Directed by Sean Penn
USA 2007

 

In Sean Penn's first three helmed efforts - The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995), and The Pledge (2001) - each project seemed to advance upon each other - improving in the areas of pace, visual treatment and encapsulation and expression of subtext. My anticipation to view Into the Wild was skyrocketing upon first hearing of the production. This was especially true as, later, a good friend, (who sees over 150 films a year in theatres), stated that it was the best he had seen in 2007. Now that I have had the opportunity to view it (three times!) I enthusiastically agree (and yes, I have seen There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men). Into the Wild is up for Academy Award accolades in Best Achievement in Editing and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Hal Holbrook). The fact that it was not nominated for Best Picture or Penn for Best Director is only further proof at how ridiculously unremarkable achieving that statuette has become. It has evolved itself to be as worthless and meaningless as a Grammy. Just another 'celebrity' glad-handing ceremony of pomposity and flashy hollowness.

 

Into the Wild is based on the best-selling, true story, book by Jon Krakauer. Its highest achieving ideal in the film is how faithfully it expresses the meaning of the protagonist's adventure - reaffirming a spirit of dropping out, lack of caution, and escaping from the dissatisfaction of society's goals and selfish aims. Hippie-esq indeed. Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) is played with quiet zeal by Emile Hirsch - who was recently touted as being 'one of the futures of American acting'. This is a visually appealing road-picture with frequent flashbacks and unique montages explaining McCandless' motivations. It is delivered on screen with detailed precision by Penn.

McCandless' Thoreau-inducing optimism will grate on some - too bad. Critics who see his 'distancing' as unprepared and foolish don't seem to realize that his trek, ending at an abandoned bus outside Alaska’s Denali National Park, was not as much escapism to a 'self-imposed' exile, but as a rebirth... which could only be fully achieved by death. I see his whole dice-rolling adventure as a full-circle  suicide attempt that should have been obvious from episodes like kayaking down the rapids and giving all his money to charity. This is regardless of his diary indicating desperate, although feudal, attempts to survive in the end.  As an highly intelligent product of society and the US College education system (McCandless achieved the grades for Harvard Law), stemming from a wealthy - albeit deeply troubled family existence - McCandless should be as big a warning sign as the latest school shooting massacre. Perhaps a precursor to the mindless instilling of surface values - that we, as a societal whole, just can't seem to take ANYMORE.

 

Penn's defining vision through all this is a most profound statement on modernity, lack of communication and our inability to express honest love. His manner in showcasing the underlying themes of Into the Wild  truly evokes another masterful filmmaker and his similar dissertations on alienation in the modern world - the recently deceased Michelangelo Antonioni. This film is that good folks... and I give it my highest recommendation. out of

Gary Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 9th, 2007 - Toronto Film Festival

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DVD Review: Paramount (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1, 4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

There is a single-disc edition and an HD also coming out March 3rd.

(click covers for more)

   

I'll probably buy and review the HD as the very last of that, now officially dead, format on DVDBeaver.

Distribution Paramount Home Video - Region 1, 4 - NTSC
Runtime 2:27:55 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.57 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Previews
Disc 2

• Featurette: Into the Wild: The Story, The Characters (4:3 letterboxed - interlaced) - 21:53
• 
Featurette: Into the Wild: The Experience - 17:19
• Theatrical trailer (2:32)

DVD Release Date: March 4th, 200
8
Keep Case
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

The Paramount image looks a bit glossy and thick but probably very true to the theatrical intent of the film's cinematography. Expectantly the feature disc is is dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (original) of the film. I wouldn't say it looks stellar but does represent the film very well. I don't see evidence of manipulation although colors can tend to look a shade 'intense' at times. Detail is excellent when called upon. I look forward to the film in 1080P to give further comment on how this SD DVD looks comparatively. For the most part - it is extremely watchable and visuals (Alaskan landscapes) can look quite strong at times. There is both a 2.0 and 5.1 English track offered (and two 2.0 DUBs). The 5.1 is not extensively tested and I sampled both original language options and they supported the film consistently and clearly. There are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles in a bright yellow font. The disc is coded for regions 1 + 4 in the NTSC standard.

The film is almost 2 1/2 hours long and the first disc offers the complete version and some Paramount previews (There Will Be Blood etc.) There, unfortunately is no commentary. I'll assume that this is how the single disc edition is packaged. Disc two has two relatively short featurettes on a single-layered disc - both are 4:3 letterboxed and interlaced. The first is about 21 minutes long and is entitled Into the Wild: The Story, The Characters. It has input from many including Penn, author Jon Krakauer, actor Emile Hirsch are others. It starts with Penn stating how he found the novel in a bookstore one day (he loved the cover), read it twice that same night and starting the following morning spent 10 years getting the rights to make the film. The second featurette is called Into the Wild: The Experience - and runs 17 minutes long focusing a bit more like a 'Behind the Scenes...' with more production specifics and shooting details. There is also a trailer. Frankly I don't think either of the featurettes are worthy enough to be separated from the feature disc and as this appears to be the only supplements on the Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition (which is $5 more than the single disc release). It should be considered a disappointment. I have this fervent hope that more will be on the HD but suspect it will be the same as this one.

My strong recommendation is for the film which gives excellent value. This SD DVD is a good way to watch it and if the extras on disc 2 don't excite you - it may be better to buy the single disc edition. I, hopefully, will review the HD, at some point. As for now simply watch this magnificent film - one way or another.    

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 

Disc 2


 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

There is a single-disc edition and an HD also coming out March 3rd.

(click covers for more)

   

I'll probably buy and review the HD as the very last of that, now officially dead, format on DVDBeaver.

Distribution Paramount Home Video - Region 1, 4 - NTSC




 

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