Kon-Tiki photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgKon-Tiki, the Inca god of Sun and storm, was the name of the balsa-wood raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl. The primitive vessel was instrumental in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. The purpose was to show that the South American people could have settled Polynesia in the pre-Columbian era using only the simple materials and technologies available to them at the time. I kept thinking that just because they could doesn’t necessarily mean they did but that’s never addressed. Incidentally most anthropologists now believe they did not but that‘s another discussion entirely. There’s no denying that Heyerdahl was a brave and admirable trailblazer who basically just wanted to prove that you couldn’t rule the possibility out. Their mission was presented in a non fictional account in 1950 that actually won the Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature the following year. Now it’s been made into a historical drama, which was subsequently nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Amour received the award).

Kon-Tiki is a pleasant but very conventional movie. The plot is mostly made of the 4,300 nautical mile-journey from Peru to Polynesia aboard a flimsy raft. Heyerdahl is a tall blonde tanned Norwegian. His staff is also made up of the same, well four Norwegians and a Swede, but they all posses the same handsomely pale features, indistinguishable from each other. These characters are really generic. That even includes the intrepid star who should’ve been more exciting. Over three months, the team’s scientific voyage is met with a few small setbacks but it’s largely uneventful. Oh there’s storms, a shark gets on the boat, a whale almost topples the raft. Those developments are gripping so those moments engage. The cinematography is pretty too. But more often than not, the action focuses on the humans. Unfortunately their humdrum conversations are boring. The occasional infighting amongst the team does not a film make.

26 Responses to “Kon-Tiki”

  1. To be honest, this didn’t look that interesting to me either, so even if it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, I can’t say I’m taken aback by your review. Nice writeup as always.


  2. I liked this movie better when it was called “Life of Pi”.

    LOL. Just kidding. 😉


    • That’s funny because your comparison is somewhat accurate. There’s even a scene of a whale shot from underneath in the water looking up at swims by, knocking the men out of the boat. There’s other similarities too, but they’re mostly superficial as Life of Pi was an infinitely better film.


  3. I had a few opportunities to see this one but ended up passing each time. Looks like I made the right choice. Nice review.


  4. Every time I see the preview for this I think “Can this just be over now?” Sounds like the movie might be the same experience…


    • You know I actually went out of my way to see this because the trailer (and reviews) hooked me. Everything exciting is contained in that trailer. What it didn’t show were all the dull conversations these explorers had on the boat. Zzzzzzzzz


  5. Nice review. I think I better skip this, though. LOL at Fogs’ comment.

    Oh, and I don’t know if it’s my browser but I can’t see the poster.


  6. Good Review Mark however I liked it a bit more than you did. It is not the most exciting film ever made but I found it rather interesting.


  7. martin250 Says:

    Nice review Mark.


  8. Sounds like a rental for sure…sounds like Life of Pi. The cover artwork is really fascinating though.


  9. Such a crazy tale seems like it could be great fodder for a dramatic feature. I mean the guy set out on a dangerous journey merely to bolster a theory that something could be possible, not even necessarily that it happened. Now that’s dedication. It’s disappointing to hear that its characters and conversations are so humdrum. The documentary sounds like it would be more interesting. Sounds like a case where the real events are more engaging than the art they inspired.


    • Thor Heyerdahl personally believed that South American people DID settle Polynesia. However experts didn’t think that civilization could make such a long trip using the primitive resources available to them. That’s what inspired Thor to make the journey.


  10. I was planning on seeing this not only because of the Oscar nomination, but because of the beautiful trailers. But I think this may be one to skip after reading your review. Thanks Mark:)


  11. The part about the shark and the whale, captures my interest. If it comes out on netflix, I’ll probably watch this. Great review.


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