Big Screen :: Life Of Pi

January 28th 2013

I have been fascinated but kind of baffled by Life of Pi ever since I first read the premise. What we have here is a 100-million-dollar special effects extravaganza in 3D about a teenaged boy trapped on a life boat for weeks with a ferocious tiger named Richard Parker. The ads make it look like some sort of family friendly feel good nightmare horror movie full of technicolour whales and Coldplay songs. And you know what, other than the Coldplay that’s actually pretty accurate. What a seriously wonderful thing to make a movie about.

Pi gets trapped on the lifeboat after a ship transporting animals from his family zoo sinks on its way to Canada. But before that happens we have a setup that is probably a touch overlong, during which we learn about Pi and his multiple religions and philosophies, all of which will be tested. If anyone could make this movie it’s Ang Lee, who can fearlessly shift between a giant comic book movie to an erotic Chinese spy movie, to Gay Cowboys, to a martial arts epic without a second thought. He has done an amazing job in simply figuring out how to make Yann Martel’s book work as a movie, and it really does. His international cast are great too, led by Suraj Sharma who had never acted before Lee cast him as Pi.

The movie is obsessed with religion and spirituality and god in an interesting way that nevertheless didn’t really grab me, though that probably speaks more about me than the movie. Nevertheless it’s telling that I was so absorbed in a movie whose key theme held little appeal, and whose third act takes an amazing and bizarre left turn that, after giving it some serious thought, I still have no explanation for.

The 3D and incredible special effects make for an amazing visual experience, and I loved getting completely lost in it. But it’s also move than just pretty pictures, and I was surprised to find myself quite moved by the resolution. Also, it’s rare to see a movie this deep and spiritual that also features a tiger explosively pissing right down the camera lens. I was so shocked that I impulsively took off my 3D glasses to dry them. I bet James Cameron saw that, nodded solemnly and realised that the bar had been raised. Your move, Cameron. Anyway, I strongly recommend Life Of Pi. Check it out.




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