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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Counterculture > Biography > Into The Wild (2007/Paramount DVD Set)

Into The Wild (2007/Paramount DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



Expectations were high for Sean Penn adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild, which made it out as a critically acclaimed film by Penn in 2007 with Emile Hirsch as the recent college graduate who decides to leave everything behind.  The idea is to show how this young man is so sick of material things and how dysfunctional his family is because of them, that he wants to leave it all behind.


Understandable and we have seen this kind of story told before, but instead of effectively making a break from the unnatural/junked/material world to the natural/spread out/living one, the screenplay by Penn is so muddled and awkward, in addition to his directing, that we never get the impact of the story or message as he cannot deliver it despite a good supporting cast (including William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Jena Malone, Hal Holbrook (glad to see him again), Catherine Keener and even Vince Vaughn) and a long running time of 148 minutes to say what it needs to say.


Hirsch is good, but has moments where his performance does not gel with the character and this is not the character study it should have been, though that is on Penn.  Though sincere and ambitious, this is not Penn’s best directing and whatever alternative or counterculture ideas offered, they are never fully realized.  The result is a good film that was also more disappointing than expected.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is visually pleasant and though detail and depth can be weak, the better moments of performance just edge out the problematic ones.  This was issued on HD-DVD, but Paramount is not sending any press copies, so we’ll wait to see how much better the Blu-ray looks when it is finally announced.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is better than the Dolby 2.0 Stereo, but is dialogue based, leaving the surrounds for good ambient performance and the Eddie Vedder-sung songs.  Extras include two featurettes on DVD 2, The Story, The Characters and The Experience.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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