Friday, July 15, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Ghostbusters (2016) and Captain Fantastic

Paul Feig's all-female reboot of Ghostbusters has long been a source of criticism, even before a single soul had a chance to watch the film. But despite the countless naysayers and blind bashers, critics have thrown their support to Feig's latest comedic teaming with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. While it's important to acknowledge that the Feig/McCarthy combination has long been praised by critics, including films like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy, hopefully I can provide an unbiased point of view as to what to expect from Ghostbusters.

Estranged friends and co-authors, Erin and Abby (Wiig and McCarthy), reconnect and discover mysterious paranormal happenings all across New York City. And after they assemble a crew to investigate these strange occurrences, a ghostly invasion sweeps across the city. While mass hysteria begins to spread, these unlikely ladies must work together to save NYC from massive paranormal threats.

Simply stated, Paul Feig's long-awaited and controversial remake is a worthy selection. Although this latest Ghostbusters film doesn't stack up to its original source material, or even the sequel, it still plays as a respectful and well-planned endeavor. Everything from timely cameos by all the original actors, including a thoughtful bust of the late comedic genius, Harold Ramis, to its refreshing detailed commitment surrounding the iconic cartoon series, Ghostbusters completely feels the part. Not all of the film's comedy is a home run, but enough humor sticks and helps to carry the film along. Each new female character comes with her pluses and minuses, yet their energy and enthusiasm becomes infectious to the audience. Paul Feig's Ghostbusters isn't going to blow you away, but the film solidifies itself as a worthwhile inclusion to the series.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

There's nothing better than going into a movie blind and being caught completely off guard by its effectiveness. Matt Ross (best known as Gavin Belson from HBO's Silicon Valley) writes and directs the indie gem and Cannes Film Festival prize-winning, Captain Fantastic. Ross emerges from this work as a true artist to watch, all while Captain Fantastic shines brightly as one of 2016's finest movies of the year.

Nestled deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) raises his children off the grid and secluded from civilization. Teaching all of the psychical tools required to hunt and survive, as well as cerebral critical thinking skills that allow the children to formulate their own opinions, the family is forced to leave their paradise after the unexpected death of their mother. Reconnecting with modern-day living tests the family and raises questions as to whether their father is helping or hindering their personal growth.

Captain Fantastic's lead character, Ben, lives the type of life that, deep down, we all long for to some degree. Completely self sufficient and free from the worries of the world, selling the audience on this far-fetched family lifestyle is an extremely difficult task. However, a detailed screenplay and brilliant performances by the entire cast transform this unrealistic backdrop into a believable plot catalyst. The obstacles and burdens on this family make for a dramatic, yet charmingly funny, experience. Captain Fantastic is a thought-provoking film that delivers a winning story and top notch performances. But these aren't the only strengths of the movie, Matt Ross offers exceptional direction for a rather inexperienced filmmaker. Although Captain Fantastic may have benefited greater from a few deeper and more emotional subplots concerning the children, in addition to cutting the running time down to improve pacing, these shortcomings hardly inhibit the film from being one of 2016's best entries.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B+

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