Encapsulated Movie Reviews – 6 New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsComic-Con and Star Trek stories may be dominating this weekend, but that doesn’t mean the indie film scene is lying low.  We’re taking a gander at a whopping six new films that provide film fans more options.  From dramas to docs, zombies to steampunks, we’re checking out a wide range of interesting and out there topics via this week’s Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on the films Train To Busan, Captain Fantastic, Hooligan Sparrow, Quitters, Vintage Tomorrows and Under The Sun below!

Train to Busan

(Well Go USA)

Now THIS is the film the sub-par World War Z should have been.  Mixing some very up close and personal practical zombie violence with just a hint of CGI killer crowd enhancement (hordes that actually look real – go figure!), this South Korean import is one scary and ferocious mother.  And while it does liberally borrow from flesh-eating flicks before in both character (comes complete with selfish character who must get his comeuppance!) and setting (the trappings of a train screams of Romero’s farmhouse on wheels!), the film nevertheless keeps the tension level high and thus the audience fully glued.  So while this train doesn’t enter any new undead territories, it nevertheless stays firmly on the terror tracks.

Captain Fantastic

(Bleecker Street Media)

As with most of the films picked by notable actor Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic is a thoughtful examination that dares to dabble in both sides.  Meaning within its tale of a father raising his kids in the outer forests of the Pacific Northwest amidst the concerns by more practical family members there’s a firm examination of the positives and negatives of such a drastic and unconventional choice and the consequences of both.  It’s what makes the film much more than a weepy preachy drama and like the plight of the characters within leaves it up to each person to decide validity.  But as the bearded-faced patriarch of the family, Mortensen once again delivers a performance that packs a real and raw emotional punch that enhances and never takes away from the film itself – fantastic is a fine word.

Hooligan Sparrow

(The Film Collaborative)

Not only a doc with utter importance – the chronicling of a group of activists as they call out the Chinese government for ignoring female victim’s rights – Hooligan Sparrow is also a tense tale right from the front lines.  In Director Nanfu Wang’s attempt to film the exploits of the amazing maverick Ye Haiyan (aka Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of fearless ladies, the doc helmer puts herself right in government crosshairs and it’s harrowing to watch.  From being photographed and followed by persons unknown to having to go on the run avoiding friends and family in fear of being detained, the fearless filmmaker and her determined subjects dare to give voice to those too afraid to and the power of their collaboration here speaks loud and proud.


(Momentum Pictures)

Quitters is a film that wants to encompass every trope from previous teenage tales (think pre-pubescent parent problems, dating issues and teacher/student trysts blended together!) in the hopes of creating something anew.  But in trying to be everything to everyone, the film feels downright directionless and as a result the few best bits suffer.  (Even the memorable Mira Sorvino, stunning at the beginning of the film as a drug-addled mom, is all but wasted here!)  But Quitters main problem sadly lays within its lead character Clark played by Ben Konigsberg.  Coming off like a highly unlikable version of Rushmore’s Max Fischer (minus the charisma or charm!) with a distinctive psychotic self-serving side, he’s an extremely hard character to like – not unlike the film he embodies.

Vintage Tomorrows

(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

While I’m a huge enthusiast of both cosplay and all forms of creative visual expression, I found myself lost and a tad bored with the documentary Vintage Tomorrows.  Taking on the complex Steampunk movement with even little titular insight (a melding of Victorian era style and sci-fi?), everyone within seems to have a different and contrasting opinion on the subject matter.  Not to mention that even the fans acknowledge some seedy societal happenings within the era they’re celebrating.  Bottom line is a decent doc should help the uninitiated come away with a sense of areas less travelled – Vintage Tomorrows seems strictly for those in the know-how.

Under the Sun

(Icarus Films)

While the doc Under The Sun never lacks in the department of savory subject matter, the frequent stagnate staging is another story.  Meaning the revealing of hidden footage taken within militant North Korea of folks in power staging sentimental scenes of a supposed real-life ordinary family as the young daughter prepares for ‘Day of the Shining Star’ (aka Kim Jong-Il’s birthday!) is captivating for sure.  (Loved seeing them stage an impromptu scene at the father’s fake place of work!)  But amidst some fascinating footage taken within the most oppressive seeming country in the world, the filmmakers’ fly-on-the-wall approach here proves utterly emotionless and renders the film impossible to fully engage in.  We know little about the main players involved and the only insight from the filmmakers are a few barren title cards that feel as empty and detached as the country their shooting itself.  In the realm of a relatable documentary construction is key – found footage is not enough.

Train to Busan poster

Captain Fantastic poster

Hooligan Sparrow poster

Quitters poster

Vintage Tomorrows poster

Under the Sun poster


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

  1. No Comments