I had been holding off writing a review of this movie to give people enough time to see the limited release film before I colored anyone's view of the thing.
I usually like movies where the central character rejects society and ends up paying for it in some way with his life. But usually these people are artists, writers, musicians. I expected to like the movie despite the flaws in Krakauer's book. I was looking forward to seeing McCandless's story brought to life, McCandless given real and convincing characterization, but like the New Yorker explains, "Penn shoots the movie, however, in a facile, commercially lyrical style—he can’t stop swirling around mountaintops, as if he were selling S.U.V.s."
And these sorts of movies tend to be pretty melodramatic (think The Doors) and maybe incidentally campy. When I was younger and self destructive myself, I probably would have liked Into The Wild never the less. Director Sean Penn fails to see what was tragic in this story, emphasizing instead the beautiful and scenic. It is the innocence and naivete that makes McCandless's story compelling. But as the New Yorker said, "McCandless didn’t experience enough of life for his rejection of it to carry much weight, and Penn can’t see the egocentricity in a revolt that was as naïve as it was grandly self-destructive."
Into The Wild is worth seeing, and it makes you want to get out of doors, but as Krakauer's book failed, Penn's moving leaves us feeling a little silly for even caring.