Before jetting in to Sydney to begin filming Thor: Ragnarok with Cate Blanchett and Chris Hemsworth at Fox Studios, Kiwi director Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows) is soaking up the acclaim in Park City, where his latest film has premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based on Barry Crump's Wild Pork and Watercress, about a boy (Paper Planes' Julian Dennison) on the run in the New Zealand wilderness with an irascible guardian (Sam Neill).
"Taika Waititi’s latest is a pleasing comedy-adventure that pays cheeky homage to key early works from that nation’s first filmic renaissance — right down to casting the still-game Sam Neill, who was also a fugitive 40 years ago in Roger Donaldson’s Sleeping Dogs", said Variety's review, adding "the pic is sure to be another home-turf hit."
THR's Boyd van Hoeij was just as positive, and even commended Marvel bigwigs for their recruitment of Waititi to the Avengers universe.
"Based on the evidence here, that hire was a brilliant move on Marvel’s part, as Waititi is fully in command of Wilderpeople, his biggest and most ambitious film to date".
"A chapter called 'War' was no-doubt something Marvel looked at before handing Waititi the reins of their Thor franchise, and he handles the large-scale action sequences here with aplomb, always respecting spatial coherence while making sure the proceedings also contain a certain wow-factor".
Pointing out that Waititi’s 2010 feature Boy remains the highest-grossing local film of all time in NZ, THR's critic speculated that Waititi's latest "should again do solid business at home while also exciting distributors further afield."
Madman has the rights to the film in Australia and NZ.