review by Bobby Blakey
Some of the best movies out there are the independent ones that are rarely seen. One of these that came out of nowhere is Captain Fantastic that features a great cast including Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle, and Frank Langella, but does it have anything that makes it live up to its title or will it get lost in the woods once and for all?
Captain Fantastic follows a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education in the forests of the Pacific Northwest who is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent. This is one of those great special movies that offers up something fresh and new while dealing with familiar situations in a different way. The story is not overly complex, but it does offer some layers for both the characters and its direction that elevates to a higher standard. This movie could have easily been a disaster given the story, but thanks to every member of the cast director Matt Ross was able to bring a world to life that you believe and will enjoy watching. Mortensen gives one of the best performances of his career offering up a wide variety of emotions and passion to the role that showcases sparks of insanity and fun, but all the time a deep love for his kids.
You will find yourself bit confused at times to why they are living the way they are and where the real love for each other comes from, but as the film unfolds it all becomes crystal clear. There are some really funny moments here that will have you laugh out loud, but make no mistake there is a powerful story of love and loss here that is layered on the outside. The first half of the film is easily the best seeing this world that they have created for themselves and everything he has them doing to learn to survive. Most of the humor comes when they are taken out of their element and into the real world which is the same place where the majority of the real drama and challenges occur.
In a world full of sequels and remakes it is great to see something so original get a release other than thrown out straight to DVD, but for things like this to continue getting made it will be up to the audiences to keep them coming. If you are looking for a great film with something more than explosions and special effects then check out Captain Fantastic and enter this quirky strange world of family dysfunction.