Into the Wild (2007) - 2-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Adventure / Biographical / Drama
Paramount Vantage || R - 148 minutes - $35.98 || March 4, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-03-27


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Sean Penn
Writer(s): Jon Krakauer (book); Sean Penn (adapted by)
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook


Theatrical Release Date: September 21, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The Story, the Characters
  • The Experience
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Into the Wild is based on the true story chronicling the journey of Christopher McCandless (Hirsch). After graduating college and with the sudden realization of his future in front of him, to go along with two catatonic parents (figuratively speaking), Chris cuts up all his credit cards, sends his savings to UNICEF and burns his social security card and takes off on a trip to the Alaskan wilderness. To get there, he hitchhikes cross country meeting all sorts of people including: ďhippiesĒ Rainey and Jan (Keener); a young singer named Tracy (Stewart); Wayne (Vaughn), a farm worker/manager; and Ron Franz (Holbrook), an older man with no family.

Under the surface, I can appreciate why many are fond of this movie. Itís inspirational, thought-provoking, features great performances from an array of people, some not professional actors, and it is a beautiful looking movie. Yet at the same time, very little of it spoke to me or kept me involved with Chris and his story. I liked the ideals of stepping away from a world growing more materialistic as the years go by where men and women dive into financial situations they have no business diving into. We live in a society where we act first, think later and suffer the consequences (but still would be willing to do it all over again). On that front, Into the Wild is a worthwhile endeavor.

Based on Jon Krakauerís bestselling novel, Into the Wild was adapted and skillfully directed by Sean Penn. Penn paints a portrait of a man with issues. Heís not perfect. I have my own issues with Chris (perhaps as both a character and a real person), but I find little fault with how Penn, and Hirsch, portrays him. The majority of us dream of going on some sort of journey or adventure but rarely do we ever do it. So on the basis of the movieís ďmessageĒ (for lack of a better term), Into the Wild works, but it isnít a very compelling movie.

As great as Emile Hirsch is, and the rest of the cast for that matter, I found it hard to really like Christopher. Kudos to him for wanting to live off the grid and shun a society growing more and more materialistic but he came across as more selfish when it came to his relationship with his sister. Perhaps she indeed knew him so well that she didnít need to hear or read a word from him for years, but it just seemed a bit callous.

But, one cannot overlook a fantastic performance from Hirsch who was sadly passed over for the Oscars. His transformation is reminiscent that of Christian Bale in The Machinist, though not quite as dramatic physically speaking, it's amazing. And while I never was engaged with the story on a deeper level, I can still appreciate writer/director Sean Pennís -- and cinematographer Eric Gautier -- beautiful visuals to go along with some unique folk music by Eddie Vedder and Kaki King. It may not have touched me the same as it did for so many others, but there is merit to sitting through this movie.

Into the Wild co-stars William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Why Paramount released a ď2-Disc Collectorís EditionĒ is beyond me and even more puzzling is the fact that the two, yes two, features couldíve easily fit on the first disc. So for those choosing, youíll have to pay $10 or so extra to get features that, quite frankly, arenít that great to begin with.

First up is Into the Wild: The Story, the Characters (21:53), a basic making-of featurette that covers every aspect of filming from the locations to casting. Sean Penn talks about his experience with this project over the 10 years heís been involved while Hirsch speaks about his thoughts on McCandless and the character.

Next is Into the Wild: The Experience (17:17) another featurette thatís more of an off-shoot of the Ďmaking-ofí where we get a closer look at filming and also going to the places where the real Chris went on his way to Alaska.

Making matters worse, both featurettes are presented in NON-anamorphic widescreen. So, you get an entire disc for these paltry features and it isnít even in anamorphic widescreen??? Really?

One thing that was in anamorphic widescreen was the theatrical trailer. That makes sense...



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Into the Wild is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 AR. Movies that feature nature like this does can only be filmed in the widest aspect ratio and Penn makes full use of every square inch afforded to him. It isnít a stunningly eye catching kind of movie but you still canít help be impressed.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is strong but not overpowering. Being that this is a drama with either quiet moments or talking, the speakers get used with the score and songs.



.::OVERALL::.

Although I am not as in love with this movie as some and even though I honestly did not care about the character or his story, Into the Wild is a worthwhile time investment for its solid performances and beautiful landscaping. Would I suggest buying this 2-disc edition? No. The features arenít all that encompassing but the film might be worth it.