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The most imaginative film this year
jdesando21 November 2012
''I had to tame him,'' (Pi) realizes. ''It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat." From Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

You will see no more imaginative film this year than Life of Pi, whose conceit of a young Indian boy stranded with a Bengal Tiger in a lifeboat amid the Pacific Ocean is fantastical yet real in its metaphoric implications. While the framing device of a story told to a stranger uses the old flashback, the lonely lifeboat is as new as any story told in the last century.

The film begs interpretation from the multiplicity of religions to the place of mankind in a hostile, Darwinian world. Ultimately the benign brotherhood of beasts and humans is affirmed not so much by lofty philosophy but by the necessity of man and beast working together to survive.

The digital rendering of animals, especially the Bengal Tiger, is beautiful to behold. The opening scene in Pi's family zoo could be right out of Terence Malick's visionary camera, a montage of nature gorgeous in its simplicity. The several formalistic shots of the boat at night are worthy of the best lighting in the best aquariums in the world. Together with the impressive use of 3D, director Ang Lee has visually taken us from the opulence of Crouching Tiger and the minimalism of Brokeback Mountain into a fusion world of fancy and reality. The images are stunning.

In the end, Lee is interested in the individual's place in the universe as he struggles to harness nature and yet live in harmony with these elements. The conflict with the gross cook aboard the Japanese cargo ship taking Pi's family and animals to Canada is emblematic of the challenges facing the gifted with the groundlings. Pi's relationship with tiger "Richard Parker" represents all mankind's struggle to live in harmony with the forces it cannot control.

"Believing in everything is the same as believing in nothing," says Pi's father because Pi samples religions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Catholicism and Judaism and wants them all. Although it is not given to us to have them all, Pi's piety practically makes us believers in the universal brotherhood.

The Life of Pi is everyone's life; the film is one of the best of the year and, even remembering the greatness of The Old Man and the Sea, Moby Dick, and Billy Budd, the best you will ever see about a boy, a tiger, and a boat.
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jeffry-ziccarelli2 October 2012
Saw this the other night at the NYFF. Wow. It's an incredible film, a true cinematic achievement, possibly a classic and maybe will be the first 3D movie to break through and win the Best Picture Oscar. Some of the images were so beautiful that the audience gasped at many of them. I felt transported and like I was seeing a movie for the very first time. I haven't felt that sort of magic in a movie theater in a long, long time.

I read the book and liked it and the film may even improve upon it which is kind of a miracle considering it's kids, animals and water just about all the time. The spiritual themes are simple and deep and raise more questions about faith and belief than answer anything. No preaching going on here and there could be. Without giving anything away, it's a wonderful story about storytelling and how telling our stories can get us through the most horrible life experiences and to help deal with the aftermath of them.

It's an incredible film experience. Go see it!
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Powerful storytelling and splendid performances presented in a brilliant 3D
Davor_Blazevic_19593 January 2013
With his latest movie, "Life of Pi", Ang Lee further establishes himself as one of the greatest contemporary movie directors. Starting from his Taiwanese beginnings, and his highly enjoyable, family-harmonizing "Father Knows Best" trilogy (1992-1994), through his Academy Award winning works on gracefully choreographed, highly spiritualized Far East martial arts tour de force "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000, best foreign-language film) and on an uncommon yet nostalgic portrayal of the Old West in "Brokeback Mountain" (2005, best director), to his other titles like "Sense and Sensibility" (1995), "The Ice Storm" (1997), and "Lust, Caution" (2007), quality and Kubrick-like versatility shown in his movies offer continuous attraction for wide audience of his admirers.

Lee's latest and, so far, easily, greatest movie, "Life of Pi" is based on a screenplay adapted from the acclaimed fictional adventure novel written by Canadian author Yann Martel.

Throughout his childhood, due to matching pronunciation of French word "piscine" (pool, swimming pool) and English word "pissing", Piscine Molitor Patel, named that way after later abandoned Parisian swimming pool, so predictably suffers from being nicknamed "Pissing Patel". In order to avoid it, once in high school he finally shortens his name to Pi Patel... Nowadays middle-aged Pi tells the story of his life to a visiting writer, apparently a book author Yan Martel's alter ego, who is seeking for the literal inspiration. Retrospectively, Pi divides his childhood and adolescence into three segments. In the first segment he gives shorter account of his life until the age of 16, describing his interaction with his family and schoolmates, in particular his relationship with his father and a girlfriend, concentrating on his exploits of God and spirituality, meandering between multitude of religious practices… while in the last one he briefs about his testimonial given to officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport, investigating the reasons why the ship his family was relocating on from India to Canada sank. Most detailed, and therefore the longest, is recollection of his 227 days in a lifeboat, an extraordinary ordeal he went through after the ship has capsized and everybody else, crew and passengers, died…

…Well, everybody human, but not everybody living. Namely, a number of terrestrial animals from their discontinued family zoo, offered for sale and brought along with other family belongings, have survived, too. But, not for long, because, while confined in the most limited space as they were, surrounded by vastness of the ocean, the law of the "survival of the fittest" prevails, takes its tall, and pretty soon Pi finds himself in a company of a single one topping the food-chain, a Bengal tiger curiously named Richard Parker.

Not to reveal the story further, it is with greatest pleasure to inform that cinematic excellence has been achieved in several categories: in an engaging tale—whether allegory or depiction of realistic, believable events, filled with protagonist's rarely matched curiosity, imagination and his often reasonably unanswered doubts, encouraging the same in viewers—of an uncommon character, indeed, brought to on-screen life by outstanding performances from two contributing leads, remarkably presented via ubiquitous, yet inconspicuous animation, exceptional, CGI aided visuals and superb usage of 3D photography, all along complemented with an uplifting score. All these assets work seamlessly together in unfolding an intense relationship between Pi and Richard Parker, complex yet basic, difficult yet simple, initially charged with Pi's dreadful fear, swiftly shifting to respectful care, instantly boosting his never overbearing confidence and relentlessly improving his survival skills. Wholesome artistic experience reaches and maintains its pinnacle particularly in clever tactics and constructive survival techniques 16-year old Pi uses—amply benefiting from his instructive lifestyle of a zoo owner's attentive son, certainly well acquainted with animal psychology—to suppress the fear and convincingly impose himself as an equal to the one of the most elaborate "killing machines" among mammals, desperately striving for his own survival, nevertheless, generously, for survival of his seemingly sufficiently tamed companion, but still, initially and ultimately, magnificent adversary, Richard Parker, as well.

