Life of Pi (11/25/12)

Life of PiMovie Two Hundred Seventy One

In Life of Pi, a boy must survive on a small life boat with a tiger and discovers a sea of wonders.

A novelist (Rafe Spall) visits an adult Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) to hear a story that will supposedly make a great book and make him believe in God. Young Pi, originally named Piscine Molitor after a French swimming pool, has a strong fascination with all religions. His family owns a zoo but his father decides to sell the animals and take his family to Canada. Now a teenager, Pi (Suraj Sharma), travels on a ship with a full crew, many animals in the cargo area, and his family. During a violent storm, Pi is able to get on a life boat along with a frantic zebra. The zebra breaks its leg in a fall, but the life boat is drifting away while the ship sinks. An orangutan finds its way to the boat and is brought on board, but a hyena makes trouble for two animals. Then the Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker, emerges from beneath a tarp on the boat and Pi must survive the open seas alongside the beast.

If you want to read my Life of Pi preview, you can find that here. I still have not yet read the novel Life of Pi, but seeing the film certainly increased my interest in doing so. Life of Pi is one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve seen and while the plot is low on action, I would struggle faulting it too much. To think that Richard Parker, the tiger, is almost entirely animated is simply staggering. Most of the imagery is fantastical and at times even surreal but that all pales in comparison to how amazingly realistic that tiger looks.

We saw Life of Pi in 3D and it would be hard to recommend seeing it in any other format. The use of 3D is mostly subdued, though at times things do fly at the screen. I don’t think it’s too late to see this in theaters and I strongly urge everyone to try to see it in 3D before it’s too late. It’s weird to think that an existential film about a teenager and a tiger trapped on a small boat would be a special effects powerhouse, but it truly is a wonder and it also happens to be a beautiful story.

If I had to choose a downside to Life of Pi it’s that the ending is far too swift. If you aren’t paying close attention to the dialogue in the final scene you will miss out on what Life of Pi is really about. I’m not sure how closely this mimics the book, but there could have been some floating at sea trimmed to beef up the finale. I’m not sure if you will have your faith in God affirmed by the end of Life of Pi like Pi proclaims, but the story will likely stay with you regardless of your faith.

I give it 5 amazing CGI tigers out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


30 responses to “Life of Pi (11/25/12)

  1. Agree. It’s one of the best films of the year and I think it shows that 3D can be used well with the right director (Hugo’s another good example). Nice review.

  2. Just noticed your tagline, I think you need to pick up the pace a little to hit 300 buddy! 😀

    From my research (which I had to do to see how well the end mirrored the book), the book ends the same way… although obviously as is the case with books, I’m sure its more fleshed out. The end wound up being a thought provoking moment, at a time when I really wanted to feel and not think. 😦 I’m also not sure I like the interjection of ambiguity right then. But its still an awesome flick, still worthy of 5 stars. Great review!

    • I’m up to 286 watched, I’m just slow to getting the writing done 😦

      That’s a good way to put it. In a way, movie audiences should be shown something rather than figuring it out. Without trying to spoil anything, I think they could have used visuals to show the other side of the story rather than just hear it from Pi sitting in a bed.

  3. Great review even if I disagree for once with you. I like the religious overtones and idea embracing life and divesity but just found it too imposing visually. Again 3D for me lessened not augmented the story.

  4. Good review Andy. It’s a very beautiful flick, but when it’s all said and done, the message sort of messes things up in terms of what it’s trying to say. I hear that what they do in the end of this movie, they did in the book and as faithful as that may be to the original source-material, it still doesn’t work when you transition it to the big-screen.

    • I agree – with a book, you can picture what is happening and the flaws to the story are less apparent. When shown everything things start to seem more like plot holes. For example, how did the tiger get underneath the tarp?

  5. Glad you liked this so much. I did too. Although I couldn’t give it a perfect score, it was pretty high up there. I thought the 3D was well done…far better than that of Hugo as mentioned in a previous comment. The film kinda lost a little bit of its appeal/mystery towards the end and ultimately did not make me feel he was in danger, since, at the beginning we see him years later telling the story (he obviously survived). but the adventure was amazing!

  6. Pingback: My November Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  7. Great review, Andy! Reading the book for the second time right now, although I don’t think I’ll be able to finish it before the movie opens here (Friday). Really curious to see Ang Lee’s take on Martel’s novel and those striking visuals!

  8. Pingback: What were your favorite movies of 2012? (Friday Question Fun) | Andy Watches Movies

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