Into the Wild - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Into the Wild Reviews

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Dave Calhoun
Time Out
November 18, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out
November 17, 2011
| Original Score: 4/5
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Bob Mondello
NPR.org
October 18, 2008
As [Hirsch] struggles with the elements, his increasing frailty and the cinematography's increasing grandeur mesh in a way that's at once iconic and wrenching.
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Amy Nicholson
I.E. Weekly
February 22, 2008
Penn's main idea about going native is making eye contact with a deer.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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David Jenkins
Time Out
November 8, 2007
The photography is of the sort you'd find in any half decent nature documentary, with cloying emphasis placed firmly (and sometimes clumsily) on the idea that our neglectful, selfish and not to mention rampantly capitalist ways are destroying the planet.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/6
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David Ansen
Newsweek
November 1, 2007
Hirsch, who carries the film on his increasingly emaciated shoulders, performs heroically, but there's an edge missing.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 5, 2007
The movie tries its hardest to celebrate the impetuousness of its hero and the exhilaration of his accomplishments. Mostly, though, it just reminds you of the severity of his mistakes.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
October 5, 2007
Without diminishing the deep transcendentalist yearnings of its young hero, Into the Wild builds to a climax of profound human connectedness, profound human pain.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
October 5, 2007
Into the Wild takes your heart and shakes it, offering inspiration, exasperation and blunt realization in a true story of one young man's dream and nightmare.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
October 5, 2007
It's a beautiful, big, sorrowful film that manages to celebrate America while reexamining what it has stood for and what it has become.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
October 5, 2007
It is we who are made a little more complete for wrestling with, and watching, Penn's film.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
October 4, 2007
It's a gorgeous, self-assured, thrilling and entertainingly intimate epic, an actor's picture in front of and behind the camera.
| Original Score: 5/5
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David Denby
New Yorker
October 1, 2007
Sean Penn's Into the Wild is certainly visual -- it's entirely too visual, to the point of being cheaply lyrical.
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
September 28, 2007
Super '70s in both style and sensibility, Into the Wild does for vagabond New Age souls what Deliverance did for misguided suburban macho.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
September 28, 2007
Beautifully structured and performed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
September 28, 2007
In its expansive spirit of investigation and embrace of life as a creative act, Into the Wild comes as close as any picture ever made to capturing the America that Jack Kerouac discovered half a century ago.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
September 28, 2007
This is one of those movies I can imagine deciding is a masterpiece in a month's time. And by any measure, "Into the Wild" is a big leap forward for Penn as a director and deserves to be one of the most talked about films of the season.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 28, 2007
Sean Penn's spellbinding film adaptation of this book stays close to the source.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 28, 2007
Sequences are gorgeously filmed by cinematographer Eric Gautier, and they're heady with the joy of discovery -- they make you want to hit the road into the magnificent landscape we forget is out there.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 28, 2007
A road movie with a lofty message that too frequently gets lost in its own thematic barrens. Whereas Krakauer's disturbing book sticks with you, Penn's movie, wrapped in the balloon of its fanciful rhetoric, just floats off.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
September 28, 2007
It's [Penn's] warmest, most celebratory and most completely realized film and, though you might not guess it from the material, it is also arguably his most personal.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 28, 2007
As actor and director, Penn long has been drawn to the existential and elemental. Life and death. Remorse and revenge. All these themes converge -- symphonically -- in Into the Wild, his most fully realized work as a director.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
September 27, 2007
though it's easy to dismiss McCandless' hippified musings and near-suicidal choices as the misguided actions of a kid who read Walden a little too closely in college, Penn's film aims for something more, a deeper telling of a tale of yearning and escape.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
September 27, 2007
A murky screenplay leaves most of the humans ciphers, save for Hal Holbrook in an exquisitely calibrated performance as the avuncular desert retiree whose advice McCandless should have heeded.
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 27, 2007
The film, I am convinced, is unforgettable.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 27, 2007
If Into the Wild falls short of giving McCandless an indelible cinematic life, the film gets under your skin anyway. It doesn't feel improvised, exactly, but it does feel inhabited.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
September 27, 2007
Sean Penn sings a powerful and poetic hymn to America with "Into the Wild," his sweeping, sensitive and deeply affecting adaptation of Jon Krakauer's best-selling book.
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Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
September 27, 2007
I happen to think Sean Penn is one of our more admirable knotheads -- a fearless actor, a bold controversialist and, as he proved with The Pledge, a very strong director, capable of far subtler moral complexity than Into the Wild affords.
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
September 25, 2007
Sean Penn does a great job.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 24, 2007
Penn performs one bit of sleight-of-hand on the book that's borderline unforgivable.
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
September 22, 2007
This saga was the subject of Into the Wild, a short but fascinating book by Jon Krakauer that, 11 years later, has resulted in a gorgeously photographed and less intermittently fascinating 2 1/2-hour film by Sean Penn.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 21, 2007
It's a smart script that has a nice respect for books, ideas and the written word.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 21, 2007
Captivating and multifaceted. Written and directed by Sean Penn, the film is a haunting and moving experience, highlighted by evocative original music by Eddie Vedder.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
September 21, 2007
Overly romanticized.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
September 20, 2007
Tempting as it might be to dismiss McCandless as a hare-brained hippie, he's not so easily reduced, and Penn does well to honor his slippery nature, even as he's clearly awed by his grand adventure.
| Original Score: A-
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
September 20, 2007
If nature -- if life -- is as wild and precious as the movie makes it out to be, Hirsch needs to give us something, someone, to watch on-screen. We need to feel a presence before we can take the measure of an absence.
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 20, 2007
There is plenty of sorrow to be found in Into the Wild But though the film's structure may be tragic, its spirit is anything but.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
September 20, 2007
Penn has a real feeling for the stray moments in life that suddenly rush up and overwhelm us with emotion. He also has an eye for beauty in the wilds, of which this film has many. And he's very good with actors.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
September 20, 2007
Penn's film burns with native intelligence, never tipping into hagiography, and always doing what very few purveyors of McCandless' story have been able or willing to do. It engages with him on his own terms.
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
September 20, 2007
Into the Wild is a bittersweet odyssey of opportunities lost and paradise found.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Mark Holcomb
Time Out
September 20, 2007
Penn's entitled to his reading of McCandless's story, of course, but envisioning it as a Stations of the Cross with a backpack is bizarre and disrespectful.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/6
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 20, 2007
Into the Wild represents Penn's most assured and affecting work yet as director and screenwriter, in the wake of The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard and The Pledge.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 19, 2007
Into the Wild will haunt anyone willing to take the trip.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
September 18, 2007
Penn depicts this flawed figure with all the richness and complexity you'd find in the unforgiving Alaskan terrain, presenting McCandless in both his selflessness and selfishness without once judging him or turning him into a martyr.
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Jim Emerson
RogerEbert.com
September 18, 2007
Penn's empathy with his driven hero is unmistakable and deeply felt.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 17, 2007
Into the Wild is all over the place and ultimately, I think, wrongheaded in its attack. But [Director Sean] Penn gives it the good old college try -- or perhaps I should say, the good old society-dropout try.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 17, 2007
By the end of the movie, I don't know that I liked Chris, but I understood him and sympathized with him, and sometimes that's more important.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Dennis Harvey
Variety
September 5, 2007
Sean Penn delivers a compelling, ambitious work that will satisfy most admirers of the book.
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Sura Wood
Hollywood Reporter
August 31, 2007
While the material seems to warrant understated, direct storytelling...Penn opts for epic proportions and clutters his narrative with gimmicks.