“The Ultimate Movie Review!”
“Director Sean Penn Takes This True Story 'Into The Wild' To A Triumphant Achievement”
“Too Long And Not As Visually Entertaining As Anticipated...”
“A Beautiful Film, With A Spectacular Backdrop. Truly Breathtaking”
“Very Few Times We Have Been Able To Follow So Closely The Process Of Thinking Of A Fictional Character. A Film To Watch More Than Once, And To Which Is Impossible To Become Indifferent.”
“It Makes You Think”
“It's Probably The Most Breathtaking Thing I've Ever Seen. If This Movie Doesn't Pick Up A Handful Of Oscars, There Is No Justice In This World.”
Into the Wild will haunt anyone willing to take the trip.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
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.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
There is food for thought and food for every kind of feeling in Sean Penn's outstanding film.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
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.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
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.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
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.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Jack Mathews - New York Daily News
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Without diminishing the deep transcendentalist yearnings of its young hero, Into the Wild builds to a climax of profound human connectedness, profound human pain.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
It is we who are made a little more complete for wrestling with, and watching, Penn's film.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
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.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
Sean Penn's Into the Wild is certainly visual -- it's entirely too visual, to the point of being cheaply lyrical.
David Denby - New Yorker
Sean Penn's spellbinding film adaptation of this book stays close to the source.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
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.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
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.
Andrea Gronvall - Chicago Reader
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.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
The film, I am convinced, is unforgettable.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
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.
Tom Long - Detroit News
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.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Sean Penn delivers a compelling, ambitious work that will satisfy most admirers of the book.
Dennis Harvey - Variety
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.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
It's a gorgeous, self-assured, thrilling and entertainingly intimate epic, an actor's picture in front of and behind the camera.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
Super '70s in both style and sensibility, Into the Wild does for vagabond New Age souls what Deliverance did for misguided suburban macho.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
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.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
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.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
Penn performs one bit of sleight-of-hand on the book that's borderline unforgivable.
Dana Stevens - Slate
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.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
While the material seems to warrant understated, direct storytelling...Penn opts for epic proportions and clutters his narrative with gimmicks.
Sura Wood - Hollywood Reporter
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.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
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.
Richard Schickel - TIME Magazine
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.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
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.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
Dean Essner - Sight and Sound
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out
Every once in awhile, a movie will come outta nowhere and blow your socks off.
JimmyO - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
It's a bit heavy-handed, but ultimately a rewarding watch.
Jeff Otto - ReelzChannel.com
Even in its harrowing final moments, it reaches a spiritually transcendent pinnacle - the idea of ending one long, strange trip and plummeting into an even-greater unknown with both fear and elation. A stirring American drama of comfort and conflict.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
Even Penn's more indulgent flourishes seem to enhance the film's keen feeling.
Tim Robey - Sight and Sound
Penn's film displays a deep and abiding love for America, set against a critique of the uglier aspects that exist alongside all that the beauty.
Ian Buckwalter - DCist
The kind of insipid hero-worship that traps the subject in wax
Fernando F. Croce - CinePassion
Thank goodness for Eric Gautier’s miracle of cinematography that floods the screen with spectacular moments of pristine beauty and long shots ...
S. James Wegg - JWR
A long trip, but worth the wait. Paul Chambers, CNN.
Paul Chambers - CNNRadio
Although it's been hailed by many, I found Sean Penn's film to be the tale of a megalomaniac as told by a narcissist.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
I would never do what Christopher McCandless did, and yet I found Into the Wild to be incredibly inspiring.
Devin Faraci - CHUD
Into The Wild has been made into a prayer of a motion picture by Sean Penn. It may not touch everybody, but those whom it does touch, it will touch deeply. It is a haunting odyssey.
Tony Macklin - Fayetteville Free Weekly
Penn has managed an impressive achievement that qualifies as a great American film. [Blu-ray]
Peter Canavese - ON Magazine
...it's not the character of McCandless...but the supporting cast and characters who bring the story to life.
John J. Puccio - DVDTown.com
John J. Puccio - Movie Metropolis
About the only good thing this movie can offer is some nice scenery, which I don't need to watch a movie over two-hours long to see.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
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.
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
Often too concerned with how smart he's being, Sean Penn gets the quiet moments right while some of the more dialogue-intensive come off poorly.
