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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
July 29, 2016, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Taika Waititi
3.5 Stars
Hunt for the WilderpeopleIn Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sam Neill plays an illiterate country man who may be a sincerely loving husband, but really wants nothing more than to be left alone. Because we’ve seen movies like these before, we know that the young teen foster boy (Julian Dennison) that shows up at his door will wear down his defenses and allow him to open up. As in Jurassic Park, however, Neill shows an unusually great talent in working with child actors. For one, he commands a certain authority in his sheer physicality—he’s the paternal ideal, sturdy and willing to give respect to those who earn it. But Neill’s great vulnerability is key, whether he’s being faced with dinosaurs or the vast New Zealand bush. His face plays uncertainty particularly well, which gives the child actors an “in” to make themselves useful and help out. He’s the best part of the film—in the brief passage that he’s not on screen, the momentum is all but destroyed. Writer/director Taika Waititi crafts the material as the safest of crowd pleasers (there is very little sense of danger or consequence), but his gift with finding humor from his character’s traits (as opposed to giving them humorous traits) makes everything play as refreshingly human.

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