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In my opinion this is the best movie of the year. (Of what I've seen up to this point.) It was emotionally engaging, gorgeously photographed, and extremely well acted; really top-notch in all filmmaking aspects. Sean Penn has stepped it up as a filmmaker, and I'm excited to see what he'll do as a director in the future. That's not the way I felt after his last two films; The Pledge and The Crossing Guard.

I think the main thing holding it back from being universally loved, is that not everyone can relate to Christopher McCandless. I've read and heard quite a few people calling him an idiot, and writing it off there. Which, I can sort of agree with on his being so unprepared to go into the Alaskan wilderness; but his journey up to that point, I completely respect.

When I was in my early twenties, I too wanted to drop out of society, travel the world and see what it brings. Really learn about who I am. And part of me still regrets not doing that before I had responsibilities that tied me down.
I wouldn't have gone so far as to throw away all my money and then ultimately go into wild Alaska with little more than a sleeping bag and a .22 rifle.

But watching his travels around the U.S., meeting all kinds of different people and picking up work where you could, really got me going. I haven't had a chance to read the Jon Krakauer novel yet, but I plan to now that I loved the movie so much. I want to know more about his adventure.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was that Penn and crew shot on location in most of the places that Christopher went. After the film is over, you feel like you've taken a journey across the country. It's all beautifully captured in a documentary style, so it's like you're right there with him on his journey of self-discovery.

Emile Hirsch is wonderful a Christopher, he's completely believable, a star-making performance. And it was great to see some veteran actors show up in the supporting roles, I especially liked Catherine Keener as the old hippie who becomes a surrogate mother for Christopher. Vince Vaughn is fun in his small role as a farmer who employs him for a short time. William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden are devastating as his normal-seeming, but abusive parents.

Eddie Vedder's score is beautiful; it's a bit invasive at times, that's my only real complaint about the film, that Penn leaned on it for some of the emotional impact; but for the most part it plays with the film perfectly. Into the Wild is an all around wonderful film.

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