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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 April 15, 2014. Click on a movie title for more information, trailers and reviews.
Philomena. Rating: 5 (out of 5). A political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago, after she gave birth and was forced to live in a convent. The film, based on a true story, will be available on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. The critics are enamored with this film with New York Observer saying, “Philomena is not only my favorite film of 2013, but one of the most eloquent, powerful and perfect movies I have ever seen.” Reviews, video and more.
The Invisible Woman. Rating: 4 (out of 5). A happily married mother and schoolteacher, Nelly, is haunted by her past, when she had a complicated and fragile, yet exciting, relationship with Charles Dickens. This period drama premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. The critics are impressed with the film and especially the acting though some note that it has a "leisurely pace." As Variety says, “So tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.” Reviews, video and more.
Patrick: Evil Awakens. Rating: 3 (out of 5). A young nurse, who just started working in an isolated psychiatric ward, takes an interest in Patrick, a seemingly comatose patient who is actually a subject of a mad scientist’s experiments. Her innocent fascination turns sinister as Patrick begins using his psychic powers to manipulate her every move, sending her life into a terrifying spiral. Watch for it on VOD starting Tuesday, April 15. Most of the critics enjoyed (though did not love) this remake of the 1978 movie, and FearNet calls the film "a good example of how to remake an obscure but admired horror flick." Reviews, video and more.
Wolf Creek 2. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Another tourist becomes the prey for the serial killer Mick Taylor. The critics have given mixed reviews to this horror film that comes to VOD on Thursday, April 17. Reviews, video and more.
Beneath The Harvest Sky. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Casper and Dominic have been best friends since childhood. Wanting to get out of their quiet hometown on the Maine-Canada border, the boys make a pact to pool their earnings on a car and hit the road. But when Casper is drawn into drug smuggling with his outlaw father to pay his share, their friendship gets strained and both are forced to make adult choices too soon. The film premieres on VOD on Tuesday, April 15. There were more positive than negative reviews on the film and according to Variety, “”Beneath the Harvest Sky” offers a heartbreakingly authentic, vividly realized account of adolescent frustration and yearning.” Reviews, video and more.
Small Time. Rating: 3 (out of 5). Freddy Klein decides not to go to College, and instead joins his father in his used-car business. Premiering on VOD on Friday, April 18, The Village Voice thinks, “The film isn't without mirth and charm: Norris steals a number of scenes as the charismatic Ash, and the banter between Norris and Meloni is charmingly convivial. But as Surnow steers into serious waters, the direction of the storytelling becomes increasingly misguided.” Reviews, video and more.
Ride Along. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Ben, a security guard, joins a cop, James, on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the latter’s sister. Premiering on VOD on Tuesday, April 15, most of the critics are not impressed with this one. New York Magazine (Vulture) is one of the better reviews when they write, “It all mostly works, but you can’t help but wonder at times if it could have been a lot funnier if it had just a bit more edge.” Reviews, video and more.
The Nut Job. Rating: 2 (out of 5). Surly is banished from the park he lives in, and is forced to live in the dangerous city. Lucky for him, he comes across the only thing that can save not only his life, but the rest of the park community as well as winter approaches: Maury’s Nut Store. The film premieres on VOD on April 15. Most of the critics were unimpressed with this animated film, as The Arizona Republic says, “Ever had one of those artificially sweetened candies that taste OK at first but leaves a lingering, bitter aftertaste? That’s sort of how it goes with “The Nut Job.” Reviews, video and more.
A Promise. Rating: 1 (out of 5). Adapted from Stefan Zweig’s Journey into the Past, this film by French director Patrice Leconte centers on the affair between a handsome male secretary and the wife of a wealthy industrialist. Coming to VOD on Friday, April 18, this film has not won the heart of the critics, and IndieWire (The Playlist) thinks, “Leconte’s never been the edgiest of filmmakers, but “A Promise” is so free of anything close to an edge that it’s like watching a beige sphere for ninety-odd minutes—and it feels much longer.” Reviews, video and more.
Kid Cannabis. No rating. A dramatic film that tells the true story of a teen dropout based in Idaho, who builds a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring by trafficking drugs through the woods across the Canadian border. But his many vices may just leave this kid in way over his head. The film comes to VOD on Friday, April 18, the same day as its theatrical release, and no reviews are available as of writing. Video and more.
Bright Days Ahead (Les Beaux Jours). No Rating. A recently retired woman, eager to devote some free time to herself, begins taking part in some events at a local seniors center. When she becomes involved with a man decades younger than herself, she keeps this from her husband, and she soon begins to experience life in ways that she has not in a long time. The film premieres on the same day as its theatrical release, April 15, in French with English subtitles. No critic reviews are available as of time of writing. Video and more.