Into The Wild Review

by Ed Lau on February 11, 2008

Into The Wild, Emile Hirsch, Sean Penn

I’m almost entirely sure I’m the exact opposite of Chris McCandless. I, in fact, enjoy the city skyscrapers, the busy streets and six dollar cups of coffee. I’m almost entirely sure that I’d be bored living in anything other than a metropolis, that the country life, let alone one in the middle of nowhere, is simply not for me.

I say “almost” because there are moments that I, and probably everyone else, feel the romantic pull of a simpler life without cell phones, laptops and fires made with anything other than wood. I mean, I enjoy camping and could probably live without city comforts for awhile but there’s a big difference between fishing and knowing how to start a fire without matches and having to build your own shelter and living off the land. Perhaps that’s why I was so intrigued by Into the Wild, which tells the story of a college graduate who rejects the materialistic life he had in front of him, burns his money and ID and rather than going to Harvard, goes hitchhiking around the country until he eventually ends up in Alaska.

Into The Wild, Emile Hirsch, Sean Penn

Into The Wild is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, or rather “Alexander Supertramp”. Leaving his family and life behind, he starts a new one, hitchhiking, taking odd, simple jobs to earn money and experiencing the world. While basically being a vagabond isn’t all that attractive for many of us, McCandless sees it as being free from the vice grips of his family and their emphasis on status and “things” rather than love and joy. Along the way, Alexander Supertramp meets a lot of people, including hippies, Euro-hippies, a drunken farmer and an old leatherworker who each try to understand McCandless but instead find themselves entranced by his aura.

Into The Wild, Emile Hirsch, Sean Penn, Kristen Stewart

McCandless is played to perfection by Emile Hirsch, who most will remember as the nerdy kid opposite Elisha Cuthbert in the surprisingly good (although most of us watched it expecting an entirely different kind of good…) The Girl Next Door. He looks almost the same as he did three years ago, fitting the role well as you can see the wide-eyed amazement of a young traveller in his eyes. Although McCandless is intelligent and mature beyond his 20 or so years, you can see the joy of youth in his adventures as well as the pain and anger from his upbringing. He is very, very good in this role, which was probably as mentally demanding as it was physically (you’ll see…).

Sean Penn, the director of Into The Wild, is undoubtedly one of the best actors of this generation but he has a bit of a tenancy for being a little pretentious. This is evident in some scenes in the film but overall, it’s storytelling is fantastic. The movie is well-paced and with a deep sense of character. Cinematography is, in a word, majestic, showing off great, sweeping American landscapes. There were some scenes that I felt Penn was pushing things a little too far for the film to handle but things are brought down to earth well thanks to a fantastic soundtrack by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, which has a great rustic, outdoor Americana feel to it.

This is a very interesting film about a man’s search for his own truth, perfect for those of us who sometimes feel a little overwhelmed in the concrete jungle.

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10.

in Entertainment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie February 12, 2008 at 5:31 am

Great Article. I love the country and outdoors. Someday I hope to live
in a Timber Wood home way out in the country.

My husband once told me he met a man that lived all by himself in the mountains
and he was a survivalist. Meaning he know’s how to survive in the

This Article reminded me of that man in the mountains and just plain freedom.
Freedom from it all. I need to get out more and enjoy the woods. I haven’t
done that for along time. It’s a great feeling to go hiking and be at the top
of a mountain and look at everything below you.

Thanks again for sharing this movie with us :)



Derek September 13, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Last night I sat down and watched Into The Wild – fantastic movie! Emile Hirsch played the role beautifully. Typically I am not a fan of movies that bounce around on the time line but I thought it worked well for this movie.

I’m supertramp…and you’re super apple – and you wrote a super review Ed.


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