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Top 20: 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople'

It was like 'The Lord of the Rings.'

By Conor HuftonPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
The best Jurassic Park film that has nothing to do with any Jurassic Park film. 

A troubled teenager and an elderly misanthrope are forced to hide in the wilderness. That title was too long so, eventually, they decided on Hunt for the Wilderpeople. A creative and natural exploration of an adventure film that segues effortlessly between sentimentality, drama, and comedy. Sam Neill stars and once again wears a hat. Had the film been advertised like this it would have been more popular, "Don’t miss Hunt for the Wilderpeople—starring Sam Neill in a hat" or, "The Oscar goes to Sam Neill in a hat."

The dynamic between Sam Neill (who does not play the troubled teen- that’d be a different film) and Julian Dennison, who shows great potential (who does not play Sam Neall) is engaging. Both are plausibly nuanced and defrost at a logical pace with carefully thought out reasons for why. They also show hidden depths that don’t undermine their immediate characterisations. That makes me sound smart, right? No? Damn.

Hard to know which the trouble teen is—13 year olds can grow beards like that now by 5 o clock the next day.

While Neill and Dennison show an equal parts unique and welcomingly familiar dynamic, there are other skilled cast members. All performances are either believable or endlessly entertaining. The film allows emotional investment almost immediately, and never lazily resorts to melodrama. Even characters who barely appear deliver fully committed performances and are written three-dimensionally. Rachel House perfectly delivers the role of a delusional and gradually antagonistic social worker forcefully and incompetently acting like an extremist cop in a thriller. Rima Ti Wiata (That’s right—I know how Google works) is fully engrossing and convincing in her role as a nurturing and surprisingly capable mother figure. Taika Waititi himself appears and shows an unsurprising flair for comic timing and unforced but nevertheless heightened speech and mannerisms.

The flow of the film is positively relentless, showing the exact amount that’s needed to understand the world without story interruption. There are quiet scenes, inventively filmed action sequences, moments of tension, humorous bonding, and brief but textured interactions with others. The film essentially offers all the major strengths that would be found in a road movie. Apart from the road, but that’s not crucial. The climax of the film is forceless in its delivery of excitement, humour, unpredictability, and tension.

There are other practical positives, the shots are deceptively simple with a semi-muted colour pallet adding welcome realism. There are unpredictable but perfectly suited music choices, and well synchronised non-invasive cutaway gags that flourish an already layered film.

One possible criticism is that in one scene near the end the film’s progression noticeably slows and temporarily feels bloated. Hunt for the FILLER people, am I right? I am not. While Rhys Darby displays a serviceable performance in this scene the characters eccentricities are a lot more forced and less skillfully displayed than those of other characters. This is only a minor criticism that barely causes the story to suffer at all_and is only truly noticeable in comparison to the flow of earlier scenes.

In conclusion, this is a creative and natural exploration of the adventure film genre and segues effortlessly between sentimentality, drama, and comedy. Anyone who appreciates this film was clearly chosen by the Skux life.


About the Creator

Conor Hufton

getting better at this writing thing (aka slowly learning the alphabet, learnt how to use pen). Spanning critical writing, fantasy, parody and sci-fi (ruining all of them in the process).

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