Letting Go
Into the Wild
Review by Ross Anthony

Perhaps destined to follow the same emotional arc as the true story it portrays, the film starts with great promise, passion, and inspiration only to quietly wane.

Having broken away from everyday society to travel the world for a year myself, I greatly -- greatly -- appreciated the reminder of that true freedom. Comparatively, my travels never rose to the purity of Alexander Supertramp's who eventually found himself alone in Alaska with only that which he could carry on his back. There's a scene in which he cuts his credit cards and Driver's license completely ridding himself of the anchor chains of modern society. Those of us reconnected, or never disconnected, often forget the burden of this connection. It's an annoying humming sound that when it finally ceases – causes a gasp of relief, your tensed shoulder blades relax. You didn't even know you were under such stress -- until the stress is removed. It takes some insight and a lot of bravery to remove oneself from society's expectations and bureaucratic ties, to seek the truer beauty of human life. So, I admire Chris' gumption, despite the outcome.

However, "Into the Wild" is a cinematic release and as such its audiences will be expecting, and dare I say deserve, a powerful climax. And given the setting, I'd have expected a welling emotional one here. But, the film offers little toward that, except to tell the facts of Alexander's story. Perhaps, a documentary would have been better suited (or simply a read of the book).

I enjoyed most of the ride, though the last 30 minutes left me antsy and unsatisfied. Sean Penn is an outstanding actor; I've got great respect for him there. And even given the facts of this story, I think he could have challenged himself to have been true to Chris and at the same time given his cinema-going audience a climactic ending.

Btw, allow me to go off on a tangent regarding Sean Penn. Back before the American people allowed themselves to be swept into an ill-advised war with Iraq, Penn took criticism for traveling to Iraq himself to make up his own mind about the situation. I am no expert on politics, on war, or Sean Penn (I've never met or interviewed him) -- but I think that those who criticized him for taking the trip were short-sighted. In that act, he exemplified the spirit of America that seems so lost lately. He assumed innocence before he judged and he sought the truth of the matter despite what some would call a dangerous, naïve, or un-American move. Now, I'm not saying I agree with his politics, but at a time when the average American, in an atmosphere of fear, found it easier to shut off their thinking caps and turn on their TV for decisions -- Penn got on an airplane and put on his hiking boots. That seems pretty darned American to me.

-- Books by Author Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • Into the Wild. Copyright © 2007.
  • Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener, Jena Malone, Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Brian Dierker. Directed by Sean Penn. Screenplay by Sean Penn. Produced by Sean Penn, Art Linson, Bob Pohlad at Paramount Vantage/River Road/C.I.H /Square One.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 15-Jul-2008 11:46:29 PDT