Monday, 19 September 2016

'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' Review


The indpendent movie scene seems to be taking a number on the blockbusters this year with many indie movies out shining the much bigger budget movies. Next to dazzle is 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' from New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi. Known for the hilarious 'What We Do In The Shadows' and 'Boy', Waitit was hoping to create another comedic success. With help from Sam Neill, they were able to create this years best comedy.


Young Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a troubled child who arrives at a new home after bad luck in care homes. Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) looks to bond and take care of him in the New Zealand countryside where she lives with her husband Hec (Sam Neill). Tragedy strikes though a Bella passes away leaving the unlikely pair of Ricky and Hec together. Child services want to take Ricky back so he runs into the wilderness with Hec pursuing him. The pair are now being hunted down as they think Hec has kidnapped young Ricky. The pair are now on the run to avoid real life and juvenile prison.

I did not see a single piece of advertising for this movie whatsoever, not even in the cinema that I regularly go to. No posters, no trailers, nothing. I knew of this film solely down to the YouTube reviewers community who praised the film very highly and I noted it down to keep an eye on for future release. Due to this, 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' seems to have gone under the radar from the public eye, despite being one of the best movies of the year.

Taika Waititi is one of the best comedy directors right now and he really shows it in this movie. The New Zealander clearly has a knack after previous succesful endeavours like 'What We Do In The Shadows', and his latest film is a quality addition to his filmography. He really works well with comedy which is shown clearly as he is both writer and director for this movie. He keeps a quirkiness throughout the film with the bouncy soundtrack accompanying this. This supports the film feeling quite upbeat as Waititi's humour really shines, creating just a fantastic and enjoyable viewing. Waititi is one of the best when it comes to creating a genuinely funny comedy movie, something that is actually quite rare these days.

The film follows the troubled Ricky Baker and Hec, two people who couldn't be more different. A huge age gap, different interests and general demeaners are only a few things that this couple of oddballs are unlike each other and it leads to an incredibly fun journey. Sam Neill plays the grumpy outdoorsman Hec and he is absolutely magnificent. One of Hollywood's most underrated actors and this role surprised me as I never thought of him as a comedy actor. However his no-nonsense style and grumpiness is fantastic to watch as he contrasts very well with young actor Julian Dennison. Dennison's Ricky Baker wants to be a gangster so uses foul language whilst acting tough and bigger than he actually is. The pair bounce off of each other incredibly well with Baker often annoying Hec much to Hec's displeasure. The relationship is the main factor of the film as despite their differences, they share a common goal as they don't want to be captured. One of the best on screen pairings this year as the partnership really delivered.

Not only do the two leads deliver very well comically, the supporting characters pitch in their fair share and do very well. From Paula (Rachel House), the woman from child services to the crazy 'Psycho Sam' (Rhys Darby), everyone adds to the film very well. The latter is one of the funniest characters I have seen in a long time as everything Sam did was really funny as everything he did seemed to click for me. The strength of the supporting characters really helps as the lend a helping hand to our leads - not that they needed it. Despite that, the more great, enjoyable characters there are only adds to the movie. They don't over do it as well as the main focus stays on the oddball pairing making their roles as supporting characters very successful throughout the film.

Now the humour is a main part of the film but at the same time, it really impacts your emotions. There are two examples of this that are heartbreaking as the film drops in some sad moments that are really impactful. I never expected these moments to work as well as they did, especially the second time around after the influx of comedy filled most of the film. The performance from Sam Neill also makes this very effective as he shows great range, especially in these moments. They tug at your heartstrings and are very effective adding another great layer to the film which also helps bring depth to the characters.

Unfortunately, there is a problem what stops 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' from shining even brighter. The ending for this is quite disappointing as the journey of Hec and Ricky ends quite flatly and in a way that isn't great in the slightest. It seems rather abrupt and is a real shame to see the film fade out like that. The end really doesn't match the quality of the rest of the film which is quite easily noticeable.

Overall, 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' is one of the best films this year and in my opinion, the best comedy. Sam Neill and Julian Dennison are fantastic together in what is a great comedy pairing. The journey is incredibly fun and you will be laughing throughout in what is another success from Taika Waititi. Please go see this film, it really deserves more attention than it is getting and is the kind of film we should be supporting.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople'? If so what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing this movie and I cannot stress enough that you should go see this one! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor