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Kon-Tiki – VOD
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
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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New on VOD
Here are the new VOD films for the week of March 4, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
12 Years a Slave. Rating: 5 (out of 5). Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York, is abducted and sold to slavery in the 1800s. This year's Oscar Winner for Best Picture (amongst other awards) comes to VOD on March 4. Critics loved this movie, New York Post calls it “The "Schindler's List" of slavery films.” Reviews, video and more.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Rating: 4 (out of 5). Katniss Everdeen is back on the big screen in this second installment of the Hunger Games series. She returns home safe with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, but their reunion with their families and friends is cut short when they learn that they have to compete in the Hunger Games for the second time. The film premieres on VOD on Friday, March 7, and has been positively received by critics. The Boston Globe thinks, “Book’s good. Movie’s better.” Reviews, video and more.
After The Dark. Rating: 3 (out of 5). A philosophy teacher challenges his class of twenty students with a thought experiment: faced with a nuclear apocalypse, they must determine which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race. The experiment turns deadly as everyone in the group turns against each other in a fight for survival. The film comes to VOD on Tuesday, March 4. It has received mixed reviews from the critics, but Los Angeles Times thinks, “While the story's conceit brims with metaphor and symbolism, it rarely comes off as didactic or heavy-handed. Instead, it's smart and provocative. The movie's late-breaking twist also feels about right.” Reviews, video and more.
Oldboy. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Joe Doucette, an advertising executive, was kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for 20 years. When he is released without any explanation, he begins to search for answers as to who and why he captured, only to find out that the bigger question is to why he was released. The film will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, March 4. The critics gave Spike Lee’s remake of a South Korean film mixed reviews, with inevitable comparisons to the original Oldboy. But according to Chicago Sun-Times, “It’s generally a respectful homage that has every bit as much stylishness and visual flair.” Reviews, video and more.
The Bag Man. Rating: 1 (out of 5). Jack is hired by Dragna, a legendary crime boss, to complete a simple but unusual task, and is made to wait for the latter’s arrival in a remote location. While waiting for the crime boss, Jack meets Rivka, a stunningly beautiful woman who becomes emotionally and physically entangled with Jack. When Dragna finally makes it to the location, there are sudden and extreme consequences for all involved. The film will be premiering on VOD on Tuesday, March 4. Most critics were not pleased with the film, and Los Angeles Times thinks, “"The Bag Man," starring John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Rebecca Da Costa, is a brutally violent, misogynistic mind game gone wrong.” Reviews, video and more.
Perfect Sisters. No Rating. Tired of their mother’s dependence on alcohol and abusive boyfriends, two sisters devise a plot to kill her. The film premires on VOD on Monday, March 10. No critic reviews are available as of writing.
Missing William. No Rating. A 30-something artist based in Rhode Island, Abby, is caring for her husband, William, who got injured in a bar fight. While nursing her husband back to health, her childhood sweetheart, James, tries to show her that life can be enjoyable again. The movie will be available on VOD starting Friday, March 7. No critic reviews available as of writing. Video and more.