Director/writer Sean Penn's adaptation of the powerful book, "INTO THE WILD" has been released on dvd from PARAMOUNT as both a single disc and 2-disc Collector's edition. Arguably, Sean Penn's finest work as a director, Emile Hirsch totally immerses himself into the role of real-life Christopher McCandless, a bright, decent young college graduate, seeking to find his true self, while venturing "into the wild," and pitting himself against nature, while shedding himself of all materialistic. This tragic, true story, is indeed harrowing, but it also achieves what Penn appears to have found most important about the source material, inspiration. There are beautiful, simple moments throughout the film, and Penn has cast the film with great care. Everyone in this film is perfect. It actually feels shameful that Hal Holbrook didn't receive the Oscar for best supporting actor. As good as Javier Bardem was(and he was "great), Holbrook exemplifies what should arguably be "the" performance worthy of highest honor. Only appearing on screen for less than 20 minutes, he almost steals the film, an arduous task to do, when so much of it is spectacular. It's also shameful that Hirsch didn't receive the final nod. He is incredible, and it's hard to believe any other actor, including Johnny Depp, assumed any role with such power. It would be easy to go on about shaming the film industry, by pointing to what Penn achieved as a director, but one should just see the film and the argument speaks for itself.
There have been some important aspects overlooked from the book, Christopher appears as much less of an ass than he really came across as being in the Krakauer story. But, ultimately, "INTO THE WILD" is a faithful adaptation.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Penn's wonderful compositions demand widescreen and the richness of the landscapes surrounding Christopher is as breathtaking as the perils he faces. Detail is excellent, save for some darker moments, which, appearing naturally lit, suffer from diminished detail and grain. For the great majority of the film, detail is excellent and contrast, perfect.
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The mix, like the imagery feels totally natural and immerses the viewer within the environment. Ambient effects, dialogue, and that incredible score, all blend flawlessly together, with perfect fidelity throughout. It's a great mix, without ever resorting to over-the-top effects.
PARAMOUNT has included two great featurettes, but unfortunately, no commentary with Penn or Hirsch.