Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Kon-Tiki

Handsomely produced but indifferently scripted account of one of the most legendary sea voyages.

April 26, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1375918-Kon_Tiki_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

This squad of handsome, buff, blue-eyed blonds could be a bunch of models for an Aryan Youth poster, as photographed by Bruce Weber. What they are, in fact, is the crew of the raft Kon-Tiki, captained by the visionary Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen), which made its legendary 1947 journey from Peru to Polynesia, proving that it was indeed true that it was South Americans, not Asians, using a similar conveyance, who first settled there, arriving from the east.

For those who love seafaring tales of adventure with the tang of salty air practically wafting through the theatre, Kon-Tiki is highly recommended and is certainly less static than the second half of Life of Pi. Co-directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg have helmed it with an abundance of loving care and respect and it has been magnificently photographed by Geir Hartly Andreassen, who achieves some awesome underwater effects involving the various monsters which lurk beneath the raft and threaten it. A basic problem, however, is that those sharks and whales too often dominate the film, which gives devastatingly short shrift to the actual men aboard. It’s as if the filmmakers didn’t trust the audience to become involved in their backstories, as well as more of the technical aspects of the journey, and decided to deliver “adventure,” instead.

Although he ironically cannot swim, Heyerdahl, as played by Hagen, is the epitome of Gary Cooper-ish stoic heroism, with prescient visions in his baby-blues that we mere mortals can only guess at. The rest of the crew, apart from engineer Herman Watzinger (Anders Baasmo Christiansen), who provides traditional, comically incompetent relief as a chubby bumbler who never should have signed on in the first place, are completely interchangeable. The fact that you never really get to know any of them—their backgrounds or families—diminishes your caring about their survival.

Johan Söderqvist’s score tries to fill in the gaps in the screenplay but only succeeds in being overloaded, blustery and obvious, like imitation Max Steiner. Everything should come together with the climactic, triumphant sighting of land but the finale falls strangely flat, and the film wraps itself up too quickly with shots of the men partying at the biggest luau ever. End titles supply more information about what happened to them and, indeed, finally give them some real individualization, but it would have been preferable to see, and not read all about it. In short, this film, for all the money spent (as Norway’s most expensive movie to date) and dazzling visual scope, only makes you yearn to see the Oscar-winning documentary which Heyerdahl himself made in 1950.



Film Review: Kon-Tiki

Handsomely produced but indifferently scripted account of one of the most legendary sea voyages.

April 26, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1375918-Kon_Tiki_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

This squad of handsome, buff, blue-eyed blonds could be a bunch of models for an Aryan Youth poster, as photographed by Bruce Weber. What they are, in fact, is the crew of the raft Kon-Tiki, captained by the visionary Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen), which made its legendary 1947 journey from Peru to Polynesia, proving that it was indeed true that it was South Americans, not Asians, using a similar conveyance, who first settled there, arriving from the east.

For those who love seafaring tales of adventure with the tang of salty air practically wafting through the theatre, Kon-Tiki is highly recommended and is certainly less static than the second half of Life of Pi. Co-directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg have helmed it with an abundance of loving care and respect and it has been magnificently photographed by Geir Hartly Andreassen, who achieves some awesome underwater effects involving the various monsters which lurk beneath the raft and threaten it. A basic problem, however, is that those sharks and whales too often dominate the film, which gives devastatingly short shrift to the actual men aboard. It’s as if the filmmakers didn’t trust the audience to become involved in their backstories, as well as more of the technical aspects of the journey, and decided to deliver “adventure,” instead.

Although he ironically cannot swim, Heyerdahl, as played by Hagen, is the epitome of Gary Cooper-ish stoic heroism, with prescient visions in his baby-blues that we mere mortals can only guess at. The rest of the crew, apart from engineer Herman Watzinger (Anders Baasmo Christiansen), who provides traditional, comically incompetent relief as a chubby bumbler who never should have signed on in the first place, are completely interchangeable. The fact that you never really get to know any of them—their backgrounds or families—diminishes your caring about their survival.

Johan Söderqvist’s score tries to fill in the gaps in the screenplay but only succeeds in being overloaded, blustery and obvious, like imitation Max Steiner. Everything should come together with the climactic, triumphant sighting of land but the finale falls strangely flat, and the film wraps itself up too quickly with shots of the men partying at the biggest luau ever. End titles supply more information about what happened to them and, indeed, finally give them some real individualization, but it would have been preferable to see, and not read all about it. In short, this film, for all the money spent (as Norway’s most expensive movie to date) and dazzling visual scope, only makes you yearn to see the Oscar-winning documentary which Heyerdahl himself made in 1950.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Tracks
Film Review: Tracks

Ably supported by Adam Driver, Mia Wasikowska commands the screen in John Curran’s superbly photographed drama based on a true story. More »

Hollidaysburg
Film Review: Hollidaysburg

Well-observed, empathetic look at friends reuniting over their first college break. More »

The Zero Theorem
Film Review: The Zero Theorem

A noisy, hyperkinetic, visually gorgeous spectacle that tackles the mother of all big questions–the meaning of life—Terry Gilliam's latest is sometimes frustrating and occasionally outright goofy, but it's never dull. More »

Art and Craft
Film Review: Art and Craft

Documentary portrait of the artist as a disturbed man, but one who is overwhelmingly endearing, functioning and talented—and whose métier happens to be art forgery. This smartly produced and constructed art-themed art-house entry delivers a canvas of caper, comedy and delightful curiosities that engage and provoke some serious thought. Like the hero’s forgeries, it deserves a close look. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Maze Runner
Film Review: The Maze Runner

Youths try to break out of a deadly maze in the latest young-adult doomsday thriller. More »

This is Where I Leave You
Film Review: This Is Where I Leave You

Siblings bond, fight and face new problems after the death of their father in an ensemble dramedy based on the best-selling novel. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here