Wesley Lovell - Oscar Guy
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
an intensely intimate and personal experience
Dan Jardine - Apollo Guide
Hirsch may be the talk of Into the Wild, but Penn should be commended for putting together such a strong cast.
Adam Tobias - Watertown Daily Times
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.
Ross Anthony - Hollywood Report Card
A tale of life needlessly lost by a young man who realizes too late that reckless self-reliance is not necessarily the path to self-awareness. That he fails to realize this sooner is tragic; that the film celebrates the misunderstanding is bewildering.
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
Sean Penn deserves huge credit for the gentle hand he has used in telling this incredible story.
Brian Webster - Apollo Guide
Into the Wild is a film to meditate on. It's long, it's not particularly fast-moving but it struck me in a carnal fashion.
Ryan Cracknell - Movie Views
This is a brilliant, personal film.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
Thoroughly entertaining Hollywood fare which holds up a dope as a person deserving of admiration.
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
Christopher learns too late that one must love and fear nature in equal measure and that happiness is meaningless without someone with whom to share it.
Brandon Fibbs - Colorado Springs Gazette
Encaixa-se perfeitamente na filmografia de Sean Penn, que, como diretor, parece se especializar em historias tristes e desesperancosas que buscam investigar a natureza humana atraves do que ela tem de mais angustiante.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
Penn's main idea about going native is making eye contact with a deer.
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
Chris' relationship with the machine of expectations and responsibilities is tried by Keener and Holbrook in particular, but he sticks to his guns and leaves a wake of bittersweet gaps behind him."
Karina Montgomery - Cinerina
Dean Essner - Sydney Morning Herald
The film is about people trying to live good lives and that is ultimately a serious and worthwhile subject. Into The Wild is one of the best films of the year.
Paul Byrnes - Sydney Morning Herald
[Sean] Penn's film does justice to McCandless' tale.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
It is an excellent, first-rate account of a story that, depending on your perspective, did or didn't end so well for Christopher Johnson McCandless (a terrific Emile Hirsch).
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
The engrossing true-life drama of an idealistic young man who yearns to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness and to reap the soulful benefits of solitude in the spirit of Thoreau.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Penn's camera loves the landscape and captures its immensity.
Amber Wilkinson - Eye for Film
While it does lag in some areas, it's truly an entertaining, utterly fascinating, and fantastic epic...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Powerful study of a young man who killed himself in search of spiritual purity.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
The role of the rebellious adventurer intent on doing things his own way is the kind of role Sean Penn might have taken on himself twenty five years ago, but Penn makes his mark this time as screenwriter and director
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
While the viewer may sympathise with McCandless's saintly rejection of materialism and his pursuit of eternal truths in a mapped-out world, there's little irony in the film, and the deluded Chris never actually helps anyone else.
Jason Solomons - Observer [UK]
No wonder the book on which this is based is a best-seller. "Into the Wild" takes a riveting docu-drama approach to the life of real-life Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch, "Alpha Dog") and his doomed trek away from all the comforts and safety of society.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Does capture the true spirit of the adventure.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
A young man with plenty of advantages renounces the modern world, wounds his family deeply and is acclaimed a sort of saint.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
A dream movie.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Thoughtful without being particularly thought-provoking, heartfelt but not always emotionally engaging, it gets my thumbs up due to some beautiful, haunting shots of America at its wildest.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
Although McCandless's story is undoubtedly fascinating, and Penn's film contains moments of magic, it is a lesser piece of work because it prefers to accept its subject at face value rather than ask a few crucial questions.
Wendy Ide - Times [UK]
In his fourth and best film to date, Sean Penn has made an eco-road movie that refreshes and invigorates. Exquisitely shot, robustly acted and deeply felt, it's a potent ode to wanderlust and human pluck.
Tom Charity - Total Film
Sean Penn's majestic travelogue about a young drop-out on an idealistic quest in the great American outback is the best film the writer-director has ever made.
Sukhdev Sandhu - Daily Telegraph
Penn's best movie to date rests on a brilliant performance by Hirsch, who gets under the skin of the fascinating character at the centre of the piece.
Jamie McLeish - Film4
One of the best American films of the year, even if you do feel more impatient with McCandless than Penn seems to.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Into The Wild gets lost in a self-indulgent wilderness.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
With consistently drop-dead gorgeous cinematography, Into the Wild tells a touching and ultimately harrowing tale of personal growth.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
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.
David Jenkins - Time Out
Beautifully shot and perfectly acted, Into The Wild will appeal to anyone who has looked out of the office window and wondered what it'd be like to pack a bag and just start walking.
Rich Phippen - Sky Movies
With the whole of America as his backdrop, Penn pulls off his most ambitious movie yet. The result is a beautiful and thought-provoking road movie.
Dan Jolin - Empire Magazine
Deserts, mountains, railroads, bears and a sad and lonely epiphany about the nature of human existence!
Kevin Maher - Little White Lies
Emile Hirsch captures all of the arrogance, integrity, naivete and charm of this complex, troubled young man.
Stella Papamichael - BBC
Sean Penn obviously poured all his passion into this, with nearly as much raw, naked zeal as his psychologically scarred yet inspired protagonist.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Sean Penn's first masterpiece as a director.
Bob Grimm - Sacramento News & Review
This is a great, great film.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
Hirsch, who carries the film on his increasingly emaciated shoulders, performs heroically, but there's an edge missing.
David Ansen - Newsweek
I was exhilarated--and devastated.
Kyle Smith - KyleSmithOnline.com
Powerful, tragic true story has heavy themes.
Sandie Angulo Chen - Common Sense Media
Impressively directed, beautifully written and superbly acted, this is a genuinely uplifting tale (despite its sobering conclusion) with spectacular photography throughout.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
The topography of the canyons, rivers, deserts, wheat fields and forests is no more fascinating than that of the faces McCandless encounters.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
My problem with the film is the image of McCandless as a hero, when in fact, he seems more victim than hero to me.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Movie's strong suits are great acting and great location photography, not its structure or its self-destructive central character.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Penn, whose deliberate and successful avoidance of sanctimony is the key to the film's success, uses Chris/Alex to discover his own essence as a director -- except he survived.
Matt Kelemen - Las Vegas CityLife
Has a profound cumulative effect by the end--a testament not only to Penn's control and understanding of the material, but the terrific lead turn by Hirsch.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
Poetic, resourceful, sparse and marginally pretentious.
Sean O'Connell - Charlotte Weekly
Penn and cinematographer Eric Gautier capture with lucid beauty the feel of the road and the vastness of the wilderness.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
The great accomplishment of Into the Wild, Sean Penn's film based on Jon Krakauer's fact-based book of the same name, is that it allows us to sympathize with Chris. We may not agree with the choices he makes, but we understand.
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
After the deeply internalized sorrow, longing, and rage examined in Penn's earlier movies, Into the Wild finds another way to explore identity and damage, and to make them immediate and more abstract.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
I walked away from Into the Wild feeling that Penn was too in love with the idea of Christopher McCandless the free-spirited hero to excavate the soul of Christopher McCandless the lost man.
Josh Rosenblatt - Austin Chronicle
You get that Penn is more interested in commenting on what's happening in the U.S. today and what an appropriate individual response might be in a country he probably believes has lost its way. The answer, however, is blowin' in the wind.
Dave White - Movies.com
I can't imagine a more faithful version than this taut, superbly told, ferociously filmed adventure.
Donald Munro - Fresno Bee
This fact-based drama pulls off a fairly tricky feat -- it's touching, thoughtful, sad, funny, sweet and ultimately redemptive -- and all at once.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Laced with amazing visual stunts, standout performances, and a perspective of our nation that's nearly incomprehensible, we wind up tramping right along with our wide-eyed hero.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
...an almost perversely uplifting celebration of a very strange and uncommonly charming young man, an Icarus who died by his own folly but in the process grazed heaven.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
When Christopher McCandless went camping, he didn't mess around.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
Into the Wild
Harry Chotiner - culturevulture.net
Into the Wild is especially memorable in the manner in which it offers no absolutes.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
A wholly and unexpectedly decent enterprise.
Rumsey Taylor - Not Coming to a Theater Near You
The self-reflection is powerfully honest, and the landscapes are genuinely spectacular.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Sean Penn (both director and screenwriter) has fashioned a visionary tale that is somber and uplifting.
Roger Tennis - Cinemaclips.com
What's bizarre is how Penn idealizes and never questions this self-destructive, totally egocentric, romanticized adventurer.
