USA - 1994
Hello, America! This is Mad Prof. Mike with the Headbanger Movie Review! I knew I was in trouble as the credits of "RAPA NUI" informed me that none other than Kevin Cost-More, err... I mean, Kevin Costner... was the producer.
I tried to convince myself I wasn't in for yet another crappy, pretentious, Hollywood-ized appropriation of native culture, made by and for a bunch of yobs who have read a few pages of Joseph Campbell in order to have something to talk about in their New Age Crystal Awareness workshops.
Mr. Costner crushed this attempt so mercilessly, I found myself wishing he'd used a "Method" approach for the scene in "THE BIG CHILL" where he's found in a bathtub with his wrists slit. A *VERY* "Method" appraoch!
"RAPA NUI" is a "Romeo and Juliet" type story about young lovers on Easter Island, circa 1600. The story is based on Island lore, but the handling of the material is so schmaltzy, it feels like a hybrid of Melrose Place and Gilligan's Island. There's a valid message in "RAPA NUI," sure. The people of Easter Island decimated their natural resources to the point that when the Europeans arrived, there was nothing left and inter-tribal conflict over food had led to generations of bloodshed and the introduction of Long Pig into the diet. Yummy.
Open an encyclopedia and skim the entry on "Easter Island" for five minutes to get this message quickly and painlessly, as opposed to watching this dog of a movie. "RAPA NUI" is just too damned pretty. Easter Island looks gorgeous... photographed with lots of intrusive helicopter shots and Geoffrey Unsworth knock-offs. Easter Island is the most desolate hell-hole on Earth; Costner and his buddies make it look like a great spot for a Club Med.
Despite the bijillons of dollars pumped into this movie, I was never convinced I was seeing something authentic. The Easter Islanders were all too healthy and aerobi-cised; their teeth were too good. The camera work was too slick and the ending too damn happily Hollywood for me to buy any of it. The major themes of "RAPA NUI" were handled much better by Dr. Suess in The Sneetches and The Lorax. I'm sorry, but any movie that features the laughably "Deus Ex Machina" appearance of an iceberg is not for me.
I liked "RAPA NUI" for one thing... I love actors who make you point at the screen and say, "Ohhh!!! That Guy." Y'know... people you've seen in a million movies and shows, but damned if you know their names. "RAPA NUI" is full of them. EVERY guy you've EVER seen playing a Pacific Islander is in this movie. EVERY ONE OF THEM! I pointed at the screen and said, "Ohhh!!! That Guy!!!" about a hundred times. It was a blast.
"RAPA NUI" gets one and a half headbangs. With the Headbanger Movie Review, I'm Mad Prof. Mike For "Movie Magazine."
© 1994 - Michael Marano - Air Date:
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