Posted by: ckckred | December 7, 2012

Life of Pi: A Visual Triumph

An epic that proves 3D can be used wisely

An epic that proves 3D can be used wisely

Watching Life of Pi is an experience I rarely have at the movies.  I was moved so emotionally by the characters in the film and gazed at the dazzling images upon the screen.  Life of Pi is a great film that really is a triumph in the forms of story telling and special effects.  It also marks the comeback of one of my favorite directors currently working today, Ang Lee.

Life of Pi is about a boy named Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), who lives in Indian zoo that his family owns.  When the zoo becomes bankrupt, his father decides to move to Canada and sell al the animals there.  The family takes a Japanese transportation ship across the Pacific but an enormous storm sinks the ship. Pi manages to get on a lifeboat but is surprised to find someone else on a boat: a fierce tiger from the zoo that Pi calls “Richard Parker.”

The book of which Life of Pi is based on was called an impossible adaptation to make since a majority of the film takes place out in the ocean with scenes between Pi and Richard.  Films like these haven’t worked very well (Cloud Atlas was another impossible adaptation and both tanked commercially and critically) but Life of Pi succeeds.  Lee allows the audience to enter the scene and be in the shoes of Pi.  The entire movie is really a flashback of the adult Pi (Irrfan Khan), who is telling his story to a writer (Rafe Spall) searching for an idea for a novel.  This device is not in the book but succeeds.  The narrations given by Pi help give context and open scenes in the film.

Life of Pi really carries out between the relationship of Pi and Richard.  Pi had been taught by his father to distrust the animals and in a particular grinding scene shows Pi Richard attacking a goat.  But Pi believes that Richard has emotions, that he is not just an animal.  The film builds the trust between the two and it’s remarkable to watch.  The scenes carry out some comic relief and some very emotional moments.

Ang Lee deserves much credit here.  In my eyes he’s one of the finest filmmakers working right now and his direction is fantastic.  Like Martin Scorsese, Lee uses 3D not as a gimmick but as a real tool.   The movie looks absolutely stunning, and the 3D really helps improve the images.  I read an article in The New York Times explaining how the special effects team created the tiger from muscle to the fur and their hard work pays off.  Richard looks completely real and not for one second did I believe it was a visual but a real tiger.

And I have to praise Sharma as well, not just because it looks like he actually is looking at the tiger but because of the commitment he puts in his performance.  As the movie progresses, Pi loses weight and becomes paler and more tired.  Sharma makes the character Pi become believable.

Overall, Life of Pi is a stunning movie and one of the strongest films thus far this year.  It’s a film I wish Hollywood would make more of and an experience I want to get out of the movies.

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Responses

  1. Nice to see you like it that much. Wasn’t really planning on seeing this, but now that I read a couple of reviews it’s one I can’t seem to miss. Someone told me this was a perfect movie to see with children (they are 10 and 12), do you agree with that?

    • I think it might be a little dark for kids. There are some violent parts in the movie (there’s no blood but it might scare them) but I think they’ll enjoy it, though it’s one that I think adults would like more. It’s also one of the few movies I would recommend to see the 3D version. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Great review. It’s a beautiful-looking flick that’s missing a little something in the writing-department, but after awhile, I stopped caring and just fell in love with the visuals. Definitely one of the best sues of 3D yet.

    • Yeah, the visuals were really beautiful. It’s one of the few movies I would prefer going to the 3D version. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I was completely turned off this by the trailer but after reading more reviews I may have to give it a go, if just to see the visuals. Nice review.

    • It’s worth the price just to see the special effects and one of the few movies where the 3D is worth the admission. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Rarely does a story come together where the storytelling can match such brilliant visuals. The Life of Pi is one of those films. I was emotionally involved and engaged throughout the entire film. Great review!

    • Yeah, the visuals never detracted from the story. I was so involved in the movie and was actually tearing up in the end. Glad you loved it as well. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I need to see this film. 🙂

    What’s your email, mate? I need to send you something.

    • Yeah, it’s great. Have you seen Hugo last year? Ang Lee’s use of 3D is similar to that of Scorsese’s.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. Great review, it really is such a visually stunning film.

    • Thanks! It easily ranks in my top 10 thus far this year.

      • Yeah I think it will be in mine too. Although off the top of my head I think I may struggle to come up with 10, don’t think it’s been a great film year.

      • Yeah, it’s been a weak year. Hopefully when Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained come out it will turn around.


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