The sun is shining and the birds are chirping, but it's cold as hell and that's just as good a reason as any to stay inside and watch a movie. In this age of comic book blockbusters "Kon-Tiki" is pulled straight from the pages of the most compelling graphic novel of all, real life.
This film takes us to 1947 as the world is gripped with excitement as the young Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen) embarks on an astonishing expedition; a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean on the Kon-Tiki raft. From his days living in the Marquesas, Thor suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by ancient South Americans from thousands of miles to the east. Despite his inability to swim and fear of water, Thor decides to prove his theory by sailing the legendary voyage himself. After replicating the design of an ancient raft in balsa wood, Thor and five fellow adventurers set sail from Peru. Their only modern equipment is a radio, and they take a parrot along for company. A natural leader, Thor uses the stars and the ocean’s current to navigate the raft. For three dangerous months on the open sea, encountering raging storms, sharks, and all the dangers the Ocean can muster, Polynesia is their goal not only to prove his theory but also to survive the ultimate adventure.
One of the classic tales of human endurance and exploration in our species history, it also makes for a pretty darn fun old-school Hollywood style yarn. Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg crafted a stunning looking film that falls somewhere in between "Life of Pi" and "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" as they travel the high seas navigating the danger that awaits them. The narrative moves at a brisk but expected pace never really crossing any new ground or giving us any in-depth character development beyond the expeditions fearless leader Thor, but it brings home the ideal of the nature of the human spirit and our need to push our boundaries and discover new things on a daily basis. From that standpoint the film does its job as Thor Heyerdahl is one of those unsung real life hero's that we occasionally need reminding of.
Pal Sverre Hagen who is probably best known from "Max Manus: Man of War" before this does a fine job as our hero Thor Heyerdahl. As the one actor who is probably given the most material to dive into on the page makes every effort at making Thor a charismatic yet flawed hero who is willing to sacrifice everything for his dreams. Sadly the rest of the characters in this story were woefully underwritten, no one was terrible yet it leaned far too heavily on its premise, the stunning photography and the innate charisma of its leading man.
Picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the Blu-Ray features two behind the scenes featurettes along with the extended cut of the film that adds 22 minutes to the film.
At the end of the day, "Kon-Tiki" is a beautiful looking film that deserves to be seen on the big screen with a real life adventure story that deserves to be told, even though it really brings nothing new to the table.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Kon-Tiki" is now available to rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers. You can also find it for purchase from all major retailers like iTunes, amazon.ca and HMV.