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
Contrary to the lessons we learned in Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, large bears will not always eat irritating hippie man-children. Damn shame.
Gabriel Shanks - Modern Fabulousity
Penn does a great job of capturing the feel of the book, but falls a bit short of achieving the depth of Krakauer.
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
A long (140 min.) and sad but fascinating journey into the heart of loneliness.
Jean Lowerison - San Diego Metropolitan
Director-screenwriter Sean Penn's gorgeous, compassionate film takes a generous approach to the story of McCandless, the real-life seeker who gave away his savings and belongings and walked into the Alaskan wilderness.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
There's a lot to like about this offbeat, evocative travelogue.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
It's a beautiful, big, sorrowful film that manages to celebrate America while reexamining what it has stood for and what it has become.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
overlong...but beautifully photographed...and expertly acted
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
The only Truth is that the quest to reclaim the best of what we were disillusions us. . . before it kills us.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Into the Wild didn't make me want to eke out a living in an abandoned bus, but it did make me yearn - just a little bit - for my younger, less cynical days
Pete Vonder Haar - Film Threat
Sean Penn's achingly poetic Into the Wild seduces gently, creeping up in incremental steps. Yet in the end it leaves us drained and devastated.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
It used to be a hip putdown to call a film "a religious experience." Into the Wild just about is.
Michael Sragow - Baltimore Sun
It's Penn's biggest-hearted film, a hippie epic that buoys even as it wends toward catastrophe.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
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.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Into the Wild is a celebratory ode to the road and the people you meet along the way, destination be damned.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I am overwhelmed by the intensity of theme, and underwhelmed by the sophomoric content thereof, and so I end up in the middle, sort of whelm-neutral.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
[Penn has] clearly found his home, his calling and consequently the best movie of his career in Jon Krakauer's best-selling nonfiction book Into the Wild.
John Thomason - Orlando Weekly
Surprisingly emotional and unguarded, with a central performance that could be one of the year's best.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Penn's maturation as a filmmaker is stunningly complete. Into the Wild is a riveting, spiritual revelation - one young man's journey to find himself that ends in folly unmourned.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Penn hits too many of his thematic nails square on the head, never trusting that his audience is intelligent enough to get his message without all of that bold-facing and underlining.
Brian Tallerico - UGO
Days later I was still thinking about this adventure... a sure indication of a well-crafted film.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
A visually stunning modern-day epic in which the protagonist, unfortunately, remains a blur.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
...a perfect, contemporary companion piece to Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
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.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Beautifully structured and performed.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
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.
Bruce Newman - San Jose Mercury News
Penn's melancholic epic is a slam-dunk.
Bruce Kirkland - Jam! Movies
Sean Penn's gorgeous, tragic film is both an advertisement for wanderlust and a sobering cautionary tale.
Betsy Bozdech - Hollywood.com
Where Penn shines most is in his level of commitment. To show us where McCandless really was, he shot in at least 30 locations all over the country.
Mary F. Pols - Contra Costa Times
Penn's direction is amazingly sharp and intuitive, full of masterful touches that give an epic dimension and scope to the parable.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
... As the credits roll at the close of Into the Wild, you don't feel like you've celebrated a life spent on the road less traveled; you feel like you've just witnessed a slow-motion suicide.
James Rocchi - Cinematical
If Penn weren't such an intimidating figure, studio execs probably would have turned the script back and asked for a do-over.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
Penn, in his zeal for the character, very simply misses the obvious: this is a spoiled brat who has become disillusioned with his parents.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Sean Penn steps behind the camera to craft one of the most powerful films of the year.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
It throbs with color, possibility and hope, fueled by an un-ironic adolescent yearning as plaintive (and only occasionally embarrassing) as the mega-earnest Eddie Vedder tunes that fill the soundtrack.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
Sean Penn does a great job.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Thematically and artistically ambitious and faithful to the source material, Penn's film is not only intriguing but also feels like a more personal work than his former outings.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
A near miss by director/screenwriter Penn when he mistakes a self-absorbed college student for a hero of the counter culture
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
Hal Holbrook will have been robbed if doesn't get nominated for every award available.
Gina Carbone - Seacoast Newspapers (NH/Maine)
A mystic and mesmerizing journey of adventure and self-discovery.
