MOVIE REVIEW: “Captain Fantastic” stars Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Road), George McKay (Pride, Defiance), Samantha Isler (Sean Saves the World [TV series], Supernatural [TV series]), Annalise Basso (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil), Nicholas Hamilton (It , Strangerland), Shree Crooks (American Horror Story [TV series], Ray Donovan [TV series]), Charlie Shotwell (Man Down, The Glass Castle), Kathryn Hahn (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, We’re the Millers), Steve Zahn (Sahara, Dallas Buyers Club), Frank Langella (Robot & Frank, Frost/Nixon), and Ann Dowd (Compliance, Side Effects). It was written and directed by Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms, Human Resources [Short]). Ben (Mortensen) has kept his children safe from the outside sin and spoils that the modern world presents. His kids are raised to be hunters, scholars, and free thinkers, far exceeding the intellect of what children are raised to be in this age. However, when his wife commits suicide after suffering a terrible illness, Ben will have to take his kids into the real world, offering greater challenges than they would ever had to deal with.
“Captain Fantastic” is a movie that has been on my mind for a while now, mainly because of its Indie feel and interesting concept. The trailers suggested a witty treat filled with some lessons to be learned and hearts to be broken. After viewing this, I commend the trailer maker for the great work he put in to make that preview, for I was disappointed in the actual feature. Right out the gate, I want to say that I didn’t find this film terrible, nor unwatchable; I merely found it okay, whereas I wanted it to be great. The primary reason as to why it didn’t live up to my expectations lies in the story, and how it has trouble weaving through its plot devices. The main arc to focus on his Viggo Mortensen’s character, as he tries to selfishly keep his kids away from the spoils and sin of the modern world in order to build a “Plato’s Republic” of his own. I found this to be interesting, especially the first act where you get to see how this family thrives. Where my concerns lie is when they actually leave to go to the funeral of their mother/wife, which they were forbidden from doing so. As this journey commences, we begin to see the writers try to unravel the characters, but in the worst of ways. I felt sad for Mortensen’s character, but could not relate to him whatsoever, or his kids. Yes, I understand that they live in a separate world from me, but there are many things to take into account. For starters, the conclusion to this tale felt randomly thrown together. A conflict that arose fell in favor of an opposing force, to say the least, but it quickly cleaned up in order for the audience to have a “happy” ending. I didn’t get the logical sense of this, but was forced to brush it off anyway. Next, the mentality and teachings of Mortensen’s character is difficult to grasp/care for. I get what he is trying to accomplish, but when he talks of politics or religion things get muddled. It was a tough pill to swallow every time they cut down Christianity; they weren’t necessarily blasphemous, but they hated on the religion quite harshly in a number of scenes. Finally, I don’t think that there was enough juice behind the character development for me to become heavily invested. What you see in the trailer is essentially the gist of where our characters are developing. There’s nothing more to it, besides confusion in their ideologies. Basically, they are a bunch of free-mind thinkers who hate capitalism, relying on religion, and relying on what society provides (i.e. fast food, video games, television). I never really rooted for these people, besides their quest to see their mom. I get that they are a different breed of thinking, and it is fascinating to watch how they operate, but in terms of understanding and traveling alongside with them, that is where I get left behind. Apart from that disconnection to the characters, I found the ending to be rather open-ended. Like I stated beforehand, everything felt like it stopped, only moving again to fit the desires of the “hero” of the story. Coincidentally, everything did work in the favor of this character, and it was strange after seeing build up that culminated throughout the first two acts. On the plus side, I did enjoy the acting and style of filming. Everyone did a good job, especially the kids, and they made for compelling character performances. I’m always a sucker for Indie style, and I was enthused by this director and cinematographer’s choice of filmmaking, using yellows, greens, and browns to make their figures and surroundings pop. The setting was nice too, going from a forest to a small town with some big houses. It was a small release, but equipped with some good tools to make the film seem alive. Besides those, there were some parts of the story that I did take fun in, like the kids discovering new things about modern society, but those were just some gold nuggets. I wouldn’t say that everything else was terrible, but I also wouldn’t say that it was really good. I was interested with what I saw, but was left disappointed, thinking that this release was just okay. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here’s the trailer: