Thursday, January 17, 2013
The day after Christmas, the Other Half and I decided to see Ang Lee's adaptation of the Pullitzer-prize-winning book Life of Pi written by Yann Martel. Even though the film is released in 3-D and 2-D versions we saw it in the standard 2-D format because we basically believe that most of the time 3-D is nothing more than a gimmick to increase ticket prices.
Despite the fact that the plot of the book always struck me as too incredible to be even worth reading (a boy is stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger!?) the movie is very engaging and an absolute visual feast.
It is true that the story involves teenager Pi Patel, played by newcomer Suraj Sharma, who is in a ship carrying his family's zoo animals to North America when there is an awful storm that ends up with Pi surviving on a lifeboat that has a Bengal tiger, a hyena and an orangutan on board. I know how ridiculous that sounds but somehow if you watch the movie it looks absolutely believable. The fact that it does so is testament to Lee's directorial prowess and story-telling strength.
The story is told in flashback by an older Pi Patel (played by amazing veteran Indian actor Irfan Khan) so we as the audience know that Pi survives his ordeal, although even with this knowledge the movie is suspenseful, because the situation he is in is so dangerous and harrowing. Both Sharma and Khan do an excellent job making Pi seem like a very real person and one that the audience can empathize and sympathize with. The real star of the film is Sharma, who astonishingly had never acted before, and only went to the audition for the part because he was accompanying his older brother! He is in the vast majority of the scenes of the movie and he is always able to carry the attention and interest of the viewer.
There's not much more I want to say about the plot except to say that the last 5-10 minutes of the movie are very important and place the events of the previous 2 hours into a perspective which depending on how you choose to interpret them, can greatly skew how you view the entire film.
Essentially, the audience has to make a choice which of two realities to believe in, and the author links those two choices to the choice of whether God exists (i.e. logically unexplainable, supernatural things--also known as miracles-- can happen) or whether God does not (and all events must be logically explainable).
Despite being a godless person myself, I found the movie impactful, and overall it is very entertaining piece of filmmaking.
Title: Life of Pi.
Director: Ang Lee.
Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.
Release Date: November 21, 2012.
Viewing Date: December 26, 2012.
Overall Grade: A (4.00/4.0).