Saturday, October 8, 2016


I wish I could get out and hike more often than I do. I have always been a fan of getting lost in nature and my thoughts. The last time I went hiking was about two years ago just a couple months prior to the release of today’s film that happens to deal with hiking. That film is 2014’s Wild (trailer). The film is based on the popular book from a couple years prior by one Cheryl Strayed, who spent over 90 days hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself after suffering a string of personal tragedies.

Just showing Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) hike for 1100 miles nonstop would not exactly be ideal, so the film makes great use of jump cuts throughout her hike to help detail Cheryl’s past lows such as her and her spouse, Paul (Thomas Sadoski) going through a divorce and losing her mom (Laura Dern) to cancer. The cuts are well timed, usually occurring when Reese is suffering through a somewhat relatable hiccup on the trail. Cheryl meets all kinds of interesting characters along the trail, and we really do not get a chance to get too attached to many of them since the film does a good job at keeping the pace moving. My favorite character I had to include a snapshot of here is when she gets interviewed by a inspiring journalist of an independent magazine, The Hobo Times.

There are a lot of quick, touching moments along the trail for Cheryl that I could not help but get invested in. The one that got me to crack up the most was her attempting to put her “monster” of a backpack on in Wild’s opening. Another notable moment is when Cheryl takes a couple days to rest from the trail when it crosses paths with the town of Ashland. The one big repeating source of conflict of Cheryl’s time on the trail is of her fear of getting assaulted. I remember my initial viewing of the film in the theater and thought they overdid it a bit by constantly coming back to Cheryl getting easily intimidated by nearly every person she encounters. However, I later went on to read the book and found out the film did not take any liberties because that was legitimately how Cheryl felt on the trail.

After reading the book and watching the film a second time, I was pretty satisfied with how the film portrayed the book. The film is just the right length at a little under two hours and did a pretty good job squeezing in as much from the book as possible. The film did not have time to go into detail on every one of her pre-hike personal stories, and some of them are only briefly shown in the film as quick flashes a couple times when Cheryl goes through bouts of nausea on the trail. I was fine with this as you did not want the movie overstaying its welcome. If I had to nitpick a couple of things missing from the book, there are a couple of female hiker friends Cheryl meets and teams up with for parts of the trail, but in the film they only show her conversing with one at a rest stop. A big trail moment exclusively in the book is when Cheryl encounters a bear in a very tense moment, and I would have loved to see how that played out on film because Cheryl did a wonderful job describing her life flashing before her eyes before she miraculously scared the bear off. This is conjecture on my part, but perhaps Reese said absolutely no way to doing a scene with a live bear.

There are a solid amount of extra features on the BluRay of Wild. There is a commentary track with director Jean-Marc Vallee and producers Bruna Papandrea and David Greenbaum. It is worth a listen as the crew gives a lot of fun factoids about filming in nature, and goes out of their way to mention what each major and minor actor brought to the film. There are several minutes of deleted scenes with or without director’s commentary. There is nearly a half hour of several mini-features labeled under the “Promotional Features” category. They all have brief interviews with the cast and crew and while a little informative, they serve as mostly extended trailers with a lot of spots from the movie. I would instead watch the four other extras that also total a half hour, but feature less movie footage and more interviews from the cast, crew and Cheryl herself. Real Cheryl Strayed shows Cheryl revisiting a lot of spots from the trail that were used in the film and is well worth checking out. Real Location is the Best Location is another must-see extra that goes more into detail on filming on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I have to admit I am a little biased when it comes to Wild. As a minor fan of hiking this film hits all the right notes on what I like about hiking, and does a stellar job at staying true to the source material. Additionally, one of my favorite musicians has a small role in the film (I will not spoil who), and I had a chance to briefly talk to him about it at a meet and greet after a concert, and that only helped me like this film even more. So yeah, I may be biased so please pardon me when I say if you are looking for a feel good journey of self-discovery flick, then you absolutely have to watch Wild.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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