Film Review | The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

“The Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a family friendly movie that doesn’t restrict itself to just being for children is a New Zealand film directed by Taika Waititi.

This film stars Hollywood legend Sam Neil as Hector and up and coming star Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker.

Since its release, it has won many awards, including Best Overall film at the Bali International Film Festival, Best International Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards and many more.

The movie makes sure you understand the characters’ motives and what they care for from the start of the film, introducing Ricky as a troubled city orphan, Bella is a caring woman who just wants to raise a child and Hector is a stoic grumpy old man.

These three seem like they would never get along but Bella slowly grows on Ricky and it turns out Ricky is just a kid wanting acceptance. You can see this when Ricky and Hector first go into the woods.

Ricky decides to run away and ends up getting lost. Lost and with no food, Ricky begins to panic, luckily Hector finds him but he has to go back to Child Services. Hector has a major accident while in the woods and can’t get back home.

They have now stranded themselves in the woods with no food, no way to get home and an old man with a major injury, which Hector says will take six weeks to heal. The whole time Ricky is trying to get Hectors’ acceptance while at the same time having child services chasing them relentlessly.

The acting in this film was overall amazing. The main two actors do a great job playing their characters.

It wasn’t a surprise that Sam Neil did a great job playing grumpy old man Hector because he was already known to be a big shot Hollywood actor.

The most surprising break out performance of the film was Julian Dennison playing the mischievous main character Ricky Baker. Julian Dennison had only had minor roles in movies like “Paper planes” and “Shopping”, but in this film, he really made the point to play this character as realistically as possible. You can see this at the start of the film when Ricky first gets to his new house, we know exactly what he thinks just by the look on his face and the way he moves, only a great actor can do that convincingly.

One character I think could have been performed a little better was Psycho Sam played by Rhys Darby. I think the character was a little over done and could have been toned down a bit. It was a good performance but I think Rhys Darby was going towards the whole “crazy” angle way too much.

The atmosphere in this film is marvelous. With huge helicopter shots showing the forest areas of New Zealand, it’s hard to not be in awe. Most of the film was shot in Central Plateau and the Waitakere Ranges.

They utilize the freedom of where they are filming to really bring you into the story.

Many parts of the film are there to symbolize the stages of the film. At the start there is a scene where Ricky is climbing a dark hill with just a small torch to light his way, this is symbolizing the giant hill Ricky had to climb just to get through his life to this point.

They also utilize the boar to represent Ricky’s mind set throughout the film, when he sees Bella at the start kill a boar he is shocked and disgusted, but by the end when a boar tries to attack Hector he takes no issue with shooting the boar to protect his family.

This really shows how much Ricky has grown in the film.

Acceptance is one of the main themes of the film. Shown in all chapters of the film, acceptance represents Ricky and his relationship with Hector. At the start, Hector has a hard time accepting that Ricky is now part of his family with Bella.

This really changes part way through the film as can be seen in the scene where Paula and Ricky are on separate sides of a ravine, and Paula offers Ricky scroggin to say that Hector kidnapped him, Ricky refuses and says “You don’t trade family for anything.” This really shows that during the film Hector and Ricky’s relationship grows to be something really special to Ricky.

This film is suitable for families. It has some great themes for both children and adults. There are a few scenes that would freak out children a bit but nothing that would keep them up at night.

I think this would really help a child see what family means and how to fight for things you want. I think this film should be just PG. There should be some parental guidance just in case.

I would rate this film 4/5.

I think the acting was perfect but there were some points in the movie where I thought it was overdone and not very realistic.