Monday, February 23, 2009

Into the Wild - Directed by Sean Penn

Okay. There's going to be alot less profanity in my reviews from this day forth, as my blog is now being used to review movies and write essays and other things of that nature for my Media Studies class at school.
Anyway, I'll start my review now.
Into the Wild was released in 2007, based on a non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer in 1996 (which I didn't know until the end of the movie) about a huge adventure by a 22 year old man named Christopher McCandless. The film takes place over two years in which he hikes into the wilderness on a journey to Alaska. After graduating from University (that's college for all the americans) he donates $24,000 of the $47,000 given to him by his family to charity and sets off on a long tramp to search out a life of peace and solitude under his new self-given name; "Alexander Supertramp". This is mainly due to his parents, and their domestic violence and the pain they had caused him as a child. Later on it explains something that "changed his life around, and made him feel as though his entire childhood was fiction (and some nice metaphors also)". He meets many interesting people and does alot of things that most people would NEVER think of doing for fun.

The most negative thing that I can say about this movie is the opening title. The opening title saying "INTO THE WILD" looks quite child-like, and looks like it has been inserted with windows movie maker. The beginning shows graphics in the form of a letter that Chris wrote to somebody that he met on his travels. Everything is perfect up until when the writing that says "INTO THE WILD" changes from it's simple good looking lettering and expands and turns green and blocky. The green-ness and largeness may be symbolism of some sort to describe clean green land and it's vastness (represented by the growing) but I doubt it very much...I doubt whether alot of so-called symbolism in movies these days is put in deliberately unless it's very obvious. Okay I shall stop ranting about that now. The film begins in Alaska, where Chris starts tramping through the snow and finds an empty bus, which he calls "The Magic Bus". Throughout the movie it flicks backwards and forwards to his time at the magic bus and his journey that began 2 years before he finds it. The book begins very differently, in the same way that the movie ends, but I can't spoil the ending for you. I will in the next paragraph though, so it might be an idea to skip it.

SPOILER ALERT! (scroll down)

After eating a poisonous plant that looks similar to an edible plant that he was searching for, he dies. His body and a book he had been writing on his travels were discovered by moose hunters, along with a self portrait (which is now famous) undeveloped inside his camera. The make-up and hair artists did a great job in making Emile Hirsch look like the real Chris McCandless. In the end he forgives his parents for his childhood, and goes with a smile on his face. This was an extremely powerful ending.

Alright, enough spoilers. The imagery in this movie is great, as the landscape and the environment that Chris travels through is so amazing looking and wild and so far away from civilisation. The shots taken from a helicopter are incredible and show some amazing american views that you almost never see on TV. This movie shows that America really is a beautiful country.

All in all, this movie has quite an original and interesting story which is enhanced by the fact that it was based on real events in Chris's life. It is a drama movie with quite a bit of adventure, so you can't expect to see alot of action in it. Alot of people might just turn it off in the first five minute from being bored, but that's because they don't know what to expect from films within this genre. One thing that hooked me in was the great soundtrack by Eddie Vedder (the lead singer of Pearl Jam). This made me enjoy the movie a whole lot more, and had me humming for half of the movie (which probably annoyed some people). The fact that the way the movie is presented could scare away younger people stopped me from marking this movie with an 8.5/10, because everyone is always looking for action and comedy. I give this film an 8/10 (and I do remind you that I still mark conservatively) for it's emotion-inducing factor, the memorable and informative dialogue, and the character of Chris McCandless, who is so likeable throughout the full 2 hours.

If you like a nice and meaningful story with lots of incredible scenes of nature and wildlife, I would definitely recommend this movie for you.

I am barely ever seeing original movies like this anymore. The industry needs some more fresh ideas and this was just the thing, even though it was based on a book. That discovery made me lose a little bit of the extreme respect I had for the director after seeing this movie...If it was a completely original fiction then it's score would have had to have been a 9/10 from me.