Connect with us


Fantasia 2018: ‘Wilderness’ Barely Overcomes its Excessive Runtime

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.


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.


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.

Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Anti-War Anti-War

Three Bestselling Anti-War Novels, Three A-List Film Adaptations…Three Flops:  Castle Keep, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five


Vesper poster Vesper poster

Vesper: Sci-Fi That Thinks Big With Limited Means


Unforgiven movie review Unforgiven movie review

Unforgiven Ushered the Western into its Afterlife 


Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies

A Full List Of Upcoming Marvel Studios Film And TV Releases


Robocop 1987 Robocop 1987

RoboCop is a Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age


Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues


Nope Nope

Jordan Peele’s Nope Explained: A Spectacle of “Bad Miracles”


Alex's War (2022) Alex's War (2022)

Alex’s War, a Documentary Study of Alex Jones, Misses the Big Picture 


Signs movie review Signs movie review

M. Night Shyamalan Signs Finds Comfort at the End of the World


All Out 2022 Predictions All Out 2022 Predictions

Way Too Early Predictions for All Out 2022


Biography: WWE Legends’ Look at Goldberg is One of the Best Wrestling Documentaries Ever 


Detective vs Sleuths Detective vs Sleuths

Detective vs. Sleuths: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride


Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is an Anti-Fascist Classic 


Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022: A Full Recap


High Noon at 70: When Time is of the Essence


Bullet Train movie review Bullet Train movie review

Bullet Train Makes All the Wrong Stops