Pete Hammond - Maxim
Hirsch is thoroughly impressive in Penn's best directing effort yet.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
Although Into the Wild carries with it a tragic undercurrent, Penn illuminates the graceful aspects of Christopher's ultimate search for self to overall illuminating effect.
Kevin Courrier - Boxoffice Magazine
His initiative is really admirable. I wouldn't apply it towards breaking away from society, but he certainly was a go getter.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
It's a smart script that has a nice respect for books, ideas and the written word.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Penn's sensitive screenplay and Hirsch's engaging performance show us McCandless's ability to connect to the subtlest signals from the widest range of people and to the grandest scope of nature.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Into the Wild is a literal free spirit of a motion picture, but it also remains a poignant, tragic, and unforgettable tale of misplaced human desire.
Brian Orndorf - eFilmCritic.com
Hirsch is excellent as the woefully ill-informed and too arrogant for his own good McCandless, but Christopher is ultimately such an unsympathetic character that it is hard to feel anything for him. That makes it very hard to stick with the film.
Pam Grady - Reel.com
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.
Mark Holcomb - Time Out New York
What can ever be known of the real Chris McCandless is well served on-screen in 'Into the Wild.'
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Into the Wild may be the most stirring drama you ever see about failed ambitions. But even if it makes you think twice about that camping trip, it's a journey worth taking.
Alonso Duralde - MSNBC
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.
Scott Foundas - L.A. Weekly
Though Penn's sympathies lie with McCandless, the director's camera is impassive, and the film's driving intent is to doggedly document rather than celebrate.
Alex Markerson - E! Online
It's got a cast that any Hollywood producer would envy, all doing good work as the various people touched by McCandless during his journey.
Glenn Kenny - Premiere Magazine
astute and brisk though not always as concise as one would hope
Chris Cabin - Filmcritic.com
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.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
A heartrending slice of Americana both inspiring and foreboding in its view of a world that will exist long after we are all gone.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
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.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
[T]he extraordinary Emile Hirsch [is] like Leonardo DiCaprio 10 years ago, all coiled intensity and wrapped-up irony...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Into the Wild is a bittersweet odyssey of opportunities lost and paradise found.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
The ultimate destination creates the opportunity for Penn to draw up a summation for his protagonist's journey, and it's a moral that should satisfy those viewers looking for meaning and order.
Jeffrey Chen - Window to the Movies
Penn's 140 minute conveyance of the story is rambling and structurally unsteady but every essential ingredient is there, which we put together with a lingering impression of poetry and pain.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
What is evident by the film's conclusion is that our sincere and honest relationships with fellow men and women is what makes us human and great; not at all our connection to nature
Jordan Hiller - Bangitout.com
Darkly observant, the plot makes great art.
Eric Kohn - New York Press
Penn's empathy with his driven hero is unmistakable and deeply felt.
Jim Emerson - RogerEbert.com
A personal film in the best sense of the word.
Bryant Frazer - Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
For a story so fraught with potential landmines, Sean Penn, the screenwriter, bridges delicate narrative constraints to fulfill expectations of audiences familiar with Krakauer's book.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Romanticization takes precedence over analysis in Into the Wild, Sean Penn's exasperating adaptation of John Krakauer's nonfiction bestseller.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
Dean Essner - Screen International
Sean Penn's fourth feature as a director is as exhilarating as it is unwieldy, a sprawling hymn to nature, humanity and personal freedom which firmly establishes the much-feted actor as a film-maker of vision.
Mike Goodridge - Screen International
Into the Wild shows you the way, but lets you choose for yourself. And hippie or no, this trip is absolutely worth the effort.
Todd Gilchrist - IGN Movies
Even as we feel anger at Chris for hurting his family, or frustration at his choices, or fear for what will happen to him, a part of us has to admire his courage in taking a leap that most of us would never be able to take.
Kim Voynar - Cinematical
The reason it's so troubling, even disturbing, is that notwithstanding the protagonist's profound goodness, the film insists on consequences for his narcissism, his naivete, his -- yes -- stupidity.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
As most films directed by actors, the performances here are very strong.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
A story of youthful narcissism that never neglects the poignant humanity at its core, Into the Wild speaks to the yearnings and frailties in all of us.
Kevin Lally - Film Journal International
If Emile Hirsch is short on charisma, he nonetheless whets our wanderlust--though if you're thinking of trekking to Alaska, go with a commercial tour group.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve