Hunt for the Wilderpeople
review by Bobby Blakey
Sam Neil is one of those actors that brings that something special to every role he is in without ever not being Sam Neil. It is something that is hard to explain but he always shines like only he can. His latest film Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a New Zealand led adventure film that teams Neil up with young actor Julian Dennison under the guidance of What We Do In the Shadows director Taika Waititi, but does it have that something special to help it stand out or will it get lost in the woods once and for all?
Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows defiant city kid Ricky who gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. From the look of the poster and the title of the film you might think you are walking into a family type kid’s film and while this is far from an adult film it has so much more to it than expected. This is a full on fun adventure buddy film with tons of emotion and heart. Initially the film is a bit awkward by design as you get to know Ricky and his struggle to find a place with this new family. As his story progresses and tragedy propels things in a new direction it puts him side by side with Hec played by Neil. From the moment they hit the woods on their adventure this film gets better and better. Everything about the film works perfect, but seeing them together is pure magic. They have a love hate relationship, mostly hate, throughout the film that is hilarious yet still full of a lot of emotional struggle.
Sam Neil is as great as ever bringing a grumpy and hateful mentality to a character that is really lost in a way that is near impossible to understand without this journey. Julian Dennison is pure magic on screen bringing a young fresh presence with great comedic timing and overall talent. The two of them together is perfection thanks to their great chemistry together. Some of the best moments are the moments of them arguing or just having simple dialogue. Throughout their journey there is plenty of action that is top notch and well executed while never losing the magic of the story they are telling. There are so many great moments in this film that are too many to name, but took a simple story and made it the perfect film that deserves to be seen by everyone.
There are so many smaller films that are hidden gems that are sadly often missed. This is one of those films that people need to get out and support. Everyone cries and complains about wanting something new and different, well here it is. I am going to go on record as this might be one of my favorite films so far this year so get out there and give it the support it deserves.