Kon-Tiki by Joachim Ronning


Blood of Christ mountain stream

Starring Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen (Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to you in all the Confusion?) and Samuel Beam (Iron and Wine), Joachim Ronning’s Kon-Tiki tells the true tale of famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdal’s nearly 5,000 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft in an attempt to prove that Peruvians were the first to settle in Polynesia.

Wait, what?  Hang on a second.  Are you sure Samuel Beam isn’t a member of the cast?  I did find it rather odd that he was speaking fluent Norwegian…


One of these men is not an actual member of the crew.

If you think Amour has a lock on Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars then you better think again.  Kon-Tiki broke the Norwegian Box office record on the weekend of its domestic release selling 164,191 tickets.  After you’re through giving it a second thought, immediately revert to your first instinct.  Amour will win.

It’s not that Kon-Tiki doesn’t bring the goods.  It’s a big budget epic that sure to please even the most finicky of movie goers (you know who I mean, your idiot friends that say “oh my God, I have to read!?!” when they’re informed that the movie they’re about to see is subtitled).

Let’s take a quick run through the checklist of things that every film needs in order to be successful and see how well Kon-Tiki fares:

X True story
X Beards
X Action
X Parrots
X Conflict
X Ocean setting, or Kevin Costner, or both
X Love
X Sharks
X Adventure
X Half naked men, or Helen Hunt’s exposed boobs

A perfect 10/10!  Still, something feels a bit off when watching the film.  Once the boys hit the ocean there’s no sense of urgency.

Part of the problem is the junk science the film introduces.  There’s no such thing as the 13th wave being larger than the 12 that preceded it as the movie claims in one key scene.  Also, there was no fear on the part of the real crew around the whether or not the ropes would hold the raft together on the expedition because the balsa wood they used to build the raft was actually softer than the rope.  These changes are forgivable because they introduce some tension into the story, but it’s still not enough.

The other problem is one of time.  Once adrift in the ocean, the audience is never made privy to what day of the voyage it currently is.  The lack of this information makes it difficult to judge if the emotions being portrayed by the crew are genuine to their current situation.  Have they been afloat on the water 5 days or 50 days before they start to crack mentally?  It’s difficult to tell.

Casting these gripes aside, Kon-Tiki is a fun-filled adventure on open water that’s beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted.  It’s a worthy contender this year, and it’s fairly easy to see why it was nominated.  Enjoy it for the thrilling journey it presents; just don’t set your heart on it winning come Oscar night.

Kon_Tiki ★★★★☆
Directed by Joachim Ronning
Nominated For:
Foreign Language Film (Norway)
118 Minutes


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About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.