Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Everything that happens after they save the diabetic ranger is a little aimless and filling time until the end, but it's mostly as charming and funny as it's trying to be. A slight shame that the payoff de-fangs the social critique. I'm not complaining about the happiness of the ending per se, I just wanted a bit more insight into how Ricky managed to overcome such overwhelming societal indifference/misguided zeal/prejudice.

Seems ungrateful to nitpick when a film is this sure of itself, but here comes another one: despite all the '80s-inspired movies and TV shows out this year, I had a particular problem with Taika Waititi's borrowings. Derivative techniques like the training montage undermined the emotional complexity of the situation and underserved the characters, while visual references detracted from the film's unique sense of place. Other filmmakers have been reminding us of the '80s in order to complicate and deconstruct that decade's ideas and tropes. Julian Dennison and Sam Neill are too charismatic to be reduced to such familiar roles, and too subtly at odds with each other to receive such a neat resolution to their relationship.

Waititi is at his best when he's at his most idiosyncratic and oddball (whether naturalistic or formally daring) and he evokes both urban and rural New Zealand so well (in the eyes of this foreign observer at least), which makes me a little concerned for how the Marvel system is going to treat him. Although based on this and his previous effort, I can see how he might positively influence them in turn.

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