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Into the Wild (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) - drama DVD review
rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 5 stars
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener
Director: Sean Penn   Studio: Paramount
DVD release: 04 March 2008   Runtime: 148 minutes (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Audio Tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; French, Spanish), "Into the Wild: The Story, the Characters," "Into the Wild: The Experience"

Some movies with short runtimes feel like they will never end. In other cases, a long movie is so well done or you so identify with the character or plot seems to go by so fast that, when it ends, you can't believe that it's over. For me, INTO THE WILD falls into the latter category.

Based on the book by Jon Krakauer and adapted for the screen by Sean Penn (who does an amazing job directing as well), INTO THE WILD tells the story of a young man named Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) who comes from a troubled home and literally throws it all away (a bright future, worldly possessions) to go on a search to find himself, or inner peace within himself; it all depends on how you interpret it. The great thing about this film is that it doesn't spoon-feed you ideas. You can decide for yourself whether he is a genuine, unencumbered free spirit or a rebel lost in his own idealism. Maybe, to varying degrees, he was both - a free spirit until he was overwhelmed by an existence of subsistence.

The well-sculpted film moves at a nice pace, telling the story in chapters and switching back and forth between his vagabond adventures and his time in Alaska in an abandoned bus. After graduating Emory University, McCandless gives his savings away to charity and cuts up all forms of identification - even burning his social security card and, later on, the little bit of cash he has taken with. As we watch his travels, McCandless is befriended by well-meaning people along the way: a middle-aged hippie couple (Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker), a widowed old army veteran (Hal Holbrook), and a character played by Vince Vaughn who tells him not to think too much.

But McCandless doesn't heed any of the advice given to him. He doesn't realize until it's too late that happiness is a shared experience, and that isolating himself from the world isn't the best long-term plan. By this point in the film, you are so attached to McCandless that it's devastating to see it all go for naught. Or was it all for naught? Perhaps the adventure and the seemingly idyllic plan of being in the Alaskan wild was the spiritual journey he wanted, good, bad, or indifferent. No matter your point of view on McCandless's decisions, INTO THE WILD is a captivating journey worth experiencing.
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reviewed by Bobby Blades
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