"Life of Pi" is, certainly, one of the most impressive movies of 2012, year that has just come to a close.
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Probably the Most Complete Film of the Year
damh_frikinlater21 November 2012
The movie narrates an incredible story using the most beautiful special effects and great actors.

It is more that a survival story and it is not about friendship. This story is about faith. Director Ang Lee use all the tools he have to make this movie about a solitary young man not a boring one. It is narrated by both, young Pi and the Adult Pi, it uses music all the time so there is not space for uncomfortable silents and the rhythm of the scenes is fast. The result a very entertained film.

The most important thing of this film is it character. It is obvious because we are seeing for almost 2 hours just one character. So it is not only important to have a great character that appeals to the audience feelings, but to have an actor that portray this person the right way. Suraj Sharma was brilliant as Pi. He can make happy scenes as equal as sad, desperate, hopelessness, exhaustion and anger ones. Very few movies allow an actor represent so many emotions.

But if Pi is a good character, Richard Parker can only be describe as unique. The tiger as personality of it's own. Not many films can make an animal with so many human features and yet never stop being a wild animal. This tiger is computed animated but the audience will barely notice, because the way it walks, eats, its factions, the eyes. It doesn't matter if it is computer animation, Richard Parker is alive and is his own character just as important as Pi is.

If you think that "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" have good animal effects, you have to see how this people make a zebra, a hyena and a orangutan. All this, combine with a photography created by the same guy that make "Tron: Legacy" looks so cool and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" so beautiful, Claudio Miranda, makes it an incredible experience to see.

This movie is definitely an Oscar runner for Special Effects, Cinematography, Director and Movie of the year.
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"This is a picture of sheer power and beauty"
StevePulaski22 November 2012
Life of Pi is one of the most marvelous theater experiences I've had all year. Its Oscar for art direction and cinematography should already be locked in. It's a film of incorruptible beauty and deeply satisfying drama which squeezes so much power and emotion out of its audience that they leave feeling riveted at the same time drained. You can bet the film's main character feels the exact same way.

Our main character is an adult named Piscine Molitor, who goes by the name "Pi Patel," and we meet him as an adult (played by Irrfan Khan) who begins telling his long life-story to a writer planning to adapt it (Rafe Spall). It's a story that tested him as a person in every possible way, and it all goes back to when his parents made the decision to move from India to Canada, and because Pi's father was a zookeeper, take many animals such as orangutans, zebras, goats, and tigers with them on an enormous ship across the Pacific Ocean. Before this move, Pi was an optimistic soul, who ventured out as a young boy beyond his comfort zone in his Hindu religion to seek out other walks of faith, specifically Christianity and Islam, which he began following all at once.

During the move, a wild, violent storm hits the ocean, flooding the ship and sending Pi, a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena, an orangutan, and a tiger named "Richard Parker" on a lifeboat, leaving behind the several other animals and Pi's entirely family. This whole sequence, which lasts around five minutes, feels like the entire movie The Perfect Storm shortened from its original two-hour length, only it emphasizes the emotional elements. This is one of the saddest scenes of the year, as we see a teenage Pi (now played by Suraj Sharma) desperately hold onto the lifeboat for dear-life, while being washed away from his mother, father, and siblings and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. Between you and I, reader, this is one of the most emotionally upsetting scenes (this and the ending of the film) I've ever sat through in a theater.

Now, Pi is stranded in the middle of the Pacific, with an open sky, four different animals, until they are picked off with only the tiger remaining, and his own will to live. The remainder of the film forgoes the back-and-forth narrative between adult Pi telling the story to the writer, but remains focused on his own recollection of events on that lifeboat and the acts of bravery he committed to keep him and the tiger alive. While Pi and Richard Parker are sharing the boat, that does not mean they get along. Writer David Magee makes no mistake in illustrating that while they are stranded together, Pi is a human boy and Richard Parker is a Bengal tiger. The beauty of this picture is that it never mistakes that the only common traits between these two souls is that they are stranded together and both are mammals.

Life of Pi's visuals are astounding. Long shots that hold on the vast emptiness of the Pacific are invigorating because of their wide range of beauty and clarity, sequences of peril and uncertainty are captured through an equally clear, vivid lens, making them all the more real and enthralling, and atmospherically, the picture shows the dangers and the loneliness of the ocean better than any film I have yet to see.

Thematically, the picture focuses on predominately on the idea of survival and spirituality, which gratefully helps Pi keep hope and optimism during these gruelingly unforgiving days. One of the most intense and poignant scenes comes when Pi is faced with the task of killing a large fish. He is starving, and becoming skinnier by the day, so he fiercely grabs a fish out of the water and begins hacking at it with a small axe. When the fish is bloody and long dead, he begins to sob tears of joy and sadness; joy because he finally has a decent portion of food, yet sadness in the idea that he has killed a living creature and is about to abandon his vegetarian vow. It's a scene that, once more, clouded my eyes with tears, just like Pi's, of joy and sadness.

This is a picture of sheer power and beauty. A film that clearly tests its lead actor, Sharma, who is inhabiting his first main role, and a film that will hopefully go on to live with a reputation of one of cinema's supreme achievements. It must be said that in Ang Lee's twenty year film career that he has tackled almost every genre in the medium and done so with an extraordinary amount of confidence. His directorial efforts too have not been minor additions to the genre, but true game-changers if anything. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a martial arts film filled with depth and delight. Hulk was a superhero movie that added so much weight to its characters and relationships, you'd think Christopher Nolan's modern-day Dark Knight franchise was taking notes from it. And Brokeback Mountain was, for the most part, a lively portrayal of two men who've kept their orientation silent for so long that they begin to embrace it by meeting each other out of the blue. Life of Pi offers more of the same grandiose ideas from the brilliant visionaire and its shocking smoothness in terms of filming, placement, and writing is beyond fabulous and wildly consuming because of its clarity. This is one of the best films of the year, and on-par with the depth and cinematography in Samsara, making this year one of the most beautiful.
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A visually opulent triumph of film-making!
cnitinb22 November 2012
Ang lee's life of pi is an adaptation of a 'Man booker prize winner' novel by the same name, written by Yann Martel. It's a story set in the late seventies of an Indian teenager (Pi Patel) who is stranded on a life boat in the pacific. What distinguishes this tale of survival from the rest is that the author dishes out a delicious slice of creativity in giving the castaway, a tiger for a companion. Yes, like the posters and trailers have you believe, there is a boat on which a man and a tiger have to live! This makes 'life of pi' not only a story of human struggle against nature but also a profound tale that questions 'what separates man from beast?'. More interestingly, 'when does man become a beast'?

But worry not, Ang Lee's movie does not force you think on these lines , instead it's a film that lets you enjoy it on so many levels. If you are just looking for a beautiful 3D movie to feast your eyes , Life of pi can be it. If you are in a mood for a thrilling adventure epic on weekend, this is the right ticket. If indeed, you want to experience something thoughtful, Life of pi never forces you on a particular thought, instead it whispers ever so slightly to think about matters of human disposition and finding comfort in convention while caressing your senses with fabulous visuals and background score.

Suraj Sharma debuts as pi with utter sincerity while Irfan Khan(as adult pi) and Tabu(as mother) do justice to their parts. The rest of the supporting cast blend in perfectly too. Ang lee helms the film with difficult source material with absolute grace and expertise. However there are two true heroes that make Life of Pi work. Firstly the studio and creative director behind the magnificent CGI. The Bengal tiger is perhaps the best animated animal ever created! The angry green eyes, richly textured orange –white striped skin and every hair on its fur look rich and full of life in 3D.And then when your hear the thunderous roar for the first time, you will realize this is as real as it can get! The rest of the animals (a Zebra, an orangutan) look great too. The lovely blue ocean and its resident creatures are the jewel in the crown. The other hero is the writer David Magee(screenplay) who adapts the novel with near perfection. One gripe the fans of the novel might have is the lack of all the gore descriptions and a particular chapter that deals with the surviving 'French cook'. The addition of these might have pleased the audience who sought for the philosophical undertones from the story but the film would have lost out on the large PG-13 crowd (a fair deal considering the enormous budget).

Life of Pi, is a rare masterpiece that stands as a prototype not only for a perfect book adaptation and a 3D movie( sorry avatar, you have just been replaced), but also for a movie based on intricacies of human nature . Now that is simply an impressive triumph of film-making!
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A glorious film.
Sleepin_Dragon7 August 2021
It's a shame that I didn't see this at the cinema, I can only imagine what a treat for the senses this was on the big screen. A visual masterpiece, and an intoxicating story of belief and friendship.

You must give so much credit to the team that produced this, not a book I would have thought easy to adapt, as it is so vague, the realisation is of course breathtaking, I absolutely loved it.

I've read comments about those that wanted action and dramatic scenes, this film isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.

Breathtaking, 9/10.
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Breathtaking cinema
Leofwine_draca11 May 2014
When I heard that the film adaptation of LIFE OF PI was being released, I made sure to go and read the novel beforehand so I could compare it to the movie. I'm not a huge fan of Ang Lee and his overrated CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this. But I needn't have worried; this is a great movie, a film that fully explores the splendour of cinema and on-screen storytelling, and a film that's better than the book.

The early and, quite frankly, boring parts of the novel are summarised well so that the storytelling is always on the move. The focus is on the survival narrative, which is as it should be, and the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker is brought to vivid and moving life. Sure, there are the occasional mis-steps along the way, like an ill-advised and tacked-on romance, but for the most part they get it right. The CGI is wondrous, especially the animals and an eye-popping shipwreck, and the story is moving, tender in places and full of heart. I'm not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes in parts, and it's all down to Richard Parker, who must go down as one of the great animal characters in cinema. A great example of filming the unfilmable.
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Very impressed
noah_eye13 November 2012
I was lucky enough to see Pi in full 3D Imax at a pre-viewing in San Diego last night, and as a huge fan of the book, I was intensely satisfied.

Believe it or not, I was more impressed with the the casting choices and performances of the players than by the effects. Granted, the movie was very beautiful, but in the end, Life Of Pi was more character driven than anything. Suraj Sharma as the young Pi was charming, funny, and incredibly engaging, while Irrfan Khan as the older Pi was fantastically genuine and warm. Adil Hussain as Pi's father was also a joy to watch. The characters are so rich and full of life that you really can't help but fall in love with them. I would also like to add, as someone who spends time with tigers on a daily basis, the animators did a wonderful and accurate job of bringing Richard Parker to life and making him the active and vital character that is so incredibly essential to the success of this story.

I would recommend seeing Pi in 3D, but I don't think that's it's essential to your viewing enjoyment. The 3D just takes a beautiful film and makes it a little bit nicer. Also, if you've read the book and are concerned that the story you loved may have been compromised in anyway, worry no longer. This is easily, one of the best book to film adaptations I have ever seen.

Happy viewing folks. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did. I'll be seeing it again in theaters very soon.
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One of the Most Beautiful Films You're Going to See
Michael_Elliott26 November 2012
Life of Pi (2012)

**** (out of 4)

Ang Lee's incredible tale of Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), a teenage Indian boy who survives a ship sinking that kills everyone on board except for himself and a tiger. Soon the two are on board a lifeboat not knowing what their future holds. I had never heard of the novel that this film is based on and I had absolutely no idea what the film was about until about five months prior I saw a promotional piece while waiting to watch another movie. I actually went back to work joking about the picture because I couldn't believe anyone would try and make a movie about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat but the joke is on me because Lee has created one of the more memorable, magical and uplifting films of the year. I was really shocked to see how tremendous the picture was but what makes it so special would have me giving away countless spoilers, which is something I'm certainly not going to do. I think it would be best for viewers to go into the picture knowing as little as possible but I can say that Lee has created one of the most beautiful pictures you're likely to see. The beautiful images are just so remarkable to look at that it's impossible not to get caught up in the scenery. Be it the early stuff in India or the breathtaking moments at sea, everything in this picture just lights up the screen. I'm really not a fan of CGI unless it's used properly. Too many times I think it's just used to be lazy and save money but that's not the case here as Lee perfectly mixes in the CGI with the live action stuff. The two coming together are practically flawless and that certainly helps bring one closer to the story and characters. Sharma does a terrific job and especially when you consider he'd never acted before and was basically having to carry the entire film. I was a little mixed on the 3D effects. While some where brilliant, for the most part I think the film would be viewed just fine in 2D as it would give one better colors. Still, no matter which version you see, the heart of the picture is in its soul, its character and the lessons he learns while being stuck out at sea for over two hundred days. LIFE OF PI is a really remarkable film that has so much going for it that it's clearly one of the year's best.
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Great movie, but a great director!
chaudharyabhijit15 November 2012
Few movies will leave a lasting impression on you..Life of Pi is one of those. Not even a single moment is dull, in fact the story is woven so tightly that you never realize that the script is so simple. It is beautifully directed and kudos to Ang Lee, not only was he able to capture the beauty of India, he was also able to get the best of the actors. Though it does not rank too high on 3D, its just visually mesmerizing. My trust and faith in Ang Lee has gone up to the highest level after watching this movie..Luckily I was able to catch the premiere show and will continue to relish the after effects of the movie for the next few days!
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Life Of Pi = Best (Art + Story Telling + VFX)
mithil29322 November 2012
According to mythology the journey of life is splayed with different forms of hurdles, the path to salvation lies in standing tall against such hurdles even if the Gods are callous to your understanding. By maintaining hope we try to live up to their expectation, knowing that God will guide us if we keep fighting on our endeavor for greater good. That's pretty much the whole and soul of the movie. Opened first time in India at IFFI 2012 Goa, I was in the mix of lucky few who got to watch the repeat show of this 3D movie adapted from Yann Martel's book of same title.

Piscine Molitor(Pi) Patel as he was named after a swimming pool by his dear uncle apparent by his ardent love for the same. Piscine is born Hindu in Pondicherry India, but as he levels a understanding he begins to peek into other religion and sooner he starts endorsing Christianity and Islam also. His father, a zoo owner pounces upon a chance of relocating the zoo to Canada. On their way to far west with animals on a Japanese ship, tragedy struck on a murderous stormy night capsizing the ship with Pi and a Royal Bengal Tiger left to see the remains. And so the adventures journey of innocent young boy with life threatening feline animal begins.

There was the thunderous applause from the audiences when the tiger gives his first appearance in the safety boat. Spending months to produce the Tiger didn't go waste too, he looked inch perfect and the way he has been handled in the movie is exquisite. The first few scenes are reminiscent of old India with bullock carts, later the landscape changes and so do the people. The characters of hot blooded modern day father, the supporting mother and the story involving the tender love between the protagonist and the girl are delightful however short they may be. The innocence of young Pi through his school years and his introduction to motley of faiths sets up the foundation to his uncanny characterization. But the real fun starts when they are both lost at sea and Pi tries assortment of ideas to keep him as well as the Tiger alive. The movie is never complete without the mention of adequately yet delicately used VFX. It would really be a shame to put into words those magnificently shot sequences and the scale on which the art work is done. This movie epitomizes the correct com-mixture of story with special effects. I could gather so many 'wows' while I was myself devouring on the same scenes. The humor is well prevalent and does lighten up the few still scenes between the two.

Suraj Sharma plays the most significant role in the movie with all his efforts and he wins it in the end. The guy is awesome handling some tough intense scenes in the movie. Irfan Khan playing the narrator as well as the older Pi shows his maturity in the business, patient with the small parts he never misses his character and his narration and dialog's delivery is to die for. Adil Hussain as Pi's father is superb with his character and does contribute a hell lot. Other actors contribute evenly including the computer generated zoo animals. Real salute to the art directors of the movie for putting up such beautiful pictures on screen. Ang Lee is as always incomparable with his cinema, he has definitely reached shore with this movie and a more versatile director in my book.

The older promises the character he is narrating that he will prove him that God exists, well did he or not? For that you have to wait for that amazing climax scene. This is art, storytelling and VFX at his best in a single movie. Who would want to miss that??
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What's one more review?!
planktonrules11 April 2013
By the time I got to see this film, the Oscars were long past and there already were a ton of reviews for "Life of Pi". On top of that, I have noticed that for big pictures which most everyone likes, I rarely have much to say. After all, I agree with the majority--"Life of Pi" is a very good film. So, my review will be brief.

THE reason to watch this film is pretty simple: You cannot say that the movie reminds you of anything you've ever seen before or since. Sure, you could try comparing "Life of Pi" to "Avatar"--but that is only because they both used gobs of CGI to create fantastic stories. But the story itself, is so original. In addition, the acting, direction and artistry of the movie is tops. While I would agree with the Oscar folks that "Argo" was a better film, it wasn't by much. Well worth your time.
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Life of Pi is a visual spectacle, Irrfan Kahn's best
ClaytonDavis28 September 2012
There are a lot of positive and admirable things about Ang Lee's latest Life of Pi. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda captures the most uproarious and glorious shots captured this year thus far. The 3D effects are some of the best ever seen and feels absolutely necessary in a film so heavy handed with religious tones. What Mychael Danna achieves in Lee's film has just placed him in the forefront of great film composers working today. He continues to impress with his musical range, envelopes the film's message and thematic narrative in somber and beautiful melodic notes. On Visual Effects alone, Life of Pi will likely land a nomination for Best Picture. What Lee invents with the ocean and the integration of the tiger and the other animals is spectacular. He allows the mood of the film and the imagery to marry each other in a ceremonial experience that stands next to Sci-Fi epics like Avatar (2009) and Hugo (2011).

Newcomer Suraj Sharma puts a valiant effort in the role of "Pi," a performance that may land him more critical and impressive roles in the future. The work is reminiscent of great breakthrough performers like Rudy Youngblood (Apocalypto, 2006) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008); both were impressive turns but sadly will not catch any awards attention. Irrfan Kahn, who has delivered in great supporting turns like The Namesake (2006) and A Mighty Heart (2007), could have his best chance ever for serious awards attention. His hurdle will be a minimal screen presence and a supporting actor race that's crowded with "movie stars."

Lee directs the film with a firm hand. He knows what he wants to say and for the most part gets his message across. Unfortunately an unfocused and at times jumbled screenplay by the great David Magee creates an atmosphere that relies more on the visuals then the narrative. Also, I'm unfamiliar with the book by Yann Martel, never read it before, so I have nothing to compare it to but much of the story's elements of surprise feel rather cheap and ill-fitting. Not sure how it will play with others but the film remains pretty consistent on the entertainment sector.

Lee explains his preparation for the film at the New York Film Festival with such passion and delight. He speaks about getting Sharma properly prepared by placing him on a boat in the middle of the ocean and meeting a real life shipwreck survivor; Lee's love for the project comes through, all four years in the making. It's a directorial achievement that the Director's branch of the Academy could easily get behind.

The film lands solidly on the front door of awards season with ease and could rally a loyal legion of followers. Look out for the National Board of Review to kick it off…I can almost put money on it.

Read more reviews @ The Awards Circuit (
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An empty candy wrapper
Meven_Stoffat1 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Let's be honest here: Life of Pi is a pretty looking movie with a rather dismal plot, and a pretentious religious subtext thrown in there for good measure.

Life of Pi might not be a bad movie. Realistically it would get maybe a 4 or 5 out of 10, but seeing as there's so many positive reviews here and all of them seem to be from either fanboys of the book, or people who haven't seen very many movies at all, I figured a 1 would be best to balance things out.

No doubt the film has some humorous moments that are indeed very funny, like the tiger peeing in Pi's face, Pi's "rules", and what not, and the film has tons of pretty visuals. A lot of the film takes place on a boat, and at times it looks like they used a real ocean to film it on. Not to mention the jellyfish scene was pretty, it was almost like James Cameron's Avatar.

But... the plot is just so vapid and pretentious, it defies description. Basically, the film throws around a lot of religious references, and it takes up a good portion of the plot, but dear LORD most of the time, the religious references were as subtle as bricks in a drying machine. At times it's like the writers are smacking you across the face with a bible. And when he father asked Pi (as a child) early in the film "how many more religions are you going to convert to?" (or something like that), I should have taken that as an indication as how the rest of the movie would be.

Oh and the many random moments which included (but weren't limited to): the strange 2:35.1 Aspect ratio change where suddenly a bunch of fish start flying out of the water into the boat (including WINGED fish that seemed like a Michael Bay wet dream), a carnivorous island full of meerkats (though to be fair, the meerkats scene was like a cuteness overdose), and humpback whale bit. Yeah.

There were parts of the film I enjoyed, but it honestly was just not a very good movie. It was like eating a platter full of candy and sugary sweets. Lots to indulge in and munch down on, but you've devoured nothing of substance by the end, and you're left with a stomach ache. And throwing a religious subtext in it doesn't mean the film is good or anything... It's just pretentious.

So yeah, like I said. Realistically my rating would be a 4 or 5 out of 10, but the 8.4 rating and amounts of 10/10 reviews here is just ridiculous.
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Life of Pi
cultfilmfan25 November 2012
I remember when the novel Life of Pi came out and how popular it was. I have never read the book, but have read Beatrice and Virgil, which is also by Pi author Yann Martel and was very impressed with it. The movie version of Life of Pi, was nothing short of amazing. This is a film where everything seems to be done right. As readers of my reviews know, I am not a fan of 3D, or basically even in seeing films in 3D, but to me, Life of Pi was different. The 3D was not used in a self indulgent way to showcase today's technology, or to brag about it later on like so much of Peter Jackson's later films have been. Instead the 3D in this film is done to further enhance emotions and to affect us while watching certain scenes. We often see scenes of absolute beauty and some that are frightening, or perhaps ugly, but the 3D here is put to good use and is not done in an overly flashy way. The story itself I found to be incredibly moving and also inspiring. I do not want to go into too many details about the plot, so I do not spoil it for other viewers, but this is at times a deeply spiritual film that most viewers should walk away with feeling moved and grasping things that they might not have before. That is unless they are totally hard of heart. Through the journey of the main character, Pi, he learns so many important life lessons and things he can use later on in life. The film shows that while he does go through some very difficult and challenging times, that he does not quit, or give up and has the willpower and the faith to persevere even if at times everything looks absolutely hopeless. By relying not only on himself, but a higher power he is giving this endurance and strength to keep going and even during the most agonizing and stressful of times, he still has that perseverance and does not give up. It shows us that through life's trials often something very good comes out of it. In life none of us like going through challenging, or difficult times, but I think all of us can say that through difficult situations that we have gone through that we have learned more about ourselves and have become better equipped for future situations as well. Trials often bring us closer to the things that are actually important and crucial to our lives, but on the same thought, I realize that others do not always respond to them as well and lean to things that could be detrimental to one's health such as drugs, alcohol, or sex, but what if we relied on a higher power like Pi does in the film? Being a Christian myself I know all about that. Through my life I have gone through numerous trails in my life and I know that there will be more coming, but through all of those trials, I have been able to rely on God, and while often in those situations I felt anxious, or like giving up myself, I learned that he was with me through those trials and he was not going to abandon me. Every rough, or difficult situation in life I have gotten through. No, going through it was not always easy, or fun, but at the end my relationship with God improved and it often allowed me to trust and rely on Him more. Often these trials seem to be pointing out something in our lives that we need to change about ourselves. It could be something like an addiction, or some type of sin that while it may not seem so, is actually harming us rather than bringing us joy, or pleasure and do we really need those things in our life? What if we could live doing what is good for us and to keep our bodies healthy. Wouldn't that make us both happier, healthier and more appreciative that we gave up our old ways of sin, addiction and the things that caused us to stumble. Pi grows in this film as he goes through these trials. They mature him, give him a stronger and more trusting relationship and understanding of God and helps prepare and shape him for what may come in days, weeks, or even years ahead. This was such a revelation to me seeing all this on screen. I knew all this beforehand, but who doesn't need a reminder from time to time and a little encouragement never fails to help. What was often called an unfilmable book has turned into a motion picture experience that is something that I found beautiful for the eyes, ears, senses and my soul. I felt uplifted and encouraged as I left this film. It gave me so much to think about, but also so much to be thankful for in my own life. Director Ang Lee and screenwriter David Magee have given us a beautiful film here that works as a technical achievement, but on so many other levels as well. I hope that what I have said will not have turned off people from seeing it, but rather given them a curiosity to go and see it for themselves and see what they discover, or take away from it. This is a groundbreaking achievement in cinema and for our own selves as well. Be sure to see it on the big screen while you can. One of 2012's best films.
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Absolutely Jaw-Dropping
Zachary_Butler21 November 2012
Just finished watching the Midnight Premiere. Did not disappoint one bit. The Acting is incredibly believable, and the ending ties it all together. The story sorta drags in the beginning, but Ang Lee did a good job keeping my attention to the film. The Animation is incredibly realistic. I couldn't tell the difference between what was real and what wasn't. Not one moment did I doze off. Definitely worth 127 minutes of your life. Ang Lee, you did an outstanding job. To the Cast, you all did excellent. I am very satisfied! Although there were a lot of pros, there were some cons. At one point the Format of the Film switched from 16:9 to 4:3, but that might have been the projector at the Cinemark I attended. I also noticed some of the animations of animals started to go off screen and you could see the animated objects in the black area of the Wide Screen part (I'm assuming that was for the 3D, but I watched it in 2D so it looked sketchy). But it's minor. An average viewer won't even notice it, I'm an aspiring filmmaker, and I notice the little things!! I enjoyed the film, and you will too. 9/10. Worth it.
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Sanitized Version of the Book with Melodramatic Touches
3xHCCH9 January 2013
I have just finished reading the book the other day, and today I got to watch the film version. With the book still so fresh in my head, I went into the cinema with very high expectations. This is specially so after reading and hearing reviews which call Ang Lee's cinematic masterpiece visually comparable to "Avatar" or emotionally comparable to "The Little Prince," as well as all of the awards buzz.

The book for me was a pleasant though slow read because of the lengthy wordy, even flowery, descriptions Yann Martel uses for his languid reflection on zoo life, his comparative study of Hindu, Christian and Moslem philosophy, and of course, his survival tale at sea by a teenager and a Bengal tiger sharing one lifeboat. It waxes philosophical in the beginning, then waxes fantastical in the middle, before settling for dry reality at the end. While a movie could probably improve on the imagery for each scene, there are several key parts of the novel that would entail a lot of narration. On the big screen, too much narration cannot be too good.

My first assumption turned out to be true. The cinematography and visual effects were expectedly first rate and excellent. Those camera angles were breathtaking. The colors were very vibrant. The special effects regarding animals were realistic for the most part, especially the land mammals, particularly Richard Parker. Though I have to say that the water creatures were too obviously computer-generated, not too good. A most triumphant sequence in the film for me were the scenes on the floating green island of algae and meerkats. I thought that was ideally visualized and executed, so much better than that chapter of the book.

My second assumptions also turned out true. A lot of the story needed to be narrated by an adult Pi Patel as he was being interviewed by a novelist researching for his next book. These bookending present day scenes were pretty dry for me. The whole last chapter of the book when Pi was interviewed by the Japanese shipping officials was all one long narration only without supporting imagery. All of this talky narration may be boring for some people.

In order to make the film appeal to more people, Ang Lee spares us from gory details which the book was not averse to describing in graphic detail. In the film, the screen time of the zebra, orangutan and hyena was very short. For all the brutality that was supposed to have happened on board, Ang's lifeboat remains almost pristine white. I thought that was quite merciful of Ang. I wish I could also say the same for some sappy melodramatic scenes, like Richard Parker laying his head on Pi's lap, which were not in the book.

Overall, this film version of "Life of Pi" is very good, but it can be disappointing for people who have read the book. It was a loyal albeit sanitized version of the book, which is not really a bad thing. The book was not exactly inspirational to me, more educational actually. For this film, Ang Lee seemingly aspired to make this movie inspirational, and these obvious efforts may prove to backfire for some audiences.
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bevo-1367831 March 2020
A movie about the perils of live animal exports by sea
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It's all about suspension of disbelief...
ElMaruecan8226 March 2017
Every once in a while, a movie keeps you marveling at the beauty of its imagery while captivating your mind with its intellectual richness, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is such a movie where images speak a thousand words, so is "Life of Pi" with a difference though: it is pretty vocal about its content. To a certain degree, the film embodies the number 'Pi' whose mathematical function and simple writing are only the tip of an iceberg of infinite immensity.

Still, Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" is a delight for the eyes before the mind, a stunt even more impressive as 2012 eyes used to think they saw it all (3 years after "Avatar" and less than a decade after Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings"). Some shots reminded me of that line from "Forrest Gump" who was running across a desert and the morning light cast such a glow that he couldn't tell where Heaven stopped and the Earth began. And "Life of Pi" is fertile in such shots where you can't tell the limits between the sky and the water, and it is no coincidence that the story is a metaphysical quest à la Paolo Coelho, of a boy drifting across the Pacific Ocean with a tiger, of all the companions.

God is obviously the 'guy-up-there' incarnated by the skies and the stars and Pi addresses him many times by raising his head, but when the sky and the water seems to make one, which might imply that Pi can find God, or try to, by looking at the ocean or in the eye of his feline companion of misfortune. Pi was named after Piscine Molitor which was the most beautiful swimming pool his uncle ever swam in, and in the scene showing the Parisian pool, the water is so clear, the man feels like floating in the air, it is not just gratuitous effects but the display of a heavenly, ecstatic moment, where the body and the mind are in total symbiosis. This is how the uncle found God anyway.

To avoid the mockeries, Piscine calls himself 'Pi' and is so motivated that he becomes a champion of the Pi number and could memorize thousands of the decimal pieces, the cheers of his comrades making up for years of urological nicknames. But don't get mislead, the film is only about mathematics if you use the Galilean metaphor of the alphabet with which God wrote the universe. This is a language Pi is eager to decrypt, driven by his childlike curiosity, Hindu myths and Gods fascinate him, so does the story of Jesus Christ who died as an innocent for all the humans' sins, and he also finds peace and serenity while recalling the name of Allah during his prayers. Pi's ecumenical openness inevitably crashes into his father's rationality.

"Appa", a zoo owner, is a practical man who doesn't believe in religion, he eats meat and would rather have a son sticking to strong opinions rather than believing in everything, being as "irrational" and unlimited as the like-named number. So, it's the father who puts limits in his son's idealism where he sees him trying to feed the tiger (named Richard Parker), believing animals have soul. The father proves him wrong by tying a goat to the cage and showing him how the animals deal together. Animals have no souls, it is only the reflect of humans' soul, the metaphor for religion is obvious. We only see God through our own eyes, how ironic though that the father uses a sacrifice of such heavy religious undertones to make his point. As for Pi, the matters of God are forgotten… for a time.

And it takes that extraordinary journey where he's stuck with the tiger and has to learn how to tame it, to feed it so it doesn't think of eating him, to state his presence, mark his territory, to establish a way to communicate with the animal, until finally, Pi concludes his metaphysical quest. The tiger becomes his enemy but also his ticket for life. I won't spoil right now how the adventure connects with God, but it is all done in that conclusive last rhetorical question, where Pi creates his own myth, which like all myths, explains a fact through a story that might sound ludicrous but whose universal appeal is undeniable. Because that's what myths are: stories that go beyond our own perceptions, that seems impossible yet challenge our thinking to such a point that their nonexistence seems as unbelievable as the opposite.

While I was watching the film, I was mesmerized by the special effects, the interactions between Pi and the tiger, even with the other animals. And I was almost disappointed to learn it was CGI, it didn't look like CGI to me, for some reason, it felt "plausible", too beautiful to be artificial. But maybe that is the ground broken by Ang Lee. In 1914, a man shared a screen with a dinosaur, in 1964 one danced with penguins, in 1988, one was handcuffed to a rabbit, in 1993, dinosaurs came back in the form of CGI creatures, their realness was undeniable but it still asked for our suspension of disbelief. "Life of Pi" is the only one where the animals are meant to be and look real, that the magic of the film would take a 'normal form' to better fool us.

Some would say that God was a creation by humans but maybe the idea of God is so beautiful that humans only tries to make it approachable, like God who used the figure of Jesus, or Muslims when they pray or Hindus with all their Gods. Maybe less than the form of God, is the idea itself, maybe Cinema is like religion or myths, after all, it is all about suspension of disbelief, but for a purpose that is essential to the human soul.
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Furious Tiger, Brave Boy
Galina_movie_fan22 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "Life of Pi" last night and absolutely loved it. I still feel so overwhelmed by it, its visual splendor and the moving story that kept me involved for the whole time. The latest Ang Lee's film is beauty itself, and everyone involved in creation of such sparkling intelligent and classy entertainment deserves the highest praise and admiration for the work they've done. I am sure that in two days, "Life of Pi" will receive majority of Oscars it is nominated for. It deserves them.

I hesitated to see it because I did not think that the movie about a boy and a tiger stuck together in the middle of the ocean for months after the horrible shipwreck on the drifting lifeboat which the ferocious tiger first claimed as his territory and a makeshift inflatable raft chained to it which was Pi's fragile shelter would be so compelling and gripping but it was. Roger Ebert said that Life of Pi is "a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery". I gladly agree with that. I simply can't find anything wrong with "Life of Pi." It is beautiful, profound and adventurous story of survival and understanding life with all it offers or throws at us. It is life affirming even though it takes us along with Pi Patel through unspeakable hardship, losses, and deadly danger of indifferent and indomitable forces of nature's elements and wild creatures. And it manages to say a lot about faith and God without being over-simplistic, preachy or shoving religion in your face. It may help an atheist to understand the believers better or at least to try. It also turns itself in unexpected direction when we thought we were in the end of the journey, reflects on the darkest corners of human nature and leaves the viewers asking questions on what they really want to believe and whether they are open to the possibility of miracle in life, in their lives. It is up to the viewers to choose the answer only they would be satisfied with.

Peaceful beauty of Pondicherry, former French colony in India that surprisingly for me looked like a charming small French town, totally enthralled me in the beginning of the film that started as a typical coming of age story. Well, it is coming of age story but amazing on so many levels, spiritual, ethical, physical, religious, humanistic, testing the limits of what a human being can deal with and how it would shape him, his life, and his perception of life. This is an experience, both movie watching and afterthought that will stay with me. What else can I ask for in a movie? I've always respected and admired Ang Lee and found his movies exquisite. But "Life of Pi" is without doubt his best work. Furious tiger, brave boy, magic journey, fascinating story - amazing movie.
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The Spiritual Event of 2012
gavin694224 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A young man (Suraj Sharma) who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger (Richard Parker).

Let me first say that I am glad that M. Night Shyamalan did not end up directing this film. Could he have made it successful? Possibly. But, he does have a stigma attached to him that Ang Lee does not have. Lee may not be a critically-heralded director, but he is not a running joke, either. And after this film, he may start getting more offers.

Lee says in making this film, he had to "disguise a philosophical book as an adventure story". Although I have not read the book, this sounds spot on. The concepts presented are certainly religious, or at least spiritual, and there is always the feeling that there is more going on than the parts we can see with our eyes.

Roger Ebert called the film "a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery". I will grant that it was excellent storytelling, and would need at least two viewings to fully appreciate. The visual mastery is a bit harder for me to get behind. Some of the visuals are spectacular, while others I felt never quite seemed real enough. Technology has come a long way, but I still know a fake tiger when I see one.

The story works great, and carries itself in three stages. (Here is where the spoilers start, so stop now if you have not seen it.)

The first stage is the overt religious and spiritual stage. Once we get past the jokes about "Piscine Patel", we see a brief exploration of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Certainly nothing thorough, but we get the idea of how we can approach the world seeing one god as many, or many gods as one, and not find it to be contradictory. If the film is going to convince us to believe in God, we have to join him on this quest. (I suspect it goes deeper in the book.)

The second stage is during the days at sea. We have the reference to Richard Parker, here a name for a tiger but also the name of a classic shipwrecked sailor. In some ways, the story here parallels that of the real-life sailor and the Parker from the Edgar Allen Poe story. We also have the introduction of "Tsimtsum". I did not know the term while watching the movie, but felt it must have been important. (Why a Japanese ship had a Hebrew name is anyone's guess.) I now know it is a Kabbalah term about God's being simultaneously transcendent and within the world. A concept that is both contradictory and necessary. It also explains how Pi survives...

The third stage is the last few minutes, when we hear the parallel story about the cannibalistic cook. Is this the real story? Is it a metaphor for the other story, which was actually the true story? Is either one true? And ultimately, does it matter? Here, after we are immersed in faith for two hours, we are left to decide: which is the true story, and does it matter which? (With Pi the only survivor, any story he creates will be the only story that will be recorded as the true story -- he has essentially created his own world.)
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Breathtaking, beautiful, symbolic and very deep
Robert_duder23 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The trailers I saw for Life of Pi did nothing to explain what the movie was at all and I had not read the book nor heard of it. But I decided to give it a try. I don't like 3D, never have, it's always unimpressive. Well guess what? Ang Lee did it. I saw this in 3D and it literally is the first 3D film that made me go WOW!! The visuals are just absolutely amazing, some of the best effects I have ever seen. Fortunately this is not where the films ends it impressive streak. The story is just lovely, riveting, and so emotionally and spiritually deep. A philosophy class could talk about this movie for an entire year and still have more to say. The film doesn't even begin to try to give you a philosophy or way of life but rather is all about exploring the world and exploring the philosophies of life. As a lover of animals you will look for how all the animals in the film play a role but there are truly just animals and important lessons are learned through them. It was perhaps one of the most symbolic and deeply philosophical films I have ever seen and because of that it was incredibly entertaining and beautifully shot.

While a few actors play Pi throughout various stages of his life, only one leaves an indelible and brilliant impression. Suraj Sharma at least deserves an Oscar nomination for making you feel so connected to him and displaying a brilliant display of courage and depth to his character. While he doesn't get as much screen time Irrfan Khan puts incredible emotion into his performance as adult Pi. Both Sharma and Khan bring to life a great adventurer and philosopher in the form of Pi. The supporting cast performs their parts perfectly. No one person really stands out because their goal it to get Pi into his adventure but they are still great. Adil Hussain and and Tabu are particularly good as Pi's parents.

Ang Lee without a doubt must receive an Oscar nod for this film. The cinematography, the special effects, and most importantly the use of those special effects are nothing short of revolutionary. The animals are so brilliantly done and the character of the tiger (Richard how he got his name too) is so vital to the entire story and by the time the film ends you will ache for the tiger as much as Pi does so you will feel his emotions. The film won't be for everyone. Certainly its just too intense for children with a lot of animal deaths and I can see the mainstream movie goers accusing it of being "slow" or "boring" but for anyone looking for something unique and outstanding, Life of Pi is it. I hope the critics feel the same way because this one is a home run in my books!! 9/10
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Made Me Wish I Could Believe in God
evanston_dad15 February 2013
I read "Life of Pi" years ago and remembered little of the details about the book other than that I enjoyed it. During the first half hour or so of Ang Lee's screen adaptation, I felt myself getting bored and restless. It seemed like a religious movie, a movie whose central premise was all about reaffirming a belief in God. As a non-believer, I don't begrudge films with religious themes, but I also don't really enjoy them, feeling like someone invited to a party where everyone else is speaking a different language.

But then the main thrust of the story kicks in, the young boy Pi is stranded in the middle of the ocean with a lifeboat and a tiger, and I was engrossed by the beauty and spectacle that Ang Lee delivers. And then toward the end, there's a twist that I instantly remembered from the book as soon as it happens in the film, and that I can't believe I had forgotten. For that twist is what makes this film something beautiful and much more than a simple story about faith in a higher power. Instead, it becomes a story that gets much closer to the motives behind what I think drives most people to religious faith, and that is that believing in God is way more comforting than the alternative. Some people seem to be able to choose to believe, while others (like myself) simply can't, no matter how much more appealing life seems with a strong belief in a higher power. People will argue probably forever over this film's ending and what it means, but that's what it meant for me.

Ang Lee needs to be commended. This film had to be a very difficult directing feat to pull off, confined as it is almost entirely to a lifeboat and a slew of CGI effects.

A truly wondrous and wonderful film.

Grade: A
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Master Storytelling!
Hitchcoc22 January 2013
This is the most wonderfully original movie I've seen in such a long time. It is set up with an amazing touch. We are absorbed into the Indian culture by some of the most lovely people. They are understanding of Pi's dilemmas and his religious confusion. They support him, although he is an arrogant little twit at times. There is an amazing scene where he shatters his boundaries and almost gets himself killed by the tiger who later becomes his shipmate. The special effects are probably some of the most believable and effective I have ever scene, from the shipwreck to the game of (excuse the expression) cat and mouse that ensues. We are totally involved in the incredible story of Pi and how he uses his knowledge and survival skills to maintain both his life and his sanity. The tiger, Richard Parker, is so well conceived and so believable in his own evolution that we grow to feel for him and his fate. There is a comradeship that one can only view. I found myself describing this movie to a friend, and when I finished he acted like I was crazy to have liked it. I guess Pi felt the same way. This is a movie that takes a wonderful book and an amazing story to new depths. There is also, of course, Pi's struggle with his views of a god that he can't quite define. His is an honest doubt. No character in fiction is asked for more and has to question the entity that he says as responsible for the loss of his family and his abject loneliness in the middle of the Pacific. I can't wait for this to come out on video so I can savor it again. My regret is that I didn't get to see it in 3D which I don't normally care for.
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