Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic

(2016)

He prepared them for everything except the outside world.

Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest lives devoted dad Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his six kids. Ben has dedicated his life to raising extraordinary children with a rigorous physical and intellectual education, and a primal connection to the natural world. When a tragedy strikes, the family is forced to leave. Suddenly the children must face the excitement and the perils of an unfamiliar outside world while Ben is compelled to reexamine his idea of what it means to be a parent.

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Flicks Review

Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, a back-to-basics dad raising his family way off grid, in a cabin deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. When his wife dies, the kooky family sets off to carry out her wishes and spare her the Christian funeral her parents plan.... More

It’s a road trip movie, focused on following the six fish-out-of-water backwoods kids, as they journey through a modern, materialist America, fraught with challenges for a single dad intent on educating his kids in socialist ideals, and survivalist skills.

With no need to hunt your own food in the age of shopping malls and fast food joints, the question posed is how best to raise children. Do we equip them for today’s realities, or dream big and fill them with ideals of utopia? Heavy ideas, handled with a light touch by writer/director Matt Ross, making for a witty, warm and winsome tale of the post-modern family, Little Miss Sunshine variety.

The narrative doesn’t quite hold together for the third act, so whilst it may not be fantastic, it sure is an entertaining journey, in the company of a compelling cast of kids, guided by a magnetic Mortensen. His Ben’s no superhero, but rather an all-too human father. You may not agree with his unconventional approach to parenting, education and grief counselling, but it’s hard not to warm to a guy whose love for his family shines so bright.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 6 ratings, 3 reviews
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BY cinemusefilm superstar

Subversive films are often camouflaged behind genre or movie titles. Many are promoted as action thrillers, dramas and even comedy but in reality carry dystopian themes about the breakdown of modern civilisation. Some recent examples of subversive films are High Rise (2016), Money Monster (2015) and 99 Holmes (2015). The film Captain Fantastic (2016) is also subversion in camouflage, with a clever title that evokes a mythical super-hero but in reality is about someone who trains his offspring... More military-style to prepare for the moral decay of modern civilisation.

Enlightened counter-culturalist Matt Ross (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife have raised six children in a utopian paradise buried deep in the Washington forests. His wife has been absent for months, hospitalised with mental illness, while Matt continues to home-school and train the kids in survival, combat and hunting. They are well-versed in philosophy, political theory and literature, are all musical and know how to live with nature. Matt sneers at religion so Christmas is ignored and they celebrate Noam Chomsky Day as rebellion against Christian society.

Matt is a firm, loving father and expects the children to live by his offbeat moral code, but they know nothing of how town-folk live or of the technological world outside. They expect the unfiltered truth about everything so when the eight year-old asks about sexual intercourse the factual reply would shock modern parents. None has ever seen a video game, they have no idea of what Coke tastes like and ogle in amazement at the size of people eating in McDonalds. When they head to the city for their mother's funeral the encounter with the 'real world' is both hilarious and confronting.

On some levels, this story is so fanciful that it could be regarded as simply an eccentric family comedy. When we hear the eight-year old analyse the American Bill of Rights, or the ten-year old quote from Karl Marx, or see all six kids engaged in elite athlete training including extreme rock-climbing in dangerous weather, it is clear we are not meant to take the whole story seriously. At another level however, this is one of the most refreshing, heart-warming and thought-provoking films in quite a while. It is especially endearing in depicting the many small moments where natural honesty confronts civilised artifice. Mortensen has a dominant presence, the acting and personalities of the six children are delightful, and the wilderness photography is beautiful. But believability is so over-stretched that what could have been a brilliant film settles instead for being a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable fable about conformity and difference.Hide


I was very pleased to see Viggo back and better than ever, he leads a brilliant cast of kids.
I loved the witty nature of the dialogue, the unpredictability and the questions raised around societal norms.
Would be 4 1/2 stars if that was possible. Highly recommended


BY DanielK superstar

Ignore the trailer. Captain Fantastic is not the quirky Little Miss Sunshine-style indie you might be expecting. Well, mostly not… Despite what some of its detractors have claimed, this is not a film that smugly champions the quirky, irresponsible life-style choices of a lovably zen hippie and his army of forest-sprite children. Rather, it is an occasionally tough, quietly moving tale about having the humility and strength of character to compromise, admit to your mistakes, and make new... More choices even when it seems you long ago passed the point of no return.

It’s not perfect – it takes a while to get completely into its stride, some of the scripting is a little on-the-nose, and one key child performance doesn’t quite measure up to the high standard set by rest of the uniformly excellent cast – but these are mere quibbles that are mostly eclipsed by absolutely brilliant work from Viggo Mortensen who effortlessly embodies the mind and soul of the character he was clearly born to play. Recommended.Hide


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The Press Reviews

80% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Finely wrought and inventive, Captain Fantastic surely earns the lofty praise of its title. Full Review

  • Should connect in a major way with those looking to be swept up and moved by such a fundamental human experience. Full Review

  • Crowdpleasing for the right kind of crowd, but about as radical as a kale crisp. Full Review

  • A fiercely original, pleasantly unpredictable character piece. This is a gang of outsiders with something valuable to say about the world we live in. Full Review

  • Captures something brainy and bullheaded about Mortensen that feels true. Full Review

  • Mr. Mortensen, whose intensity has the sting of possession, has a way of making you believe his characters can do whatever they set their minds to: fly, leap over buildings, save the world. Full Review

  • In largely succumbing to the very complacency its characters claim to abhor, it turns out to be - I hate to say it - a far less interesting movie than it appears. Full Review

  • The first time I saw it I walked away feeling quite moved. It was only the second time around – and there's not many films I find the time to see twice – that the flaws and omissions became unbearable. Full Review

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