What You Need To Know:
(H, L, VVV, SS, NN) Humanism with unflattering portrayal of pagan religion & superstitions, showing their role in causing brutality, exploitation, starvation, pointless toil, warfare, and multiple deaths; 1 mild vulgarity; multiple brief outbursts of violence, especially clubbing & stabbing, cannibalism & man devoured by shark; sexual immorality shown & implied; and, brief but close-up view of nude couple's embrace.
RAPA NUI is a clumsy potboiler about warring tribes on Easter Island (home of the mysterious huge stone faces) in the early 1600s. The filmmakers’ attempt to answer the question of “who built them and why?” is combined with a silly narrative involving the tyrannical Long Ears tribe, the oppressed and overworked Short Ears tribe, a “Romeo & Juliet” love story, and an absurd tribal contest involving the fate of them all. According to the film’s comic-book anthropology (which apparently has not set well with students of Rapa Nui’s history), the two hostile tribes duked it out in the early 1600s (before the Europeans arrived) while a star-crossed couple, Noro and Ramana, tried to bring a little peace. Noro and Ramana are in love but of different tribes. Therefore, in the annual tribal sacred competition, Noro must compete against his best friend for not only Ramana’s, but also her life.
While its on-location visuals are splendid and an extended chase sequence exciting, the film’s dialogue is relentlessly silly, aggravated by an amusing mix of accents. It does show a persistently unflattering portrait of pagan religion and rituals as a nonstop source of brutality, starvation and needless death. However, the possibilities for an exotic cautionary tale are ultimately squandered amidst ongoing nudity, bursts of fierce violence, cannibalism, and an hilariously awful script.