Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. Penn's direction is amazingly sharp and intuitive, full of masterful touches that give an epic dimension and scope to the parable.
  2. 100
    A genuine odyssey: a journey to self-knowledge.
  3. The beauty of Into the Wild, which Penn has written and directed with magnificent precision and imaginative grace, is that what Christopher is running from is never as important as what he's running TO.
  4. 91
    There's a bittersweet quality to McCandless' story that Penn captures intuitively.
  5. 90
    If nothing else, Into the Wild is a beautiful film. Penn meticulously shot in the actual locations McCandless visited, and Eric Gautier's cinematography is breathtaking, many scenes are framed in such a way as to almost Hirsch entirely, further emphasizing how solitary his trek actually was.
  6. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    To these eyes, Into the Wild is an unusually soulful and poetic movie that crystallizes McCandless in all his glittering enigma, and allows us to decide for ourselves whether he was the spiritual son of Thoreau, Tolstoy, and John Muir, or the boy most likely to become Theodore Kaczynski.
  7. 90
    Sean Penn sings a powerful and poetic hymn to America with Into the Wild, his sweeping, sensitive and deeply affecting adaptation of Jon Krakauer's best-selling book.
  8. 88
    Penn, in tandem with the superb cinematographer Eric Gautier (The Motorcycle Diaries), captures the majesty and terror of the wilderness in ways that make you catch your breath.
  9. They are the only misstep in Penn's otherwise sure-footed journey to what he reveals as the heart of lightness.
  10. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Flawed but refreshingly intelligent.
  11. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Captivating and multifaceted.
  12. 88
    Into the Wild is a beautifully made motion picture and some of the segments (especially those with Hal Holbrook and those that transpire around "the magic bus" in Alaska) are powerful.
  13. Penn, one of Hollywood's most famous iconoclasts, must have felt instinctive sympathy with someone who told the whole world in general to leave him alone.
  14. 83
    Feels like a lost film from the '60s in the very best way: unstructured and intrepid and free. As a result, it's sometimes a little indulgent and overlong. But, like its hero, it's never less than sincere in its search for truth and beauty, even as it stares death in the eye.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 304 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 99 out of 128
  2. Negative: 21 out of 128
  1. Nov 18, 2010
    The film repects the true story as expressed in Jon Krakauer's book. I can't overstate how good Emile Hirsch is as the lead. Every supporting actor plays their part to near perfection. Sean Penn is as good a director as he is an actor. The music goes really well with the film. Full Review »
  2. Jul 3, 2011
    This is one of those rare films which leaves a profound impact on you. The beauty of the landscape, the compelling acting from all, the terrific music and Penns great work in the director/writers chair make the film as engaging as can be. It really makes you want to enjoy the simple things in life and get out there.
    spellbinding stuff indeed Mr. Ebert.
    Full Review »
  3. BuzzK.
    Apr 7, 2008
    A privileged middle-class white kid with a college degree decides his life sucks, so he does the only logical thing: burns his money, turns his back on his family, and heads to Alaska for self-enlightenment. Meanwhile, the rest of the world struggles with real problems like hunger which isn't self-inflicted. A tedious, self-absorbed, adolescent fable. Full Review »