Critic's Pick: 'Kon-Tiki' stays true to a legendary adventure

There's a big, raw-boned appeal to "Kon-Tiki," the Norwegian film based on its native son explorer Thor Heyerdahl and the 100-plus days he and a crew of six spent on a balsa wood raft crossing the Pacific to prove a point. Carried by currents from Peru to the Polynesian islands, the journey was already legendary, the subject of Heyerdahl's 1948 book and his 1951 Oscar-winning doc. Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg's dramatic version all these years later was Norway's Oscar entry earlier this year. Starring a towering and unsinkable Pal Sverre Hagen as Thor, this is just the sort of sprawling adventure that is a perfect warm-up to summer. It begins with Heyerdahl's obsession, follows the story through construction of the boat from materials and techniques that indigenous people would have used and finally takes us on the harrowing journey itself. In hewing so closely to the history and by eschewing the sort of 3-D technology that we've come to expect in films like these, the directors have given us a piece of history that looks, well, historic — as if it survived the 1947 journey right alongside Thor.

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