Life of Pi (2012) Poster

(2012)

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10/10
Wow...
J Z2 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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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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9/10
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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10/10
Probably the Most Complete Film of the Year
David Maldonado21 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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9/10
Powerful storytelling and splendid performances presented in a brilliant 3D
Davor Blazevic3 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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10/10
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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9/10
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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9/10
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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9/10
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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3/10
Disappointing tall tale, dressed up as pseudo philosophy
Karen Booth7 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I found this film ultimately unsatisfying.

Granted, it is visually stunning, but that in itself doesn't justify the running time. I found myself wondering what the point of the film was at all.

If I'm right,it is a pseudo mystical / philosophical propaganda piece, which suggests that it is better to hold tight to a fantastical, improbable story of triumph over adversity (ie your faith in God, whoever that is), if it gives you hope and gets you through life – rather than to endure a harsh, unpalatable reality.

The whole film is geared up to asking the question of the viewer – which do you prefer, the outlandish fantasy or the grim truth? I'm not sure it's even answerable, unless you have a faith which you want to reaffirm. So when the question came, I thought "Is that it? Is that what you've been waiting to pose"?

The majority of the film covers a boy's struggle to survive a shipwreck, cast away on a small lifeboat in the company of a Bengal tiger. The story is told in retrospective by the boy (Pi) as an adult. It is clear to the viewer that this is a tall tale, from Pi's general style of story telling (a colourful childhood, an eccentric swimming-obsessed uncle). We can tell that his style is somewhat unreliable. Therefore I didn't exactly buy into the survival story. I wasn't rooting for him and there was no emotional attachment to the character, in the way there would have been if this was a straight forward recounting of what happened.

What I was thinking was "when is this part going to end, so that I can get on with finding out what's really going on in the film"? By that, I don't mean that I was particularly interested in the true survival story, which when it came was pretty grim (although that might have been a more interesting film!). I really wanted to know why the film maker thought it was so important to take us on this fantastical journey.

When the answer came, in all its semi-philosophical shallowness, it wasn't worth the wait.
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6/10
If you're expecting enlightenment...
Archie Wah Wah2 January 2013
I read "Life of Pi" a couple of years ago while I was touring around Europe and I found it to be a mildly-entertaining book which touched lightly on the philosophical side. It was no surprise to me then, when I discovered Ang Lee's faithful film adaptation to be exactly that - mildly entertaining, touching lightly on the philosophical side.

I believe a lot of people came to watch this movie with many different expectations, from those who wanted to watch a realistic sea-survival movie, contrasted by those who believed it would offer something truly deep and significant philosophically. Both these camps will be disappointed. As Jonathan Romney says in the IOS review "Life of Pi is fatally scuppered by coy, bogus mysticism." Conversely, as you will read on the message boards here at IMDb (spoilers abound there, be forewarned!) a lot of people couldn't even handle the philosophy-lite that was on offer and were "disappointed" that it wasn't the straight- forward boy-lost-at-sea-with-a-tiger story it falsely claimed to be (*deep breath*). Hey everybody, this film will not change your life. It will provide you with some inoffensive entertainment for a couple of hours, and probably little more.

"Life of Pi" - whether in book-form or in this adaptation - is neither high art, nor gruelling adventure. What it actually is is a fantasy story, framed at the edges with a smidgeon of realism in an attempt to add a soupçon of depth and food-for-thought. Approach the film as such and you may well enjoy it.

As a heavily CGI-ed film it provides at times a stunning visual work. Again reviewers have been mixed, some claiming that the over-playing of visuals falls into the garish, and attempts to wash over the philosophical shallowness of the movie. Well, CGI is the trend today; it has some benefits, but the overall effect of digitally rendering your characters and sceneries is bound to leave something missing soul-wise. "Life of Pi" is pretty enough to look at, but personally I think much more could and would have been made of it if it was adapted as an (classic style) animation.

I'd mark the film as 6.5 (it made my partner cry), but I'm rounding down this time because of the sudden wave of sycophancy present on IMDb, meaning that every film that comes out has 8-point-something (corporate presence?). Either way, a pleasant break from Hollywood aggression, and worth a watch.
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1/10
Why 'Life Of Pi' is a film with a terrible message
Noel Barton28 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see 'Life Of Pi' in 3D as I'd heard what an amazing, life-changing movie it was, and that it was one of the best uses of 3D ever. Unfortunately it was neither of these things. Theoretically, it's a movie which few people should actually like, and should offend religious people, yet almost everyone seems to be lapping it up like God's very own ejaculate.

I'll get the 3D aspect out of the way first. Whilst the visuals were brilliant, beautiful and sometimes breathtaking with vibrant fluorescent colours, there wasn't a single shot of 3D in the entire film that made me think, 'that's impressive use of 3D', and I'm a fan of good 3D. Whilst Pi was poking a stick at the screen, instead of it coming out at me in 3D, it was a rather pathetic, unfocused blur.

The film is about a boy/young man called Pi who was shipwrecked. A writer tracks him down as he hears Pi has a wonderful story that will supposedly make him believe in God. Pi tells the story and it's incredibly long-winded with nothing remotely miraculous in it, mostly just a load of bad luck. Most of the story is Pi and a tiger stuck on a small rescue boat, and whilst that's interesting for a while, after about an hour, it becomes really rather tedious.

Pi then tells a second story which is the true version of events, and there's nothing remotely miraculous in that one either, again just a load of bad luck. At this point I was thinking 'I cannot believe I've spent about an hour watching Pi and a tiger on a boat when it never even happened and he was just bulls**tting us'.

So basically he tells two stories, one of which is lies and one true. He then asks the writer which story he prefers and he says he, "The one with the tiger. That's the better story." Pi responds, "Thank you. And so it goes with God." However, just because the writer preferred the first story doesn't mean he now believes in God like Pi claimed he would; he merely liked the first story better. Just like Pi's first story, this claim is more bulls**t from a compulsive liar. Personally, I liked the second story much better, which was never even shown, merely given a brief spoken account of. It sounded like it would have made a far better movie than an hour on a boat befriending a tiger. What Pi should have said is that the two stories he was about to tell would make the writer understand the nature of faith better, not make him believe in God.

The message,which began with Pi as a kid following three different religions, and ended with him spelling out that that it doesn't matter which story(religion/belief) is true, just follow the one you like the best and comforts you the most, is a terrible message. It teaches people that it's OK to believe in lies instead of the truth, to follow a religion just because it has a nice story, and maybe even follow a few simultaneously then you can enjoy all the various stories.

The movie tries to have an open-minded, positive message about religion, encompassing them all. That's all very well for teaching tolerance of other religions, but as a message it's problematic as I just find it so flaky. Since when has the truth been so unimportant? The truth is important and I won't let this ill-thought-out movie tell me otherwise. As someone who doesn't agree with the concept of believing in lies just to comfort oneself with a nice story, the message went against what I believe.

Furthermore, I don't understand how anyone religious could like the movie either. Surely the whole point of religion is to follow it because you actually believe it to be the truth, not just because it's comforting and a nice story. If I was religious then I would find this message patronising and offensive. Religious people praising the movie can only mean one of two things: 1) They're fully aware that their religion is a lie and don't care as they're happy just liking the story 2) They didn't get the message of the film. Neither of these reasons are anything to be proud of.

The only demographic I would imagine liking this film are flaky people, and people who think being flaky is acceptable, or even admirable. According to IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, this is over 80% of the population. I can't say I find THAT true story very comforting, but, as the truth is apparently not important, maybe I should believe that nobody is flaky and everyone else agrees with me and sees 'Life Of Pi' for what it really is. If there's one thing I can't stand it's flakiness; it's annoying and you never know where you stand with such people or what they stand for.

I liked the idea of a story being too traumatic to tell so giving a false version with symbolism instead, but the message about religion was stupid. If people simply enjoyed the journey then that's fine but it isn't that interesting, and without the message, hollow. People thinking the message is wonderfully deep, beautiful and philosophical, however, need to quit being such flakes and give themselves a slap. Yann Martel, who wrote this 'lying-is-wonderful' story, needs to find another career and spare the world from more stupid messages.

Other than impressive and beautiful visuals, a few lines of good humour and a shipwreck, this film had nothing for me. Plus it dragged, like Ang Lee movies tend to; I would honestly have preferred to sit through his 'Hulk' movie a second time. Pi is a boring, time-wasting, flaky, bulls**tting douche, and I'd be grateful if next time he kept his ill-thought-out, tediously long-winded stories to himself.
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9/10
What is your view of God?
Mark Ursel25 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Life of Pi is a triumph visually - one of the most magical experiences I've ever had at the movies. Even more importantly, it's a triumph of a story.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool atheist. When I heard the words "I was told you have a story that would make me believe in God", I was suitably skeptical.

The movie did not succeed in getting me to believe in God. However, the pivotal but ever-so-subtle dialog near the end really cemented why so many people the world over choose the target of their faith.

Piscene asks "Which story do you prefer?" Not "which story do you believe?" or "Which story do you think is true?", just "Which story do you prefer?" I've seen other reviews of this move that refer to the "twist" ending. There is no twist here, just an incredibly well-presented allegory. There's also many reviews talking about the triumph of endurance and human spirit. Those indeed are present in the story, but not so important as the central point - the crux of the matter.

"Which story do you prefer?" The answer of course is a perfect allegory of religion. The fundamental stories are similar no matter which characters are in the pivotal roles.

"Which story do you prefer?" As Pi answers, "And so it is with God." A faith-shaking thought indeed.

Depending on how you see the world and religion's place in it, the question may affirm or cause questions of your own faith. Is your religion's story true? Or just preferred? And more importantly, does it matter? What this movie drove home for me was that religions all have the same benefits and by extension, they all have the same flaws.

Which story do you prefer? To Ang Lee, Yann Martel, David Magee and all involved in bringing this story to the screen, thank you! It is so refreshing to be viscerally, philosophically and intellectually entertained all at the same time.
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9/10
Fantastic Film
tmservo17 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
We were able to see this at an early screening but per that paper, not to say anything until after other screenings. So, now it's screened elsewhere I can pitch in my thoughts.

Life of Pi is a film that absolutely surprised me. I had not read the book, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I knew that a film from Ang Lee would be exceptionally well done, and I wasn't wrong. This is an incredibly strong work, on par with "Crouching Tiger" .. Not through action or events but in the way the cinematography, camera movements and beautiful settings help draw a viewer in and really sell the story.

The Life of Pi is so well crafted that it moves effortlessly between a story of youth to a story of adulthood. If you have not read the book, the ending is the kind of twist that while completely understandable redefines your entire film experience in a way I hadn't been a part of since "The Sixth Sense". You immediately think back over the entirety of the film and see it in a drastically different way and it works.

No matter the perspective you chose, this is an amazingly well acted, well directed film that goes into my list of some of the best films I've seen this year.

I watched in 3D, but this is a film full of so many bright colors and scenes that I will seek out a chance to see it in 2D just for the beauty of the scenes. Strongly recommended.
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10/10
"I just told you two stories. Which one do you prefer?"
TheSupertramp23 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Ang Lee takes Yann Martel's much acclaimed novel and turns it into a collage full of masterful imagery and dream-like visuals, which remains at the core a profoundly simple tale of spirituality, in a manner which might leave you either with a wry smile and shake of head at what you just experienced or with a euphoric feeling equivalent to the one you get after seeing a magic trick. The thing with this magic however, is that it won't leave you for quite a long while and it might even make you question your most core beliefs. Or the lack of them.

I don't believe in God but I do believe in the power of stories, imagery, art in it's most simple yet beautiful form and most of all in the power of words. I believe in the power of cinema, the moving images that can move you in more ways than you can imagine. That can transport you into another space and time, into a World full of possibilities. Of everything. Of nothing.

And come to think of it believing in God may not be that much different.

'Life Of Pi' is undoubtedly a cinematic achievement in terms of visual effects and images but it's real beauty lies in the story that is so simple in it's depiction yet so profound in it's impact.

There are scenes of such wonderful amazement that words fall short often. Right from the beginning credits to the poignant scene when Pi leaves his lifeboat just after the ship-wreck and watches the mammoth ship sink underwater, the heart-pounding introduction of Richard Parker on the lifeboat, the surreal dream sequence of Pi, the many sunsets and nights at sea, the mesmerizing scene with the jellyfishes and blue whale and just so many other scenes that each one can be paused and made into a collection of brilliantly picturesque wallpapers. Such brilliant cinematic quality is very rare and it needs to be experienced on the hugest screen possible. It's why we go to the movies for. Ang Lee's direction is minimalistic and focused. Gentle and caressing. He does not make movies. He nurtures a baby and lets him out to play with us when he deems fit.

The end is somewhat abrupt in it's flow but nevertheless compelling in it's effect. Suraj Sharma as Pi is very good. Tabu impresses in her short role and Aadil Hussain is effective. But like it's always in almost every movie that he does, it's the brilliant Irrfan Khan who etches out the older Pi with an absolutely touching performance. 'Life Of Pi' without any overstatement is a landmark achievement. It's a shining crown jewel in this oceanic, gigantic world of cinema. Something to be cherished and admired. And something that doesn't happen very often.

"I just told you two stories. Which one do you prefer?" "The one with the Tiger." "And so it is with God."

I'm a believer. In something not very different from God I think.

And yes, always "the one with the Tiger."
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10/10
"This is a picture of sheer power and beauty"
Steve Pulaski22 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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1/10
Like a joke that tries to build but falls flat with a bad punchline
amanda_lockworth3 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie starts slow. The shipwreck scene at sea is only somewhat believable, if you allow yourself to be distracted by the CGI, but it drags, and the references to religion are just a mish-mash of ancient superstition that don't mesh well with the supposed story being told. In the end we learn there is possibly another story that is the "truth", and which is preferred? Well I liked neither. And neither story was "true" since all was fiction to begin with.

"Life of Pi" felt like a story that wanted to go somewhere but didn't know how to, like the author was Pi and trying to figure out how to write a story for the first time, hoping that the proposed alternate story at the end would give the time spent on the rest of the tale some sort of validity, which it didn't. It reminds me of a joke I heard a few years back, one of those jokes where I wondered why I wasted my time listening to it, and I will repeat it here, giving it a Life-of-Pi ending:

One day, Juan is out trimming his hedges. His neighbor looks over and says, "Juan, you're a great guy. You don't beat your wife, abuse your kids, or kick your dog. You should run for Mayor!"

So Juan runs for Mayor. People see what a great guy he is, and they elect him.

After his term is over, Juan is back out to his hedges. His neighbor looks over again. "Juan, you're a great guy. You don't beat your wife, abuse your kids, or kick your dog. You should run for Senator!"

So Juan runs for Senator. People see what a great guy he is, and they elect him.

After his term is over, Juan is back out to his hedges. His neighbor looks over again. "Juan, you're a great guy. You don't beat your wife, abuse your kids, or kick your dog. You should run for President!"

So Juan runs for President. People see he's a great guy- doesn't beat his wife, abuse his kids, or kick his dog. So they elect him. However, as Juan is sitting in the Oval Office one day, a shady man in a black coat walks in and says, "Juan, you're a great guy. But you need to start screwing up- beat your wife, abuse your kids, and start kicking your dog. Or I'll kill you." So Juan begins to beat his wife, abuse his kids, and kick his dog. After a while of this, Juan's old neighbor comes in.

"Juan, what are your doing? You used to be a great guy- now your family is gone and your dog has run away! You need to fix things up, or I'll kill you!"

So Juan is freaking out, but he decides to go out with honor. He patches things up with his wife and kids, and he gets a new dog. The next day, the shady man comes into his office and shoots Juan with a golf gun.

  • What's a golf gun? -


I don't know, but it sure made a hole in Juan.

  • That was a stupid joke -


Which do you like better, the stupid joke or "Life of Pi?"

  • The stupid joke -


So it is with God.
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1/10
An empty candy wrapper 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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1/10
Slow boring movie and smacks of new age
First off, let me just say that I am NOT some religious nut. I a have seen the twilight movies and probably a bunch of other movies that I shouldn't be watching. I'm an adult and can sift through a movie and take away what I want and watch the rest just for entertainment value, even though I AM a Christian.

That being said....this movie takes about five different religions and mixes them all together and basically says, it's okay to believe in anything you want, that everything is ALL the same and you can pick apart different ideas and make your own religion. I found that idea very disturbing and I wouldn't even mention it, except for the fact that they push this super spiritual mixture mess throughout the entire movie. I would have loved this movie if they would of left the spiritual voodoo out of the movie. Make it a simple story of overcoming the odds and finding a bonding relationship with an exotic animal that not many people will ever understand, let alone come that close to. I could believe and even respect that. Some people has special talents and gifts with animals and can understand them in ways most people can't, and the animals reciprocate that back.

Enough said about the religious stuff...let me just say that the movie was pretty slow. I know that one of the main characters(aka..the tiger) doesn't have dialogue and so you have to rely on the animals body language to do the talking for you. There was one part towards the end of the movie(don't want to give it away) where I thought I was having an acid trip, the idea was so ridiculous and strange. I know this is supposed to be a deep spiritual and slightly(and I emphasize slightly) philosophical type movie, but that wasn't what I was expecting to get out of this movie and towards the end, it just got ridiculous. Not to mention, I hated the way things ended up with the boy and the tiger and the ending of the actual movie was very boring and anticlimactic.

I like deep...deep thoughts, ideas...I can do deep in my sleep, but this movie was just weird on every level and is honestly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. This COULD have been a really great movie if they would of kept it simple...boy bonds with tiger and overcomes all odds...no mumbo jumbo wonky stuff.

That's my two cents anyway...
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1/10
Great visuals serve only as a distraction from a overbearingly preachy plot and shallow characters.
castostarlight29 January 2013
I'm going to go ahead and say it outright. This film flat out takes the cake for the most overrated film of the year. This is unwarranted and uninspired Oscar bate on a Hurt Locker level. For the first time in a very long time I have actually left a movie feeling I had wasted my money.

You all know the plot. A boy finds himself adrift at sea with a dangerous tiger after a horrific shipwreck. At the start of the film we are subjected to a meandering and drawn-out set up for themes and characters that do not even see a reprise or conclusion before the end of the film. It really felt like this film was stretching every scene and concept to a breaking point to fill the three hour artistic precedent established by previous Oscar winners like Return of the King. It just drags and drags until we are finally privy to the main plot. But then, the films biggest problem comes to a head: the theme.

The film's theme cannot even be adequately described as it lacks any focus or objectivity. It simply comes off as an overbearing theistic agenda slathered onto an unrelated story. It presents itself as a lesson about faith, but doesn't convey this message in any other fashion than saying "I had faith and I survived, therefore you should have faith." As a critical thinker, I simply counter the point by demonstrating that if a faithless person was put in the same position as the main character and made the same decisions (since none of these decisions were based his faith) they would have identical outcomes. There in lies the problem: the lesson is not demonstrated through means of the story or character progression. It is literally told to you every few scenes via frequent and uninspired narration. The first rule in screen writing is a simple one: Show, don't tell. After all, film is a visual medium. Apparently the screenwriter missed the memo.

What else is there to say? The acting was wooden. The score was big but not memorable. The only thing I can give to the film's credit is some beautiful cinematography and an effective use of 3D. But presentation is all for naught if the story is ineffective, and Life of Pi never once managed to grab me, move me or convince me of anything. It serves only as a colossal waste of money and time; my own and Hollywood's.
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7/10
Life of Pi is a visual spectacle, Irrfan Kahn's best
Clayton Davis28 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 (http://www.awardscircuit.com)
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1/10
Are all these people nuts?
Cathgotmusic3 February 2013
What utter garbage this movie was. Sure, the CGI was good... and that's about it.

That anyone found this movie a spiritual eye-opener shocks, and actually kind of horrifies me. Why are there so many people just wandering around like zombies not questioning their own existence? Did this movie just serve to make them actually put down their lattes and credit cards for one second to see a different perspective on life? I have no other explanation for how well received this movie was.

I tried to see it as just a story on it's own merits but the religious nonsense was just so thick, it's impossible to separate. Life of Pi heaves with religious overtones - constantly. But none of it goes "deeper" than what you would assume every person has pondered at least once or twice in their lifetime: Is God real? Why do people believe? Is it better to believe or disbelieve, and does this change if God is real, or not real?

Let me point this out: PI DOES NOT LEARN ANYTHING, NOR CHANGE DURING THE MOVIE. Pi starts out gullible and foolish, looking for meaning in life to the point of seeing religion and "God" in everything where none exists. At the end, after a painfully long journey (for both protagonist and viewer), Pi is still seeing religion and "God" in everything - except now he is also a liar.

A religious version of castaway that asks no new questions, provides no new answers, and is better off missed.
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5/10
Pretty but Pointless
kenjha8 June 2013
After his ship is hit by a storm, a young Indian man finds himself adrift on a boat with a tiger. The cinematography is so dazzling that Lee won an Oscar for this, one of the few instances where a director has won without the film winning Best Picture. Unfortunately, Lee is better with the special effects than with the actors, whose performances are uneven at best. While the movie looks great, like pretty postcards, the script, based on a popular novel, is too weak to sustain interest. The story, disjointed and somewhat clumsily structured with flashbacks, is fantastic and nonsensical, and ultimately pointless. The characters are meant to be wise and worldly but come across as shallow caricatures.
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1/10
Overrated pretentious Hollywood Nothingness!
cpbottss3 July 2013
Let me start this review by saying I have enjoyed many of Ang Lee's films in the past. Let me also say that I am an animal lover. And as an animal lover I am appalled that this movie got made.

Now I am fully aware that a significant portion of the animal scenes were cg. Nonetheless, the extent of distress that the animals suffered in the actual scenes that were used on top of a blue screen amounted to nothing less than gross levels of animal cruelty and so typical of a person completely indifferent of modern day animal issues.

For that Ang Lee should be ashamed of himself.

Bottom line, I can't say strong enough that this is NOT a story that should have been put on film!!!

I say that for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the start of the film was culturally inaccurate. The mere suggestion that an Indian boy could freely and happily explore Hinduism, Islam and Christianity is nothing short of ludicrous and extends way beyond the scope of being able to 'suspend disbelief'. As for the cg, again, I felt is was ordinary at best and certainly not worth all the Oscar buzz it achieved.

Don't get me wrong, I got the bigger message. I just don't think the vehicle for it was suitable for film and I don't think it can be even mentioned in the same sentence as films like Avatar. I have not read the book and I'm sure it was a great book, but it should have stayed a best selling novel.

As for the film; it is used toilet paper and for his complicity in gross acts of animal cruelty, I hope Ang Lee never works again.
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3/10
It did teach me about "God"
billmanuel24 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I need to forewarn that I went into this movie with high expectations due to the critical review from the industry and the public, and the expectations grew even more after Pi said his story would make his friend, (and by extension me) believe in God. The CGI landscapes, seascapes were beautiful, but the CGI people were not as they looked odd, almost demonic. Still, I was really intrigued now that Pi was claiming that his story would leave me no choice but believe in God, so I kept watching.

The story unfolded and there were some exciting scenes, as exciting as can be for a boy and his cat at sea, but even some of the animal CG looked a bit fake. Once the carnivorous island sequence appeared, I knew Pi was disconnected from reality, that it was not merely a case of artistic license. The movie went downhill from here.

I waited for the big reveal, the part that would force me to throw off the yoke of agnosticism, change my life forever and finally embrace a higher power. The big reveal, the entire story was an allegory at best, but more accurately a lie to make the truth easier and more profound than it actually was. My takeaway from Pi about believing in God and changing my life forever, God exists if you only pretend he exists and if you are going to pretend, you might as well pretend big and make the lie really grand, truth, honesty, objectivity and logic be damned. So, in that respect I guess I learned more about religion than I cared to.

Even worse, the author seems to assume that the public is stupid. At the end when we find out which animal characters represented which human characters, the orangutan being Pi's mother, the zebra being the sailor, the cook being the hyena, Pi's dimwitted friend asks,"but who is the tiger?" Really? Come on. Pi is like a magical miracle potion that everyone is raving about, but when you actually invest in it and buy it for yourself, you notice the label on the back that says, "Contents: Oil of Snake".
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