Connect with us

Subscribe

Wilderness Review

Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia 2018: ‘Wilderness’ Barely Overcomes its Excessive Runtime

While mostly good, ‘Wilderness’ falls flat from its own hubris, even with a satisfying conclusion and a relationship that keeps everything feeling more grandiose than it actually is.

Focused on the youth of Japan, Wilderness is an oddly assembled film. Its main narrative centered around Shinji (Masaki Suda) and Kenji (Ik-joon Yang) is enrapturing, and culminates to a head that starts tearing into your soul. The decisions outside of it are what makes you question what the point is, besides making a political statement. While Yoshiyuki Kishi’s film feels epic and surprisingly concise, the decision to make it five hours long and split into two parts doesn’t really feel like a justifiable action, as it meanders outside the story of Shinji and Kenji and wallows in the melodrama whenever possible.

All that being said, there is no doubting the power of the relationship between Shinji, a young hothead seeking vengeance on someone after being released from prison, and Kenji, a timid young barber with a stutter who is beaten constantly by his father. The two meet and bond over their interest in boxing, and train to accomplish their own individual goals. Both actors excel in the role, and the friendship between the two characters carries much of the film. Fortunately, this comprises the bulk of the film, as well. It’s when things diverge from Shinji and Kenji’s bond that things fall apart.

Wilderness

One of the more baffling moments is early on when an entire subplot about suicide prevention that involves almost none of the characters from the main story is completely forgotten about later. The way it ends in the first part is so interesting, but the second part leaves only the smallest thread to connect the two. Any moment that wants to talk about politics or social issues affecting youth in Japan is pushed in the background for the second part, which is a smart decision, but raises the question: why even have the stuff in the first part? The character that it benefits is now more nuanced, but it doesn’t feel like a nuance worth making.

What stands out as the best element of Wilderness is its boxing. All of the action is shot well, relying heavily on close-ups, and both Shinji and Kenji’s differing styles are well represented, matching their personalities in a way that makes the boxing feel like an extension of themselves. The second part of Wilderness leans more heavily into the boxing and takes a deeper look at why the two characters took to it of all sports.

Wilderness

Split into two parts, combining to a total runtime of 5 hours, it’s hard to recommend Wilderness on that note alone. It surprisingly justifies being a long movie, telling a story that feels like it needs a lot of time to let breathe, but it feels scattershot in its execution when it strays from the main narrative. It couldn’t have been a TV series, as it benefits from its length, but it also doesn’t merit five hours when subplots are dropped like they’re nothing. Wilderness is too ambitious for its own good, and it even feels like Kishi recognized this when doing the second part. While mostly good, Wilderness falls flat from its own hubris, even with a satisfying conclusion and a relationship that keeps everything feeling more grandiose than it actually is.

The Fantasia Film Festival runs July 12 – August 2. Visit the official website for more information.

Newsletter Signup

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

In case you missed it...

Ranking The Legend of Zelda Series

Games

‘Reservoir Dogs’ is Arguably Tarantino’s Best Film

Film

Spider-Man 2 Spider-Man 2

‘Spider-Man 2’ Remains A Peerless Spider-Man Film

Film

Grindhouse Deathproof Planet Terror Grindhouse Deathproof Planet Terror

‘Planet Terror’ vs. ‘Death Proof’

Film

Ripley Alien Ripley Alien

An ‘Alien’ Retrospective: How All Female Leads Trace Back to Ripley

Film

‘Alien’ May Be the Ultimate Haunted House Movie

Film

Best Spider-Man Comics Best Spider-Man Comics

10 Best Spider-Man Comics You Should Check Out

Comics

‘Spider-Man 3’ Falls Victim to Superhero Studio Growing Pains

Film

Best Spider-Man Comics Best Spider-Man Comics

10 Best Spider-Man Comics You Should Check Out

Comics

True Romance Review True Romance Review

‘True Romance’ – One of the Best-Written Genre Films Ever Made

Film

What Remains of Edith Finch What Remains of Edith Finch

Games that Changed Our Lives: Exploring the Grieving Process in ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’

Games

FromDuskTillDawn FromDuskTillDawn

‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ – Horror and the Tarantinoverse

Film

Cruel Fate Makes for Good Gaming in ‘Final Fantasy Adventure’

Games

Fantasia 2019: The Spice is Nice in ‘Extreme Job’

Fantasia Film Festival

Kill Bill Kill Bill

‘Kill Bill’ and the Five Styles of Fighting in Tarantino’s Kung Fu Opus

Film

The Best and the Most Disappointing Changes to the ‘Lion King’ Soundtrack

Blog

Advertisement
Connect
Newsletter Signup

Share
Tweet
Reddit
Pin