F.I.L.M. of the Week (March 12, 2015)

12 03 2015

Often times, the genres “action” and “adventure” get grouped together with a hyphen or a slash mark as if they were interchangeable terms.  It seems that not too long ago, Hollywood pumped out both kinds of movies in relatively equal measure.  Now, with the seemingly unstoppable rise of the comic book adaptation, action films have shoved out all the more epic, ambitious adventures.

Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s “Kon-Tiki,” on the other hand, serves as a potent reminder of just how captivating a real adventure is when done well.  It’s no surprise that Disney has quickly scooped up the directing duo to steer the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise back into safer waters. Rønning and Sandberg’s knack for balancing exciting storytelling and impressive set pieces makes their work a more than deserving pick for my “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

The movie follows the simple yet truly extraordinary of Thor Heyerdal, an anthropologist whose ethnographic research on Polynesia suggests Peruvians settled on the island from the west.  His theory receives dismissal from the academic community, which suggests that such a feat was impossible with their lack of technology.  Thor, rather than giving up or just yelling, decides to disprove his detractors by sailing from Peru to Polynesia on a raft built only with the materials at the disposal of the settlers.

Thor, along with an eclectic crew of sailors and explorers, embark on a perilous, foolish, and admirable quest on the high seas that sees them facing down some of nature’s most dangerous foes.  All the while, “Kon-Tiki” makes for a refreshing movie to watch simply because it thrills without the weight of Hollywood star iconography.  Without the baggage brought to the film by well-known actors necessary to sell a film like this at a studio, we can really get to know the characters, not just analyze them in light of what we already know about the person playing them.

“Kon-Tiki” is the kind of movie that aims to do little more than entertain, but it achieves that aim without devolving into mindlessness or artlessness.  Rønning and Sandberg do not aim to leave any big questions, although I had one at the end: how did a movie with only a few lines of non-English dialogue manage to pull of an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film?!

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