Rating:  4 (out of 5).  Kon-Tiki (2013).  Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian explorer, together with five other ment, crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1947 on a balsa wood raft.   They were set to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle on the Polynesian Islands.  This movie shows their pre-trip preparations and their 101 day-long journey across 8,000 kilometers.    While some critics like the film more than others (of course), the prevailing sentiment is perhaps best captured by The New York Post which calls the film a “throwback to the uplifting, irony-free, outdoorsy ’60s Disney yarns.”  The reviews are below.

Starring:  Agnes Kittelsen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Jakob Oftebro, Odd Magnus Williamson, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Tobias Santelmann
Rating:  PG-13
Genre:  Action, Adventure, Biography, Drama, History





The New York Times notes, “… “Kon-Tiki” is instead a stolidly old-fashioned and manly hair-in-the-wind entertainment of the sort that could have filled out the bottom of a studio double bill.”

Chicago Sun-Times thinks, “The film does a great job of capturing the skepticism of the international scientific community, which initially scoffed at Heyerdahl’s thesis that native Polynesians originally arrived from the Americas, rather than the other way around.”

New York Daily News says, “This musical, elliptical, personal, poetical, sensual indie produced by Jay-Z has a seductive DIY feel and a lineage that’s part early Spike Lee and late Charles Bukowski.”

The Los Angeles Times thinks, “Like that Jackie Robinson biopic, “Kon-Tiki” features a protagonist who was determination itself, a filmmaking style that is square as opposed to cutting edge, and a story that is strong enough to involve us despite its earnest underpinnings.”

According to The Austin Chronicle, “It’s an absorbing and often lyrical piece of storytelling that doesn’t overembellish the facts or rely on a pumped-up score or whiplash editing to heighten the dramatic action.”

The Boston Globe notes, ““Kon-Tiki” is stalwart and uplifting and there are passing moments of wonder. And, yes, Heyerdahl pulled off an astonishing accomplishment, no matter what he did or didn’t prove. The movie is suitable entertainment for 12-year-old kids of all ages, so ignore some of us if we wish for a deeper, weirder version of this story — maybe one directed by Werner Herzog and starring the late Klaus Kinski.”

New York Post gives the show 3 out of 4 stars, and further writes, “… it’s a terrifically engaging throwback to the uplifting, irony-free, outdoorsy ’60s Disney yarns from which we kids would emerge begging our parents for a chance to go get shipwrecked or to trek across the Arctic or at least to follow through on that treehouse they promised.”

According to The New York Observer, “Kon-Tiki” is “As an epic of awesome achievement, it never bores.”

NPR thinks, “Kon-Tiki will have no shortage of death-defying drama, though it sometimes comes at the expense of fact.”

The Times-Picayune says, “… their film feels faintly incomplete from an emotional standpoint. Overall, though, it still works, as that feeling takes a back seat to its sense of adventure and inspiration, which float “Kon-Tiki” along and help it overcome its flaws — and, ultimately, to triumph over them.”

The Hollywood Reporter concludes, “Thor Heyerdahl’s legendary rafting expedition gets glossy treatment in this handsome but underwhelming action-adventure.”

Variety observes, “This is filmmaking of great ambition and ability, though it’s not always conducive to solid storytelling.”

The Arizona Republic thinks, “There are moments in the seafaring adventure “Kon-Tiki” that can make a moviegoer’s heart beat a little faster, especially when sharks or whales are involved.”

Slant Magazine writes, “…the film is also disappointingly square; it lacks the fire and eccentricity that we want from our stories of adventurers driven by obsessions that could be seen as egotistical or just plain bonkers.”

TimeOut New York gives the movie 4 out of 5 stars, and further writes, “Kon-Tiki is boys’-own adventure to an extreme degree; the fun and imaginative curiosity race neck and neck. The film’s message is sometimes clouded by sentiment, but mainly, we’re told to follow our heads and our sextants, a good thing to hear on occasion.”

RogerEbert.com thinks, “”Kon-Tiki” is filmed in a more realistic style than the fanciful “Life of Pi,” but it offers no less a sense of wonder, as evoked in scenes with flying fish, electric eels that light up the nocturnal waters, or simply the rapturously beautiful panoramic view of the tiny craft as a speck on the vast oceanscape.”

The Oregonian gives the movie a B grade, and writes, “Pal Sverre Hagen  gives a magnetic performance as the handsome, cocky Heyerdahl, who marshals a six-man crew on a journey that’s like “Life of Pi”  in reverse: the drifting rafters encounter whale sharks, flying fish, bioluminescent wonders, and harrowing storms.”

According to Movie Nation, “… “Kon-Tiki” is a grand old school yarn with enough drama and dramatic incidents to make even Indiana Jones envious at the adventure of it all.”

A.V. Club notes, “Kon-Tiki, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s modern dramatization, while well-acted and smartly filmed, rarely musters any actual sense of excitement.”

IndieWire writes, “… in a category that traditionally allows Academy voters to show off their arthouse credentials, or their social awareness, “Kon-Tiki” may prove simply too lacking in both, too escapist and popcorny, to really figure in the race to the podium, especially against heavyweight competition from “Amour” in particular.”


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