Film Review: A Walk in The Woods (Ken Kwapis, 2015) ★★½.

American travel writer, Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) decides to reconnect with his homeland by embarking on his first hike in nearly thirty years. Joined by an old friend, the pair set course for the famous Appalachian Trail. 

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Based on the bestselling 1998 memoir of the same title, A Walk in the Woods follows Bill, an ageing writer who aches for adventure. Looking back on his career as a successful travel writer, he decides to contact any old friend willing to join him on the back-breaking hike that is a 2160-mile trek from Georgia to Maine. However, only one is keen to join him - his estranged friend, Stephen Katz, whom he didn't get on with at the best of times. Despite his wife's (Emma Thompson) disapproval, their rocky past and Katz' obvious health problems, the two 70-plus men set off to conquer the trail.

With two legendary lead actors at the center, you'd expect big things from A Walk in the Woods yet at almost every hurdle it seems to fall short. The film features several cameos and bit parts from the likes of Emma Thompson as Bill's wife, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal and Mary Steenburgen. All, however, are under written and their characters with little value to the plot development. Redford's role, originally written for Paul Newman, is a solid performance, as is Nolte's yet it feels as though they had little to work with. Furthermore, though always excellent, Emma Thompson seems an odd choice as Bill's wife as she is clearly much younger.

 In terms of actual narrative, truth be told - nothing dramatic happens at all and what we imagine will be a tale of hardship and tribulations, plays out more like a dad-joke filled, drastically more tame version of Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007) but without a real conclusion. The duo come across many-a-scrape yet always brushed over and laughed off, emerging completely unscathed.  

There are some visually stunning scenes. The trial makes for some excellent cinematography almost as if created by the Georgia tourist board themselves (close - but it is funded by them). However, some are also filmed in a studio with awful use of green screen. This, unfortunately, brings down the tone of the film immensely from which it cannot return. 

Ultimately, A Walk in the Woods is enjoyable yet nothing to write home about. Though an impressive cast and with all the correct foundations, it just doesn't quite live up to expectations. A Walk in the Woods gets a Sophie star rating of 2.5 stars - a lightly charming film to watch with the parents and the over 60's.

Although the film wasn't quite as I'd hoped, I'm determined not to miss anything that could appear on the Oscar radar as we enter awards season. Furthermore, this was a rather lovely and rare evening out with the parents. My dad is a keen hiker and the perfect target audience for this film and it's always nice to find an excuse to go to the cinema. Have you seen A Walk in the Woods? What have you been watching lately? As always, I love reading your thoughts so please do leave me your comments below.

Lots of love film fans,


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