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Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Directed by: Ang Lee

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, and Adil Hussain

Written by: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (novel)

Reviewed by: Scott Anderson

Based on the bestseller of the same name, Life of Pi brings to life the tale of an Indian boy trapped at sea with a hungry Bengal tiger.  This predicament is just the vessel that acclaimed writer Yann Martel uses to dive into the question of faith and hope when it seems that the powers that be have put you up against the wall with seemingly no way out.

When word got out that they would bring this loved book to film many of its’ readers were scratching their heads wondering how on earth you could make this movie from a book so steeped in metaphorical language, I was not one of those for I had not read the book but heard its’ praises from my wife that reads and reads and reads.  There are films that do not make the transition well from book to movie and there were many who thought that this would be a miserable failure and not live up to the book that touched so many lives.  Enter Ang Lee, critically acclaimed film director of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain to bring what seemed to be a daunting task to a theater near you.

The film is narrated by an older Pi telling this unbelievable story to a writer for a possible book and narration is utilized throughout the film.  As Pi begins to tell the story we are at his fathers’ zoo with beautiful shots of its residents and an explanation of why Piscine (Pi) was named so and how he went about creating his own nickname, Pi.  The name caused him many problems through his younger years because Piscine sounds very much like “pissing.”  In the end it is not all that important but I thought it was a great way to show Pi’s resourcefulness and intelligence, two characteristics that will be tested throughout the film. Pi is also a very curious boy went it comes to faith and there are little anecdotes about the many religions Pi follows as a child, this brings about some humorous situations that set the stage for the rest of the film, further developing his character.

Pi’s family has to leave India for Canada and is taking the Zoo with them to relocate.  The family and animals board a ship bound for Canada that enters a storm that will change Pi’s life forever.  He is the lone survivor, well lone human survivor and is on the same life boat as a Tiger, Hyena, and an Orangutan; as you might imagine this foursome is soon a twosome.

Pi and Richard Parker, the tiger, embark on a journey that will pin them against each other in the quest for survival.  So many themes are woven into this film but none more evident than man versus nature as Pi and Richard Parker battle each other for food and living space while dealing with natural enemies beyond their own conflict.

Life of Pi is a visual masterpiece, as one may expect from Lee, I have read that the 3D was top notch and a perfect blend of immersion and beauty but unfortunately I did not see it in 3D, I saw this film in 2D.  Many compared it to Avatar in its’ use of 3D technology and I am sorry that I did not see it that way but I was impressed anyhow.  One of the main characters, Richard Parker, is done with computer graphics but the realism is uncanny and when I saw it I thought it was a “real” tiger.  Only after reading about the film did I understand that to be the case, some complained that you could tell when it went form true shots to CGI but I was not one of those people.  Maybe it was better for that reason in 2D but either way it is not a deal breaker.  Ang Lee uses so many different camera angles and shots, mixing reality and fantasy seamlessly throughout the whole film that that alone is worth the price of admission.  This film should be celebrated as a visual masterpiece.

Life of Pi is a story of survival, faith and perception and at the stories end you may ask yourself a question but to get hung up on the correct answer is to miss the point of the story.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ckckred January 28, 2013, 7:30 am

    Nice review. I really loved this film and it was one of my favorite films of last year.

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 7:38 am

      I would have made my top ten if I had seen it prior to making that list, such is the way of the list.

  • mummbles January 28, 2013, 7:40 am

    Sort of skimmed the review because I still have yet to see it. Out of all the big movies this year this is the one movie that no one I know has seen for some reason. I have been trying to see it.

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 7:42 am

      I put it off and it just seemed so many other movies were released at the same time, was on the back burner for me until there was a break in releases.

  • Adam January 28, 2013, 9:55 am

    hmmm, looks like this is one that I will need to check out. Nice write up Scotty

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 9:59 am

      Thank you, I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did.

  • wordschat January 28, 2013, 10:04 am

    Nice touch on the twitter subject haha. I liked the examination of practicing aspects of several faiths. The resourceful Pi made for a complex well rounded character. I saw it first in 3D then a week later in 2D. The 2D was a more enriching experience as the story not the technology came through more clearly. Heck I admit it I dislike the distraction of mist 3d.

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 10:10 am

      Thank you wordschat, i thought it may draw a little more attention or none at all either way Adam retweeted the normal twitter link.

      I had a feeling there would be soemthing better about the 2D than 3D but I did still wish I caught it in its’ intended form.

  • Chris January 28, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Nice review! And totally with you on the CGI tiger. I didn’t realize it was CGI going in, and at no point questioned whether it was real or not. I only found out afterwards that it wasn’t and was completely blown away. The effects are ridiculous in this movie!

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 1:45 pm

      It was really well done, the CGI that is, along with the film. Normally you question it throughout but like you said unless you were looking for it, it did not exist, imo.

  • ruth January 28, 2013, 1:34 pm

    Great review! I’d agree that visually this is a masterpiece. I was amazed how well the interaction between Pi and Richard Parker was and that tiger was never in an actual scene together w/ the actor.

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 1:48 pm

      Thank you Ruth, must have been tough on Suraj acting with nothing to play off of, he did a good job also but it was overshadowed by the cinematography imo.

  • Tracy January 28, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Nice job Scotty. Did your wife see it? If so, how did she think it compared to the book? I haven’t read it, nor have I seen the film….I’m just curious.

    • scottydynamite January 28, 2013, 2:47 pm

      She did see it and thought they did a great job sticking to the book. She also liked the movie and thought it was well done.

  • Griff January 28, 2013, 4:52 pm

    I have to admit that this looks like the type of movie that would make me want to punch myself in the face. Great review though Scotty!

    • scottydynamite January 29, 2013, 7:14 am

      So often when I am watching movies I think to myself, wow “if Mark were watching this he would break shit.” I do not think you would hate this one but you would punch anyone close to you if you had to watch Les Mis. I cannot wait to write that one up.

  • Lights Camera Reaction January 30, 2013, 2:18 pm

    My favourite film of 2012! I’m rooting for it this award season (Although I want Adele to win Best Original Song instead of Pi).

  • scottydynamite January 30, 2013, 5:28 pm

    Lights,
    I think it will win for Best Cinematography hands down, Best Picture it is out of the question with competition like Argo and ZDT. I really think Argo wins best picture even though it was not my favorite film of the year, it was a great film. Thanks for the comment.

  • Thomas February 7, 2013, 5:12 pm

    of course visually very impressive in parts, what I found more interesting even was that they managed to raise interest for this in the first place – after all, the book’s success is not a recent one, the story is rather simple (boy on boat, crash, sits on smaller boat for awhile), and Ang Lee has not quite managed to show that he can pull of big productions in the past. But they managed, and it looks fabulous. The any thing “deep” maybe be the water around the makeshift lifeboat, but it still makes for an entertaining night at the movies (3D or 2D does not make a difference really, the film looks excellent and has great depth in 2D too). My take after watching it:
    http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/life-of-pi-ang-lee-2012/.

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