Wild Blu-ray Review

WILD is the remarkable true story about a women’s transformation from the depths of despair to her ultimate redemption. It is inspiring and uplifting, but the movie does not work without the excellent acting from Reese Witherspoon. This is her most raw and emotional performance.

The film is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. It is about her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail and what brought her to do such a feat. Witherspoon plays Strayed with such emotion and conviction. The movie opens with one of her most desperate times on the Trail. She loses her boot and then she lashes out by throwing the other boot down the mountain. Everyone can relate to this utter helplessness and it prepares you on what you will experience.

Wild

Director Jean-Marc Vallee did “Dallas Buyers Club” the previous year and brought out the best in Matthew McConaughey. The cowboy in that film and Cheryl in this one are quite similar in many ways. They both were living destructive lifestyles and were both headed to a brutal end. They decided to pick up the pieces of their lives and get living.

Vallee does an excellent job in going back and forth in time with the story. It is not a traditional way of doing things. You get inside the head of Cheryl and what she is experiencing and feeling at that exact time. Vallee worked off the screenplay of novelist Nick Hornby. We see Cheryl as a child (actually played by the daughter of Cheryl herself) and as younger woman. Laura Dern is great as Cheryl’s mother Bobbi. Bobbi is what we call an eternal optimist. Even though she was married to an abusive husband, she looks at it as a positive since she had two kids from the union. Bobbi goes back to school to better herself when she gets bad health news. This news does shake her confidence in herself and throws the family of Cheryl and her brother Leif (Keene McRae) into flux.

Wild

Cheryl gets into bad habits like heroin and promiscuity. This ruins her first marriage to the quite understanding Paul (Thomas Sadoski). The scenes between Cheryl and Paul are sad in what could have been. Paul endures quite a bit in staying married to Cheryl for so long and her breaking the bond of marriage again and again. As Cheryl embarks on the Trail, she makes a phone call to Paul to maybe get his blessing in trying to rectify her life. It is heartbreaking and a bit painful to watch. I am sure many people watching this will relate to a relationship that has ended and you still have feelings for the person.

Vallee and Cinematographer Yves Belanger use mostly natural light in exploring the Pacific Northwest. The lighting and locations are just exquisite. How Belanger didn’t get nominated for an Oscar is beyond my comprehension. The Trail just comes alive on the screen. The use of “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” by Simon & Garfunkel was also a genius stroke. It perfectly captures the mood of the movie.

Cheryl on her journey meets all sorts of people. Some of them were threatening, but mostly they were welcoming. I can only imagine what she was feeling as she transverse this rough terrain on her own. She didn’t know if she would quit, survive it or what dangerous animals or people she would encounter. I know I couldn’t undertake such a tall task.

Wild

Through it all Witherspoon was the ultimate trooper in bringing this real character to life. She is laid bare on the screen with no makeup. She had to carry a heavy backpack. She worked in brutal heat and chilly temperatures. She had to bare her soul and her body. Witherspoon had to display a wide range of emotions from happiness to despair. In my humble opinion it is her finest performance and she richly deserved the Oscar nomination.

WILD takes us on remarkable journey of a woman finding her way in life. It can be tough to watch at times, but it is always true. You will be touched by this story.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: The scenes are breathtaking to see. The Pacific Northwest could not have looked any better.

Audio: The sound was relatively good. I did have some issues hearing the dialogue at times.

Audio Commentary By Director Jean-Marc Vallee, Producer Bruna Papandrea and Production Executive David Greenbaum: These folks go over the various scenes and what was involved in making the movie.

Deleted Scenes (7:49): Five scenes in all. You can watch with or without the director’s commentary. The director cut these scenes due to pacing, repetition or the scene frankly wasn’t needed. None of the scenes would have made the movie better.

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The Real Cheryl Strayed (8:37): Cheryl talks a little about her life. The director and some of the actors chime in as well.

The Real Location is the Best Location (8:45): Some of the real locations were used in the film. The location manager tells of her difficult task in scouting for the feature. The director, Reese and Cheryl also discuss the locations and their importance to the story.

How Much Does a Monster Weigh? (3:46): The backpack is talked about in detail. The one that was used for some of the shooting was about 70-75 pounds. Reese discusses the difficulties in filming with this heavy prop. The production designer talks of the challenge of this.

The Pacific Crest Trail Interactive Map: This is a neat feature where you can trace Cheryl’s actual steps and go to where it is shown in the movie.

Promotional Featurettes:

Bringing the Book Into the Wild (3:35): This is where you learn of the adaptation and Screenwriter Nick Hornby shares his feelings on the process.

Reese Witherspoon In the Wild (3:55): Reese talks about what she had to go through for the role. Other principals involved throw in their take on the actress.

Wild: 94 Days, 1100 Miles (3:18): Cheryl mainly talks about her journey.

Directing Wild (3:56): Actors, Producers and Cinematographer shower praise on the director. The director also discusses his methods.

Making Wild (5:21): Short feature about the production of the film. Location is discussed. The director, screenwriter, producers and actors give their opinions on the movie.

Pacific Crest Trail (4:07): Wilderness experts and people involved with the Trail are featured here.

Real Locations (3:21): The locations are talked about. There were more than 50 involved.

Experiencing the PCT: A Special Message From Cheryl Strayed (1:47): Cheryl briefly discusses the Trail and preservation of it.

Gallery: You get to observe some still images.

Sneak Peek: Previews of movies and a television show.

OVERALL 5
    MOVIE REVIEW
    BLU-RAY REVIEW
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