Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 4
Five fair-haired Norwegians and a bald Swedish ethnographer spend 100 days and 5000 miles charting the Pacific on a balsa wood raft to prove right adventurer Thor Heyerdal’s (Pål Sverre Hagen) theory that South Americans, not Asians, populated Polynesia. Roadblocks to perfection: a second-act encounter with a shark bordered on Asian splatter, and instead of feeling around for an ending, directorial duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg might just as easily have put an "Amen" on it with the exquisite, cosmic passage-of-time sequence that marked day 101. Minor gripes aside, this sweeping, well-crafted epic, based on Heyerdal’s best-seller, is quick to the helm both on land and sea. Production designer Karl Júlíusson’s detailed period recreation of Brooklyn in the '40s and DP Geir Hartly Andreassen’s sense of natural light give the finished product a polish that would have quadrupled the film’s relatively paltry $16 million budget had it been shot in the WB water tank.
— Scott Marks