Life of Pi

Embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this visual masterpiece from Oscarr winner Ang Lee*, based on the best-selling novel. After a cataclysmic shipwreck, young Pi Patel finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with the only other survivor – a ferocious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Bound by the need to survive, the two are cast on an epic journey that must be seen to be believed.There are only so many filmmakers fearless or foolhardy enough to tackle a challenging novel, like Yann Martel’s

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2 thoughts on “Life of Pi

  1. 74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Beauty and Spirit, Both Beyond Words, December 12, 2012
    By 
    Steve D. Heckenlively (Camarillo, CA USA) –
      

    This review is from: Life of Pi (DVD)

    This may be the hardest movie review I’ve ever written, somehow words don’t
    express it quite right …

    To begin, I saw Life of Pi in 3-D. A week later I went back and saw it again,
    because I don’t foresee having another chance. I expect the color and detail
    will remain gorgeous in 2-D, and I definitely intend to buy the disc.

    However the 3-D in this movie is spectacular. The tiger, Richard Parker, is
    at the top of the list, but in fact the entire movie benefits tremendously
    from 3-D. If you liked Avatar, you probably liked the marvelous animals.
    And I’m sure in some scenes, Richard Parker is CGI’d to some extent. But
    Life of Pi has a real earthly animal to work with, and you can argue there
    is no animal on earth more beautiful or fierce than a tiger. That’s part
    of the genius of this movie, and I’m sure one reason James Cameron liked
    it so much.

    That brings me to another point about this movie, its suitability for kids.
    Hopefully by now you understand the tiger is not a cuddly pet. Its very much
    a wild animal, just like you can see in nature videos. Except in this movie
    the tiger is a lot closer. He wants to eat Pi. Pi can’t always see the tiger.
    The audience knows the tiger is going to try something, but that just makes it
    all the more nerve-wracking. Or exciting, depending on the person watching.
    This movie made me jump several times, and I was often clutching the arms of
    my chair. Its pretty intense in places. More so the second time I saw it.
    I kid you not.

    “Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the darkness of the night”
    – William Blake

    “Tell me what you see”
    – Pi

    Regarding the story, I will say the movie starts out to establish what kind
    of a kid Pi was when he was growing up in India. This helps us know Pi as a
    multi-dimensional character. But the beauty of this part of the movie is
    the kind you can see every day, not the visionary beauty that comes later.
    Maybe it takes more effort to see it, because its a little too much like our
    own lives when we were kids. Growing up can seem mundane. But sometimes
    it can also be dangerous. Or heartbreaking.

    Once the movie shifts to the ocean, its very easy to believe that now we
    have our arms around the story. But Life of Pi is one of those movies where
    we don’t really know the story at all, until the last word of dialog has
    been spoken. There’s more than one story here, and most of what makes you
    think, after its over, comes at the very end. You have to pay attention to
    pick it all up. On disc, you may want to re-play a few seconds at the end
    of the movie.

    Its worth it. If you like to think about a movie, if you have a vivid memory
    for beauty, then Life of Pi is one of the easiest movies to recommend. Its the
    second masterpiece of 2012.

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  2. 241 of 261 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    “Which story do you prefer?” A film review from a literary perspective, November 15, 2012
    By 
    Susan Tunis (San Francisco, CA) –
      

      

      

    This review is from: Life of Pi (DVD)

    Wow, this has been an exciting fall for literary adaptations! I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi a decade ago and thought it was fantastic storytelling. I cheered when it won the Man Booker Prize. So, I was quite excited to attend an advance screening recently with several members of my book group. I remembered the novel quite well in broad strokes, but not the fine detail. I didn’t refresh my memory before watching the film, but was curious enough to reread Life of Pi in its entirety before writing this review. The film is very true to the novel in spirit and tone, but there are small changes, additions (generally positive), and elisions (some noteworthy).

    The film opens similarly to the novel. The idea is the same, but the execution is slightly different. Different mediums require different storytelling tools. For instance, I believe most film-goers will readily recognize The Writer (portrayed by actor Rafe Spall, who replaced a distractingly famous Toby Maguire) as a stand-in for author Martel. In the novel, it is Martel himself, in direct address to readers, who fulfills this role, effectively blurring the line between fact and fiction. It is established that this story is being related to The Writer by an older Pi. From there, readers are introduced to a young Piscine Molitor Patel and the world he inhabits. It’s a charmed childhood, being raised at the Pondicherry Zoo amongst a loving family and exotic animals–an Indian “We Bought a Zoo.” These scenes are as lush and colorful as any Bollywood musical.

    I’ve discussed this novel with other readers countless times over the years. It’s beloved by many, but truly hated by a vocal minority. I’ve never understood the vitriol, personally. Martel writes beautifully and accessibly. His story is fast-paced and yet deeply rooted in character. And it explores the boundless subject of faith through an extraordinary tale–a “story to make you believe in God.” But one complaint I’ve heard from readers is frustration over (or lack of interest in) Pi’s religious explorations early in the novel. The young man is a practicing Hindu, Christian, and Muslim. Martel never belabored the point, but those readers will be gratified to see that director Ang Lee has streamlined the beginning of the tale to move more swiftly to the meat of the story.

    And that comes about when Pi’s family packs up their lives, their animals, and moves the whole kit and caboodle to Canada by ship. Well, that’s the plan. Something goes wrong in rough seas outside of Manila. The ship goes down in a haunting scene, and now the stage is set. Sixteen-year-old Pi is shipwrecked in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a 450-pound adult Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It’s survival of the fittest on the high seas, and things get Darwinian fast. Soon enough, it’s Pi and Richard Parker in it together.

    When I first heard the premise of this novel, somehow I thought Richard Parker would be some kind of cute, anthropomorphized tiger, and oversized puddy tat. He was not. He was a terrifying predator, and he stayed a terrifying predator, throughout Pi’s ordeal. This was much the same in the movie (although not quite to the degree as in the novel, a change commented upon by Martel in the Hollywood Reporter). Richard Parker was scary in the book, but he was terrifying on the screen. I flinched as he snarled and lunged in 3D.

    From here, both novel and film take on an episodic or picaresque quality. The film is delightfully dream-like from its opening frames. (An early scene of the swimming pool from which Pi derives his name enchanted me!) But as the days at sea pass, and the ribs of both animals become plainly visible, the film shifts from dream-like to hallucinatory. Episodes and encounters become increasingly extraordinary. Sitting in the audience, I could clearly discern who had read the novel and who had not by the gasps and exclamations. (Among my friends, the film was enjoyed equally by those who had read the book and those who had not.)

    Yes, there are episodes that are missing from the film, one of which is quite notable. Fans may miss it. And, yet, I can understand the choices made. Cuts were judicious. As noted earlier there are a few small shifts and changes. But this is a very faithful adaptation of Martel’s novel, and I suspect it will please most fans of the original. What is lost is more than made up for by how Ang Lee has brought Martel’s fantastic vision to life.

    The cinematography and design of this film is exquisitely beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of 3D technology, but once in a while it seems to really augment a film. Such is the case here–all the better to experience a small boat on the vast ocean. And while we’re on the subject of technology, the CGI work on the tiger is seamless. None of us could detect where the real tiger ended and the…

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