Kon-Tiki Blu-ray Review
Historical dramas can be tricky things. Some aspects of the story at times need to be changed or boosted up to make it more appealing. It is the nature of the beast. But as long as the story retains the essence of what took place or the people involved, it is fine. KON-TIKI is one such drama. I’ve read that there were some inconsequential things that were changed, but the spirit of a determined adventurer is well intact. KON-TIKI won’t please people who want action every minute. It will reward people who savor the more quiet moments.
KON-TIKI is basically one man’s pursuit of proving a point. That man is Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen). Thor did research at Polynesia. He discovered that the first inhabitants may have come from the East instead of the West. The East in question would be Peru. This remarkable tale has been told before in a book by Heyerdahl and an award winning documentary directed by him.
The story is the real star of the show. It drives the film and everything else is inconsequential including any character development. You only really get to know Heyerdahl and his life. I wasn’t bothered by this and viewers won’t either because they will be enthralled by this adventure.
Kon-Tiki is the name of the balsawood raft that gets constructed by Heyerdahl and his mates. He wanted to sail from Peru to Polynesia in the same materials that the people from 1500 years ago used. At first Heyerdahl gets resistance from people in thinking this is impossible or foolhardy. There was turn down after turn down in trying to get funding to finance the trip. Finally the president of Peru saw the opportunity for good publicity and stepped in.
All of this mostly takes place in 1947 right after World War II. They do show some flashbacks of Heyerdahl when he was younger. It showed his reckless side in doing as he pleased. The time he spent on Polynesia is also touched upon and is the catalyst for all that came after. The scenes on the ocean were remarkably shot on open water instead of a set or a tank. Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg wanted these scenes as realistic as possible for the reasoning behind this decision. I believe they achieved this goal.
Heyerdahl is joined by five other men on his journey. Each of them had their own role like radio operation or navigator. None of the characters truly stand out. There were modern devices on the raft like the radio to promote the trip and tell the outside world the progress they were making.
Cinematographer Geir Hartly Andreassen does a beautiful job capturing the sights on the seas. The water just glistens on the screen. The men have to overcome several things on their journey. These include sharks, bad weather, health, the raft possibly sinking and just being out on the ocean for over three months. The film is the most expensive Norwegian film ever made and made the most movie there as well in 2012. I personally enjoyed the moments where there isn’t much going on. There are nice scenes like when they spot a bird which indicates land is near. When they finally reach landfall, the moment of exhilaration and relief in the men’s faces is a sight to behold.
KON-TIKI is a fun voyage that celebrates the rejection of conventional wisdom and taking chances.
KON-TIKI BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The visuals are stunning and they come through so nicely on Blu-ray. The blues of the ocean stand out.
Audio: The outdoors is perfectly captured. You hear succinctly the waves crashing and the raft gently rocking back and forth.
English version of the film runs 1:36:01. The Norwegian version is 1:59:02.
Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story (25:29): The two directors and the main actor recount the making of the film. Fans like Matt Lauer also chime in on what impact this story had on them. Maria Menounos introduces the pieces and narrates parts of it.
Visual Effects Featurette (9:25): Fun feature that had no words, but just music. It showed the visual effects that were employed.