R Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée | Twentieth Century Fox | 1h 55min
Plot: What’s it about?
I’ve never been a real outdoorsy type of person. I’m not saying fun can’t be had, but the idea of camping doesn’t hold much interest to me. If I can get on a hand, I think it’d be less than three times that I have actually been camping in my life, but to each their own. Wild follows Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) on a 1,100 mile solo hike after she needs to get away and clear her head. The film is fact-based and uses flashbacks of Cheryl’s past life throughout. You might’ve heard much of the praise given to Witherspoon for her performance here, and for good reason. While I don’t think it’s the performance to end all, so to speak, she still does great work here. It’s on the level of Charlize Theron from Monster, though it’s not as much of a transformation in terms of her actual appearance in the film. In Monster, Theron was hardly recognizable, but Witherspoon is always identifiable here. The film itself will likely trigger closer memories Into the Wild with Emile Hirsch. I prefer that film to this, but this has its moments. While Into the Wildended on a sad note, this film’s ending (while abrupt) is far more optimistic.
I think what will be most remembered about the film is Witherspoon’s performance. It’s very gritty and real, but little else about the film stayed with me. I was anticipating the story feeling a bit meandering, but it still didn’t hold my interest like I would’ve preferred. There’s a good deal of repetition to the story. We see Cheryl hitchhike several times, flashbacks to her life before she embarked on her hike as well as scenes between her and her mother, played by Laura Dern. Still, I can’t say it did much for me. I mentioned Into the Wild earlier in my review, and that film struck a chord with me. I think the story gripped me more as well as Sean Penn’s direction and the strong central performance from Emile Hirsch. I don’t it to seem like I’m being too hard on the film as it did hold my interest. I think I was just expecting more from it. I’d be lying if I said I’d revisit it any time soon. Still, it’s a great showcase for Reese Witherspoon, who gives what is arguably her best performance to date. I just wish the story could rise to the occasion.
Video: How’s it look?
Fox gives us a terrific transfer here. The AVC encoded (2.39:1 ratio) transfer is consistently solid throughout. Colors were always bright and even. It’s certainly a visual film in terms of scenery and the transfer does more than its duty. Flesh tones were even and smooth with no issues to speak of. The print is clean and free of any noticeable issues as well. In short: Fans will be pleased.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track presents the film nicely. Make no mistake, this isn’t a film to show off your system, but the track still delivers the goods. Background noise is heard on occasion as well as the scenes out in the wild. Vocals were always clear with no distortion. Like the transfer, this track satisfies and gets the job done.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Fox has given us a nice assortment of extras. Admittedly, it may seem like much more on the surface, but most of features are much briefer than you might expect. Still, there’s just enough here to please fans of the film.
- Audio Commentary – We get a running track with Jean-Marc Vallee, Bruna Papandrea and David Greenbaum.
- Deleted Scenes (7:49) – These can be viewed with or without optional commentary. Expect more of the same here. Mostly these are just mild extensions that were wisely cut. There’s nothing of importance.
- The Real Cheryl Strayed (8:37) – This is an informative piece on the real life character portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the film. We see some of the shooting locations as well as interviews with some of the cast.
- The Real Location Is the Best Location (8:45) – This simply takes a look at the authenticity of shooting on location. It’s fairly interesting, but also straightforward.
- How much Does a Monster Weigh? (3:46) –We’re treated to a look at the bag that the Witherspoon character carries in the film. It takes a look at how heavy it is, and the items inside it.
- Pacific Crest Trail Interactive Map – This feature sounds cooler than it is. It simply shows a map of Cheryl’s travels and if we click on it, we see a clip from the film at that particular spot. Outside of the visual map detailing the particular day and number of miles, there’s not much interactive about it. Still, it’s a worthy effort.
- Promotional Featurettes – This is a series of smaller behind the scenes vignettes detailing various aspects of the film. Obviously, they’re promotional in nature, but there’s decent info scattered throughout.
- Experiencing the Pacific Crest Trail: A Special Message from Cheryl Strayed (1:47) – This just shows Cheryl discussing the trail and her hopes that it’ll be discovered by many more.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Gallery – This is pretty self-explanatory and the stills can either be viewed manually or automatically.
- Collectible Booklet – This is a short insert that includes notes from Cheryl Strayed.
- Digital Copy
The Bottom Line
Despite the praise it received, Wild didn’t do much for me. It’s neither a winner nor a dud. Still, Witherspoon gives a solid performance and it’s a decent enough rental. Fox has done a great job with the disc as well.