Seeing a book you really enjoyed made into a movie can be a painful and exhilarating experience.  You want to see the movie turn out wonderfully, but you are also so afraid that they will mess something up.  This was a subject of constant debate in the kingdom of nerds while Lord Of The Rings was being made.  I would be in a state of constant mortification if I ever heard that Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater was being made into a film.  Some books change your life forever and to see them in less than that perfect light can be so painful.  This movie wasn’t on quite that same level, but it was pretty close at times.

Starting this December 16th, now available from Paramount Vantage on Blu-ray Disc, is the latest film written and directed by Sean Penn, Into The Wild.  Pick up this fascinating movie rendition of John Krakauer’s groundbreaking non-fiction book today.

This is the story of Christopher McCandless, a child of privilege who decides to sell or give away almost everything he has to escape his sense of a living death.  He renames himself Alexander Supertramp and travels across America, meeting up with all sorts of people along the way.  There is the rocker chick, the traveling farmer, the wonderful hippies and the best old man you will ever meet.  The whole time, his goal is to make it north to Alaska.  He does and he lives a wonderful life up there until things go tragically wrong.

When I reviewed this film on DVD, I lamented the lack of any special features other than generic trailers for new Paramount movies coming out soon.  This Blu-ray does much to attempt and alleviate that disparity.  It includes the theatrical trailer for the film in high definition, a fascinating and greatly in-depth featurette about what the experience of working on this film was like and just the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for, a featurette which takes a much deeper look at the story of the film and all the important characters we see inside of it.  These are exactly what special features should be like.

This movie does a wonderful job of taking all the right things from the book.  The old man character is expanded just the right amount, Alex is made to seem more competent in the wilderness than the book talks about him being, and he is also portrayed as more of a whining child with his own problems and significant faults.  Emile Hirsch is amazing in this role, far better than I certainly thought he would have been after seeing him in The Girl Next Door.  Sean Penn is wonderful as a director, yet it’s the scenery of Alaska which really takes the cake.  I reviewed this movie on regular DVD and it’s fantastic just how much better it is on Blu-ray.  The picture is more crisp, the special features are better and, although it might sound strange, the story is even more compelling.

Into The Wild is a story about the hunt for adventure inside of each one of us.  It is at once a tale about freedom and chasing our dreams and a cautionary tale of how fickle we all are and how what we most want can kill us.

This Blu-ray Disc is available at Amazon.com.

Nathaniel Jonet

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