Film review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (5 out of 5)

When we look back at the movies for 2016, the massive blockbusters will probably be foremost in our minds, thanks to all the massive publicity and excitement with their release.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Hunt for the Wilderpeople

However, my favourite so far this year is this superbly crafted film that probably cost a fraction of the superhero monoliths, has a largely unknown (outside New Zealand) cast and is just short of one hour and 45 minutes long.

Director, actor and screenplay writer Taika Waititi is a man you’ll hear more of in the future.

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He’s currently pulling together Thor: Ragnarok as director for next year and it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with all the nonsense that accompanies a movie of that magnitude.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople sees rebellious 13-year-old Ricky (Julian Dennison) fostered out to a couple in the wilds of New Zealand.

After a family tragedy and a number of misunderstandings, Ricky and his foster dad Hec (international star Sam Neill whose family moved to New Zealand when he was young) end up at the wrong end of a manhunt, pursued by police and social services.

It’s a simple plot but young Dennison is quite superb, delivering some really funny throwaway one-liners like a seasoned pro.

And this is one of the best films I’ve seen Neill in recently. He doesn’t have to say much, his looks of exasperation say it all.

Waititi makes an appearance in front of the camera as a church minister in one of the funniest scenes.

And the rest of the cast are in total sync with the feel of the movie.

It’s very funny, but has tinges of sadness that are gently brought in.

Plus we get to see the stunning New Zealand scenery which is filmed by someone who clearly loves this country.

Overall, it’s an absolute gem of a movie and if it doesn’t get a mention when the awards are handed out there is no justice.

Film details: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (12A) 101mins

Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol