Review: “Life of Pi” is amazing

November 30th, 2012 at 8:06 am by under Entertainment

An emotional journey combined with vibrant visuals make “Life of Pi” one of the most captivating movies of 2012.

The story comes from the best-selling novel by Yann Martel – a book that was allegedly considered “unfilmable” … but thanks to director Ang Lee we get a movie that is both beautiful and captivating… a feast for the eyes and the mind.

“Life of Pi” poster Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

(My spoiler-free review)

This is a marvelous accomplishment, and I have not read the book… so I can’t tell you if it does the book justice… but I can tell you it is the best looking survival movie I’ve ever seen.

A movie about a story of survival – told in flashbacks – where we know the fate of the main character and spend most of the movie on a lifeboat… sounds like it could be anti-climatic and boring.

But “Life of Pi” is a journey that is immersive, intriguing, and had me wondering what would happen next.  The vibrant visuals were not a distraction from the storytelling… this story that is so amazing and unbelievable that it just might be true.  Lee’s vision is so amazing from the confines of the lifeboat that play out like a one room stage act… to the beautiful images like the colorful glow of neon algae out in the middle of the ocean – we get so much more than just a young man that is thirsty and hungry and stranded at sea.    These are wonderful images that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.  There is life all around him… and it all looks beautiful – from the colors of his childhood home, to the animals he encounters on this strange trek, to the water that often looks like glass, reflecting the sky above.

This is more than just an incredible tale of survival… of apparently 227 days at sea (although we never get a clear count in the movie)…  “Life of Pi”  is about courage, growing up, friendship, faith, hope, perseverance, and understanding yourself.

The title character, “Pi” has to deal with the accident that leaves him stranded on a lifeboat with a Tiger… this is no “Castaway” (2000) with Tom Hanks talking to “Wilson”.  We get a confined space with our main character stuck with a fearsome tiger and other animals.  But this is no ordinary tiger, this one he’s known for most of his life… so there’s an interesting history that’s laid out for us to follow.  There is a blend of real and CG Tigers that were hard to distinguish from each other and thus, not distracting, considering the supporting character for half the movie – the 2nd most important in this story – is a ferocious Bengal tiger that has no lines of dialogue… at least not any human dialogue.

Suraj Sharma in “Life of Pi” photo Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

We get lots of character development for “Pi”… and Indian boy who grew up in a Zoo in French India, accepted Hindu, Catholic, and Muslim religions, and moved to Canada.   As we see his childhood, we get the two sources for his name and meet his family – all important moments in his life.  We don’t spend the entire movie on the lifeboat, we get background on important life shaping moments that impact his time lost at sea.

The biggest relationship in this movie is not with his uncle, his parents, or his brother… its with his fellow castaway.  Just as an adopted pet has to get used to its new owner… Pi and the tiger need  to form a bond for the sake of survival.

While “Pi” is telling the man that is going to write about his story (clever plot device) that his journey will “make me believe in God”… I think the movie is a better showcase for film making, than a promoter of religion.  Even though some of the visuals seem to get a little far fetched and existential … its hard to argue that spending more than 200 days at sea wouldn’t have anyone seeing some things.


“Life of Pi” is AMAZING .. its a captivating story, a visual masterpiece, a journey for the ages… I give it 9.0 out of 10 … I would be surprised if the movie were only nominated for visual effects and the big production categories… this deserves attention in the “Best Picture” and “Best Director” categories as well.

Video of my “Life of Pi” review on EightWest:

Suraj Sharma in “Life of Pi” photo Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

“Life of Pi”

(2012) (rated: PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril)
(2 hrs, 7 min)

Starring: Suraj Sharma (Pi Patel), Irrfan Khan (Adult Pi), Ayush Tandon (Pi 11-12 Years), Gautam Belur (Pi 5 Years), Adil Hussain, Tabu, Ayan Khan, Mohd Abbas Khaleeli, Vibish Sivakumar, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu

Director: Ang Lee ["Brokeback Mountain" (2005), "Hulk" (2003), "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000)]

Genre: Adventure/Drama

The Plot: (Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel) A young man 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.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“Life of Pi” poster and photo courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

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One Response to “Review: “Life of Pi” is amazing”

  1. Uriah says:

    Like you, I wasn’t expecting much when I saw the trailer for Life of Pi. I was pleasantly surprised though since I was able to connect with the character and felt suspense during much of the movie. I plan on seeing it again soon. I already have it added to my queue on Blockbuster @Home from DISH, so as soon as it’s available on Blu-Ray, I won’t have to dig around for it at the store. I saw it with one of my DISH coworkers, and she loved it too. It’s rare that a movie can keep me hooked through the whole story.

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