Seemingly strange choice but upcoming Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi brings us his latest with Hunt For The Wilderpeople just two years after he directed What We Do In The Shadows. So what do we get for our money, any clues, is it any good?
Hunt For The Wilderpeople stars Julian Dennison (Paper Planes, Shopping) as Ricky. A kid who’s a little lost in the foster care system in New Zealand who ends up on a farm near the bush which is a last resort. The farm is owned by Bella, played by Rima Te Wiata (Housebound, Full Frontal) and Hec, played by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park etc). Hec is a quiet, grumpy man who wants to be left alone whilst Bella is the caring, loving one who wants to share that love and help children as they’re unable to have them.
The story is from the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump and, in essence, is the story of two loners, Ricky and Hec. The film kicks into gear when the pair of them end up in the bush to escape the police, and a crazed head of foster care played by Rachel House (Whale Rider, Boy). We’re taking on a magestical adventure as they survive the bush and escape the chase. What we get is two loners getting to know each other and learning to be, well, not so alone.
It would be remiss of me not to start with the overall look and feel of the movie. It has shades of Wes Anderson, more The Grand Budapest Hotel then his early work. There’s also elements of Turbo Kid, though this could have been the music, and Ping Pong Summer, though this could have been the eighties vibe Waititi channels throughout.
The cinematography, from Lachlan Milne in pretty much his first major feature, is stunning. New Zealand looks beautiful and with Waititi’s direction the film looks and feels fantastic. Waititi, who also wrote the screenplay, adds some wonderful comedy throughout the film. It’s very funny whilst still managing to be touching and heartfelt in all the right places.
Both Dennison and Neill work well together and their performances are great. Neill stepping back into his curmudgeonly role which lets Dennison shine through with the crazed House chasing them both she adds a whole world of weird. As does an old friend of Waititi’s from What We Do In The Shadows who crops us as Psycho Sam. I won’t say more, watch it and enjoy.
The film is great. A wonderful, feel-good, heart-warming and touching journey that will also make you laugh and laugh. If Waititi can bring even half of this wonderfulness he’s put together for the next Thor film, I get the feeling we could be in for a treat.