Movie Review, The Life of Pi

11 Apr

The Life of Pi is a beautiful movie, by which I mean, image-wise.  I did watch this in the theatres, but not in 3-D.  I’ve got to admit something here, I really dislike most uses of 3-D in movies these days–I think they’re not all that effective, mostly distracting, and they bring on a splitting headache on my part.  However, I could see how this movie MIGHT be good in 3-D, since it seems to be designed that way. That being said, there’s nothing in the story itself that demands 3-D and the images are plenty beautiful flat.  However, I do think if you get a chance to see it on a big screen, go for it.  I think this movie will suffer by being seen at home.

Several scenes made my eyes just pop–the scenes of the zoo, the surreal scene of the ship beneath the water like some floating building, a lot of the ocean scenes.  The other thing I have to give big points for is the non-cheesy CGI.  CGI is a great tool, but it works best with other mediums rather than making these cartoonish worlds that have no depth.  Lee really shines here.

There’s basically three stories interwoven in this movie.  There’s the story up to the journey, the journey, and Pi’s life now.  The first third of the movie is fun and light and reminds me a bit of Amelie.  I don’t know why, it’s the images, the innocence of the boy, his love of all religions, his family.  There’s a huge bounce of optimism and innocence here.  It ends just at the right time though, before it gets a bit tedious, setting up some background for the character we’re going to have to follow on a boat for the middle (and longest) part of the movie.

The trip is Pi and a Tiger in a boat in the middle of the ocean.  That’s it.  But how splendidly it passes–through storms and flying fish and swarms of jellyfish and whales that jump into the air–gorgeous and dangerous.  It’s amazing how Lee manages to keep the screen interesting even though we’re just looking at some kid in the water for like an hour.  Also Suraj Sharma, the actor who plays Pi, is just brilliant–his acting is top notch here, not everyone can sit talking to himself and a CGI tiger for an hour and pull it off, and if he didn’t , the whole film would have sunk.

The weaker part is the part in the present.  They promise to prove the existence of God (which is a huge promise by anyone) and while I find the acting to be ok, it kind of takes away from the rest of the story.  Why is this man revealing all to a stranger?   How does this work?  I understand why it’s there–to break up the ocean scenes and to provide a narrator, but I found myself wanting those parts to be quicker so I could get back to the real story.  Also I kind of would have liked to have seen this movie without the moral, just letting the audience get what it wants to from the presented material.  That’s just a quibble, the scenes are fine, but not a spectacular as the rest.  It would be kind of like having the Lord of the Rings interrupted every few minutes by a man playing Tolkien cutting up broccoli or something.

All in all, well recommended.  It’s a movie that has some weight to it, but entertaining enough to not feel like work.  Go watch it.

2 Responses to “Movie Review, The Life of Pi”

  1. CMrok93 April 12, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Aside from all the metaphors and the imagery, the film has almost everything that one would want in a film. It may be heavy-handed, but it always dazzles. Good review.

    • pewterbreath April 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Dazzles is a good word for this one. I’m really glad I saw this in the theater. Thanks for the comment.

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