur trapping expeditions in Missouri and South Dakota were recognized by author Michael Punke in his 2002 novel of the same title, and adapted to the big screen by writer Mark L. Smith and director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
“Everything about [The Revenant] was perfect,” said April Haling, Chico Cinemark 14 manager. “The score, the acting performances, the directing and the cinematography—the cinematography was just incredible.”
Incidentally, the mute button could be on and the aesthetics of this movie alone could keep you captivated for the entirety of the 156 minutes. Seen in award-winning films such as “Gravity” and “Birdman,” Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is one contribution granting this film such significance.
Filmed on location in Montana, the Canadian Rockies and Argentina, Lubezski used the natural light to capture the bleak, sub-civilized American Midwest in the 1820s. The results provide a raw and captivating backdrop for each scene, almost becoming a part of the movie alongside the rest of the cast.
Being the antithesis of a Spaghetti Western, “The Revenant” captures the unwelcoming reality of America after the Revolutionary War. With each passing scene, death lingers in the form of arrows flying through the air, musket fire, grizzly bears and betrayal.
After a ruthless attack from the Arikata, a Native American tribe, Glass and his remaining fellow trappers are forced to pack up the remaining furs (a form of currency) and head back to their fort in Colorado.
“The action really starts to kick in after [Glass] gets mauled by that bear,” says Shawn Ray, Chico Cinemark 14 employee. “It was so realistic.”
However, being mauled is only the beginning of Glass’ problems. John Fitzgerald, missing half of his scalp from surviving a Native American attack, is a deceitful fellow frontiersman that will do anything to get paid. That includes killing Glass’ son and leaving him for dead in a snowy shallow grave. “Proper thing to do would be to finish him off quick,” Fitzgerald says, referring to the fate of Glass after the bear attack.
Fitzgerald, played by the brilliant Tom Hardy, is a role seemingly tailored to the British-born actor’s genius. His performance equally rivals that of DiCaprio’s in every aspect. His dialect, mannerisms, grim facial expressions: these all provide the perfect supporting role of a definitive villain.
Conventional flick? Not by any means. If you’re seeking a typical film that won’t raise a few questions after the credits, wait until the next Michael Bay effort is released. “The Revenant” is an authentic account of a place during a time period where unanswered questions are still scattered among history books.
Is there action? Absolutely.
2016 is going to be the year Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy battle for that Oscar.
Matthew Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewmanfredi on Twitter.